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 Beginner Green Energy Badge - so much to consider
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star-schipp
True Blue Farmgirl

942 Posts

Starletta
Middletown Indiana
USA
942 Posts

Posted - Apr 06 2014 :  4:10:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello all my Farmgirl Sisters - I found my way home!

I've been doing research for the beginner level Green Energy badge. I receive my power from a local rural electric cooperative and sadly, the majority of that power comes from burning coal. However, I did not know that they have an option to sign up for their EnviroWatts program and receive up to 30% of my power from renewable sources such as landfill gas generation, large and small scale wind turbines and solar power. The cost is, of course, higher at 90 cents per 100 kWh blocks.

I am very pleased to report though, our local school has erected a wind turbine and they said their electic bill was zero dollars for January and half of February. There wasn't much wind here in February.

I did some research so I could compare and contrast different types of energy. Here is what I found (in no particular order):

Natural Gas: Gas composed of primarily methane and other hydrocarbons - can be thermogenic and created inside the earth or biogenic and harvested in landfills. Thermogenic is non-renewable; Biogenic is renewable. Advantages: reliable; able to meet current needs; storable; natural reserves are currently underutilized. Disadvantages: Thermogenic is finite resource; Highly volatile; greenhouse gas emissions; Biogenic not yet able to supply to level of current need.

Hydroelectric: Electricity is generated by the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is renewable. Advantages: most widely used form of renewable energy worldwide; dams can shut gates to conserve water to meet higher demand; does not destroy the water itself; does not create waste byproducts. Disadvantages: Very expensive to build; dams cause water access problems downstream; dams require flooding of natural habitats.

Coal: mineral of fossilized carbon. It is a non-renewable resource. Advantages: abundant and able to meet current needs; inexpensive Disadvantages: mining is very hazardous to employees; emissions cause health hazards; pollution; mining causes destruction of the land

Nuclear: Use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat which is then used to create steam to power electricity generators. The uranium used is non-renewable. Advantages: reliable, able to meet current needs; low cost to run plants. Disadvantages: safety risks; expensive to build plants; mining of uranium produces greenhouse gases; where to dispose spent radioactive fuel; in the event of a disaster - human injury and land uninhabitable for many decades.

Wind: Conversion of wind into electricity with the use of wind turbines either on land or ocean. It is a renewable source. Advantages: no greenhouse gas emissions; usable in remote off-grid areas; energy can be sold back to utility. Disadvantages: Turbines can be noisy and with potential for bird kills; power is inconsistently generated; largest single turbine can power only aobut 475 homes; in some areas, they create visual disturbance of areas of natural beauty.

Solar: conversion of energy from the sun to usable electricity through photovoltaic cells. It is renewable. Advantages: after installation, panels require little maintenance; silent producer of energy; tax credits may be available; after installation, energy is produced for free. Disadvantages: cloud cover and night produce no energy; efficiency of conversion is around 20% of sun rays to electricity; low conversion means more panels needed; substantial initial investment.

References:
Natural Gas: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~dama0023/naturalgas.html
Hydroelectric: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~dama0023/hydroelectric.html
Wind Power: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~dama0023/wind.html
Solar: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~dama0023/solar.html
Nuclear: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~dama0023/nuclear.html
Coal: http://www.advantagesanddisadvantagesofcoal.com/advantages-of-coal/

Yikes! That is a lot to take in, isn't it. But this is one thing I truly love about the Farmgirl lifestyle - reaching out to learn things I didn't even know I needed to know...and once you know it, you can't un-know it. For example, with the electric company I have using coal to produce my electricity, I know that I had to advocate for change. The first step will be to sign up with them to at least have 30% of my power from renewable resources. The next step will be to consider how to decrease my power usage all the way around and to determine how I can utilize solar and wind options. Solar and wind, to me, seem the most reasonable and responsible methods.

I'm reaching out to my Farmgirl friends to seek your opinions too and to brainstorm ways to make a change immediately.

Has anyone successfully worked with your electric co-op to make changes happen in how power is resourced?


If you can't feed one hundred people, then just feed one. -Mother Teresa

Star - farmgirl sister #1927

Master Food Preserver

churunga
True Blue Farmgirl

3067 Posts

Marie
Minneapolis MN
USA
3067 Posts

Posted - Apr 06 2014 :  8:49:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have signed up with my electric company Xcel Energy to take surveys to give my opinions on energy types and usage. I signed up for a renewable program which cuts my electric cost by a few dollars every month. I live in an apartment so I have to take what they give me. I believe that placing solar panels on roof tops would be an excellent solution even here in the city. I don't know why more buildings here do not do it. I believe that wind would be a good backup energy generator when the sun isn't out especially at night. These two methods used together would be the smart way to go.

I also had a radical idea for generating energy for an office building. An energy generating work out area could be installed somewhere in the building which would convert the energy from the building's occupants exercising to cover some of the cost of the building's energy consumption. Two birds here - healthier people, energy conservation.

I believe that any amount paid for alternative energy production is money well spent.

Marie, Sister #5142

Try everything once and the fun things twice.

Edited by - churunga on Apr 06 2014 8:50:48 PM
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edlund33
True Blue Farmgirl

1423 Posts

Marilyn
Renton WA
USA
1423 Posts

Posted - Apr 06 2014 :  10:17:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am fortunate to live in an area where hydroelectric and wind power are the primary sources of power for our region. But we do have the option to sign up for "green power" program which allows us to pay more per month to ensure that a given percentage of our power comes from wind or solar generation. I think we pay about ten dollars per month extra to get 40% of our monthly power consumption from green generation sources.

Our utility also has a pilot program going that tracks our energy consumption and compares it to our neighbors as well as the local average. They send out a letter every quarter showing the results along with a newsletter that provides information on energy conservation and green home improvements. We had to replace our gas water heater and dryer recently and by choosing efficient replacements we have seen our usage go down quite a bit. I think having this information and being able to see the difference we are making in the quarterly report has been a great motivator for us to make changes for the better good.

We also have programs in this area where we can get rebates from utility companies for purchasing efficient appliances or making energy efficient home improvements like insulation or windows. I think these programs are also a great way to inspire people to learn and make changes.

I believe the best way to support sustainable energy is to purchase ecopower if it is available in your area. If it isn't available start advocating your local utility for change. Another way to help is to raise awareness of this subject by talking to neighbors, groups and businesses, or social media. I think most people will support sustainable energy sources if they are aware that it is available and easy for them to join.




Cheers! ~ Marilyn

Farm Girl No. 1100

http://blueskyanddaisies.blogspot.com

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Penny Wise
True Blue Farmgirl

1903 Posts

Margo
Elyria OH
USA
1903 Posts

Posted - Apr 07 2014 :  06:17:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
just wanted to say hi starletta! I've missed your postings-hope all is well!

Farmgirl # 2139
proud member of the Farmgirls of the Southwest Henhouse
~*~ counting my pennies; my dreams are adding up!~*~
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fox
Farmgirl in Training

12 Posts

Joanne
CA
USA
12 Posts

Posted - Oct 20 2018 :  4:56:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was somewhat surprised that only 6% of our power is from large hydro plants. Currently 30% is from a renewable energy source of solar, wind, geothermal with plans to increase this to 33% by 2020. I was also surprised to find that 23% is from nuclear, and 25% from natural gas. I understand that some of the natural gas is collected from dump sites which is good. The hydroelectric as the additional advantage of creating recreational lakes, but in the past, the hetch hetchy dam covered a valley that was similar to Yosemite Valley. What a shame. I worry about the nuclear and Im glad I don't live anywhere near the plants, because of the potential danger of leaks and the problem of what to do with the rods after they are used. I hope they work on replacing this source of energy.

Farmgirl sister #7732
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katmom
True Blue Farmgirl

12679 Posts

Grace
WACAL Gal WashCalif.
USA
12679 Posts

Posted - Oct 20 2018 :  6:46:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Joanne...on our voting ballots up here in Washington... there is an initive to reduce fossil fuel usage and requiring the big fuel companies to 'clean up ' their act... needless to say... the big refineries have twisted the truth to making people fearful of paying sky rocketing prices for fuel which is so not true... the inititve wants the big polluters to pay...
I for one think It is a shame we don't access solar and wind power ... an inexpencive and renewable source. And the sun and winds are not pollutants.

>^..^<
Happiness is being a katmom and Glamping Diva!

www.katmom4.blogspot.com & http://graciesvictorianrose.blogspot.com


Edited by - katmom on Oct 20 2018 6:48:24 PM
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fox
Farmgirl in Training

12 Posts

Joanne
CA
USA
12 Posts

Posted - Oct 29 2018 :  7:28:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Nothing on our ballot about fossil fuels this time. California is working on getting more solar and wind power, but there are also cutting off power if the wind gets high. Several counties were cut off for over 3 days when it got windy. A lot of people with solar were surprised that the didn't have power because when the grid is off, they lose power unless they have battery back up.

Farmgirl sister #7732
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