8 March: Look beyond the power bill

 

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Tia Banda, Malawi “Malawi depends largely on hydroelectric power for energy in both its industry and domestic uses. Persistent droughts and erratic rains caused by climate change have reduced water levels in Lake Malawi; as a result, Malawi is experiencing extreme blackouts that last a minimum of 24 hours. This affects all production in micro-enterprises and causes unwanted deaths in hospitals.”

Look beyond the power bill. The way electricity is generated in your area will have consequences for generations. Find out how electricity is produced in your region.

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Power generation varies by country and within countries. In South America, for example, Chile gets 45% of its power from renewable sources, while Argentina gets only 2%. Regions within the United States also vary widely — the state of Georgia has gotten 50% of its energy from renewables, while West Virginia has gotten less than 1%.

These numbers demonstrate that the story of how your power is generated can be either a story of progress or a story of harming our common home. What is the story in your area?

Your power bill may include information on how electricity is generated. If not, contact your utility to request the information.

If the percentage of renewable power is less than 100%, encourage a rapid transition to clean energy. Here are some ideas:

  • Write a letter to the editor for your local newspaper, describing how much of your local energy is dirty, why that matters, and what you’d like to change.
  • Get a group of neighbors together to meet with the utility, your local elected representative, or both.
  • Investigate whether clean-energy alternatives (such as RECs, or renewable energy certificates) are available in your area.
  • Replace part or all of your electricity with solar power.
 

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