Rapid Advances in Energy Conservation Challenge Electric Utilities

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

Scientists and engineers are rolling out an ever expanding list of neat tools to help solve both environmental and public health issues caused by some of the ways we make electricity.

One of the side effects will likely be an involuntary transformation of the electrical system of the United States. Soon.

The most recent report shows that 37% of all electricity made in the United States comes from burning coal.[1] Burning coal is much worse for human health than most people know. Our roughly 500 coal plants cause over 200,000 emergency room visits each year, 20,000 heart attacks, and contribute heavily to the asthma now suffered by one in ten of ou…

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Faith and Energy Policy

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

In this article I am going to show one area where some public policy goals peacefully join with faith community ideals. 

Energy is such a vital life support that where we get it and how we use it seriously impacts the design of our society. This is an area loaded with ethical and moral choices. All sorts of trade-offs exist, including how we reconcile the risks of supply interruption by other nations with national defense issues,  to creation of life shortening pollution, and social equity concerns about the impact of the rising costs of energy on the less well off. 

We have made some progress.   Since 1970, energy consumption per American citizen has dropped from…

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Waste Not - Make Electricity Instead

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D. 

I bet that you do not often think about the role sewage treatment will play in the future of your family.

Starting around the time of the second world war a torrent of new medicines were added to the waste that the sewage treatment plants had to handle. Simply put, if you apply modern medicines to your skin, or put it in your mouth, some portion winds up at the plant.

Add to that the enormous increase in chemicals produced for use in industry, farming, painting homes, and even paving streets, and you can see that the very nature of sewage has changed. In 1940 about 1 billion pounds of synthetic (not found in nature) chemicals were produced. By 1990 that number grew to ov…

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North Georgia Shows Us How to Stop Flushing Money Down the Toilet

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

15 counties in North Georgia, around Atlanta came together to form The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. This group  figured out a clever way to slow the rise in cost of water and sewage treatment for their customers while protecting the environment. [1]   This successful effort  reduced water usage per capita by one fifth with no pain to the customer at all!

First, they realized  that only one-third of all water use was by industry or shopping centers and so forth.  Since most of the rest was used in homes,  they looked at major household uses.  Nationally,  about 15%  to 25% of a…

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Putting a Cap (and Trade) on Emissions

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

Putting a Cap (and Trade) on Emissions In 1950, there were 2.5 billion people on earth. Forty years later, in 1990, that number doubled to more than 5 billion people. By 2010, just twenty years later, we are at almost 7 billion. Scientists tell us that the population of the earth is likely to grow from its current 7 billion to 8 billion in 7 years - by 2020. And one in three people walking around will be Indian or Chinese. Energy use by a citizen of the USA in 2010 was roughly 24 times that of a citizen India and 7 times more than a Chinese citizen.

India and China are on their way to developing a middle class, members of which use more energy than poor people. As emerg…

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