The Energy Information Agency in March published the break down in sources of U.S. Electricity Generation, 2011. It showed 42 percent of all electricity in this country is generated by coal. Next is natural gas at 25 percent. Nuclear is 19 percent, followed by hydropower at 8 percent. Wind produces 3 percent of our electricity with biomass produces about 1 percent. While petroleum, geothermal and solar all produce less than 1 percent each. These are all valuable components of our energy strategy.
Earlier this week I noticed that on “all of the above” section of President Obama’s campaign website, coal and hydropower have been left out! Coal plays such a vital role in our nation’s energy supply at 42 percent. It has to be a part of the conversation about an “all of the above” energy strategy.
By taking clean coal completely off the table, you could see an increase in electricity prices which will directly harm manufacturers’ ability to compete and create jobs. Taking coal offline through the EPA regulations is already threatening our power grid and causing reliability problems.
Later in the week I heard that coal was back on the President’s “all of the above” list so I pulled up the webpage and sure enough coal was back “in” but where was still no hydropower.
Hydropower produces more electricity than all the other renewables combined. According to EIA over half of the hydropower generated in this country comes from three states: Washington, Oregon and California. Hydropower is clean, renewable and affordable.
Manufacturers need energy to produce products. Without energy this country cannot produce anything. We need energy from all sources and we cannot afford to take one source out of the mix. So when you see the phrase “all-of –the-above” I guess you need to ask yourself the question, “that depends on how you define the word all?”
Chip Yost is associate vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.