Once upon a time the United States was powered almost solely by petroleum and crude oil based electricity. Today, though, things are much different. In addition to independent green initiatives, more of the “traditional” power companies are getting their power through renewable resources, which they offer to their customers at a slightly elevated cost. While much of the country is still highly regulated, there are options available if you want to explore newer and potentially better energy options.
One of the most common alternatives to traditional power is natural gas. Natural gas is better for the environment (the supply under North America could power the entire continent for a hundred years) and because it is easier to deliver to consumers is much cheaper than traditional oil. Most of the country has a natural gas option for people who don’t want to use regular electricity (or who want to reduce their use of regular electricity). The number of Ohio gas companies alone is reason to believe that the natural gas movement is spreading and becoming more popular.
Wind power isn’t exactly new. You need only look at the history of the Netherlands to see how long Windmills have been around. Over the last decade and a half or so, though, the “wind farm” has become more popular throughout the United States. There are big wind farms in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and California. Wind power is clean and sustainable. Currently, though, the amount of space needed to create the energy needed to power towns and cities is quite enormous. This is why most power companies are offering wind power as a component of a power program instead of an independent choice.
Solar power is one of the most popular and widely used forms of renewable energy in the world. This is because it is much easier to install solar panels independently than it is to set up wind or water based energy production for a single home. Unfortunately, we are still years if not decades away from being able to offer solar power as a single power source to a town or city. This is because, like wind, the amount of space needed for a solar panel farm is incredible. The technology is still working on creating smaller panels with better energy storage to make this option more feasible.
Nowhere is the use of water power more famous than in Nevada. Hoover Dam is world famous for the amount of energy it produces (enough to power Nevada and parts of Southern California almost completely on its own). Other famous dams include Dworshak Dam in Idaho, Oroville Dam in Northern California and Hungry Horse Dam in Montana. Dams are great because they are self contained and can produce lots of energy.
Still, they can drastically change the landscape as well as the various natural and wildlife habitats that exist in the areas that they are built. This has caused great conflict within the EPA and other citizen groups. The renewable energy is great, but is it worth the cost to the flora and fauna that have to adapt or to or are destroyed by it?
Switching from crude oil and petroleum based power to more environmentally friendly options is a long road to travel but it is a worthy one. It’s worth checking out the renewable and green power options in your area, whatever they are.