FROM THE EDITORS Vol 1-Issue #1
Where Did This Reduced Energy Use Come From*
*Poisonous vs Non-Poisonous Energy: a bit of history, a bit of hope!*
Some of the divisions I’m seeing in the environmental movement these
days have motivated me to try to unify people through this history.
I’ve been in the safe/sane/sustainable energy movement for 35 years
and remember the early days well.
When the anti-nuclear movement started growing in 1977 (mushrooming,
pardon the pun, in 1979, when the Three Mile Island accident
happened), we were quickly criticized as being negative. They would
say: “That’s what you’re against, what are you for?” And say it
rather smugly, whether those saying this were professionals from Con
Ed, LilCo or Met Ed or even our neighbors who believed the nuclear
utilities’ lies about how necessary nuclear power was. We’d answer,
just as smugly, that we were for, “Solar, wind, small hydro.” And the
utilities became strongly anti-solar & wind energy, rather than add
those energy sources into the mix they already had. If that mutual
hostility had been different, the solar & wind industry as we know it
today would not exist, but would be run by utilities.
As time went on, a lot of the kids and young men and women I went to
meetings and rallies with went into the energy industry, putting up
solar panels and making buildings that used less energy. At first,
these energy alternatives were a negligible percentage of the total
overall energy generating sources and had little effect on energy
usage reductions. But they kept growing and getting better. The
Illinois “lo cal house” of the ’70s evolved into the “passive house
techniques” of today. And because of this, the energy use per New
York City resident went steadily down for years, thanks in part (I
think large part) to the men and women of the anti-nuclear movement
and their continuing inspiration. Thousands and thousands of dollars
were being taken from the utilities and put into the rest of the
economy. Thousands of tons of carbon never got put into the
atmosphere. And it’s still going on.
There are probably now about 200 energy-efficient buildings in NYC.
People have been, and still are, retrofitting their homes to save
energy. There are at least 3,400 solar installations in NYC. On top of
that, people have been buying energy star appliances and putting in
energy-efficient lighting and are still continuing to do so. To go
along with that, there are over 100 certified solar installers in NYC
& Westchester. The outcome of all of this is that Con Ed’s energy
contract with Entergy Corporation, the owner of the Indian Point
Nuclear Power Plant, is now for only 500 megawatts of energy. Even
during heat waves, they don’t buy more.
During one such heat wave, Roger Witherspoon of the Society of
Environmental Journalists, after hearing one of Entergy’s claims that
they provide 25% of NYC-Westchester’s energy needs, called Con Edison
to check on that figure. Paraphrasing Roger and Con Edison, they
basically said that: ‘They don’t need more’. So if Indian Point were
ever to permanently shut down, nothing more would need to be built.
That is, not one more power plant nor any more electrical lines.
Looking back now at all of the temporary shutdowns that have occurred
at Indian Point up to the present (five in a four-month period in
2015), none of them have ever affected the grid reliability of NYC.
Indian Point’s replacement has already happened and is continuing. A
further example of that decreased energy need can be noted by Con Ed’s
upgrading some of their transmission efficiency to save their need for
more energy. They have even delayed other planned upgrades because the
energy savings are not “needed” (their definition of need, not mine).
To me, fossil fuel activism and anti-nuclear activism are the same
thing – the choice is between poisonous and non-poisonous energy.
Safe/sane/sustainable energy is the choice, and that absolutely
includes “negawatts,” that is, using less energy in the first place,
which increases excess energy capacity every step of the way. As
excess electricity capacity increases, less fossil fuel is burnt and
there are fewer excuses to keep the Indian Point nuclear plant open or
build another pipeline or other infrastructure parts (though they’ll
try to build those pipelines anyway, not for domestic energy
production, but for export).
The end result of all this is that NYC and Westchester County do not
need the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. We can get all the energy
we need through energy efficiency in the various ways that we have
discovered and used over the last few decades. And we can continue to
get our energy needs from the present alternative methods of Solar,
Wind and other Renewable sources.
Can we get to 100% renewable energy? Of course we can. Each of us
needs to help speed up the process that is already happening.
Thank you for all you do,
> Ken Gale
Eco-Logic, WBAI 99.5FM, NYC, 8PM Tuesdays
When the air or water are clean, thank an
environmentalist. If not, become one. ‘Nuff Said!