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332 Landslide

332 Landslide

November 19, 2008

Kilowatt Ours - Yours and Mine

Energy conservation. There are 3 schools of thought, generally.

  • 1) Why should I give up the good life

  • 2) My efforts won't contribute enough to matter

  • 3) I'll do what it takes to conserve

Thanks to the 3rd group, for 30+ years of effort in designing, engineering and implementing the ideas and tools available to us today, groups 1 and 2 now have what it takes to join the effort with no reservations.

Facing energy shortages, the city of Austin purchased land at the edge of town to build a new power plant. It was necessarily close, posing health issues. It was going to be quite expensive and take longer to finish than they really had time to wait. So with research and experience from the treehuggers, nerds, geeks, enviros and offgridders the city came up with a plan. They would build a power plant that required no land clearing, no construction, no pollution. They set out to build a Conservation Power Plant. Their goal was simple in thought, logistically daunting and unprecedented. Conserve as much power through community effort as would be produced by building a new power plant. Click on the image below to see the results of their effort.

The above clip is part of a longer program, Kilowatt Ours; A Plan to Re-Energize America which aired on PBS stations over the last few months, and tonight here in the Seattle area. The documentary highlights what is hard for most Americans to grasp. There are 301 million Americans. If just one room in every home in America were lit by Energy Star lighting, it would be like removing 1 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
31,500,000 kWh could be saved every year if every exit sign in America were upgraded to LED bulb. There are A LOT OF US, when each of us does a small thing it turns into huge thing, a never been done before thing. During the drought and subsequent energy shortage in California in 2001, there wasn't enough time to build new power plants to avoid the crisis. So much like other leaders before him in the face of such a crisis, the Governor asked his citizens to pitch in. Raise the thermostat to 78, unscrew 1 in 4 light bulbs... and they did. What they accomplished that summer broke world records, and set them on the path leading our country to energy independence. Below is a short clip from the program;

Some quick facts:

  • In the fall of 2000 over 300 million gallons of coal slurry were spilled into the Big Sandy River in Martin County, KY. Although this ecological disaster was 30 times greater than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, very few people outside of Kentucky hear about it.
  • Visibility in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has declined 60% over the last 60 years. (We need plants to breath, eat and drink. Plants need sunlight to grow) 83% of the visibility-reducing haze in Smoky Mountains National Park is from sulfate particulates from coal-burning power plants. The American Lung Association listed 10 southern cities in the Southeast among the top 25 most air-polluted cities in America. The EPA estimates that 33 million Americans in the Southeast alone live in bad-air areas.
  • 40 of 50 states post statewide mercury advisories warning that fish are unsafe to eat.
  • The Centers for Disease Control say that 1 in 10 women of childbearing age carry unsafe levels of mercury in their tissues.

• Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 20% as much electricity as a 100-watt incandescent bulb and last years longer too.

• New energy-efficient refrigerators are 40% more efficient than they were just two years ago.

• If just one room in every home in America were lit by Energy Star lighting, it would be like removing 1 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

• A typical washing machine uses 1,000 kWh per year of electricity. An energy-efficient frontloading washer uses only 280 kWh.

• The city of Birmingham, Alabama, now saves $220,000 after upgrading all 700 street
intersections with LED traffic signals.

• When the Sumner County School System in Tennessee found that geothermal heating and cooling in a new school helped them save $5,000 per month on energy, they decided to retrofit every school in the county with this cost-cutting technology.

• Smith Middle School in North Carolina uses a technique called “daylighting” to flood classrooms with natural light.

• The Sullivan County School System in Tennessee finances their $24 million energy upgrade with the $1 million they save on energy every year.

• 31,500,000 kWh could be saved every year if every exit sign in America were upgraded to LED bulb.

So please, visit and see what our efforts can accomplish. Sign up with their program to do your small part in a world changing effort, and save money along the way. Purchase the DVD or find the program airing on a local station and take the time to watch it. Contact your representatives and tell them you want to see these sorts of money saving, job providing, clean earth policies in YOUR town and be sure to tell them to watch Kilowatt Ours - A Plan to Re-Energize America. For your wallet, for your health and for our security and independence, demand a Conservation Power Plant in every town across America.

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