Overall US generation of energy by renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
Overall US generation of energy by renewable and non-renewable energy sources.  

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

GOP Promotes Greater Use of Nuclear Energy
Published Friday, June 12th, 2009

The House Republicans have planned to introduce an energy bill, called the American Energy Act, as an alternative to the Democratic plan scheduled for vote this month. The proposal seeks to push for 100 nuclear reactor plants to be built over the next 20 years. Also, the bill calls for increased oil and gas production on public and private lands and offshore, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Within the act, there is also no cap on emissions. This comes as the Department of Energy has awarded a $587,000 grant as a part of the DoE’s investment in nuclear energy research and development for the new Nuclear Energy University Program.

The Republican plan is ambitious since there has not been a new nuclear plant in the US since 1978 due to the high cost of construction and difficulty with regulatory approval. Currently there are 104 commercial nuclear reactors generating 100,000 megawatts of electricity, which makes the US the largest supplier. The overall percentage of the total US net generation of electricity produced by nuclear energy, which increased rapidly from 1974 to 1988 and afterwards remained at 20% present.

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Government Doubles Weatherization Funding
Published Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

With the weather turning from frigid winter to sunny spring for many Americans, Vice-President Joe Biden and The Energy Secretary Chu have detailed an investment of nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts$5 billion for weatherization and $3 billion for the State Energy Program—as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Department of Energy hopes to put 87,000 Americans to work and help save families hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. The fund will help families add more insulation, thereby sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning systems.   The program will allow an average investment of $6,500 per family making up to 200% of the federal poverty level-or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. The weatherization improvements are expected to reduce heating bills by an average of 32%, an overall savings of hundreds of dollars a year.

The funding for weatherization and energy efficient programs has various sources, mainly the Federal and State government, emergency funding, and utilities themselves. Traditionally, Federal, State and Local government funding has provided $1 to $2 billion with—beginning in 2001—utilities and charities providing funds that match or exceed government funding. However, in the 2009 fiscal year budget, the U.S. Government has added doubled its contribution from $1.98 to $4.41 billion.  US consumption of energy has recently decreased about 6 tiliion Btu to 99.4 quadrillion Btu in 2006, of that little over 7% comes from renewable energy sources.

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New Water Heaters to Lower Energy Consumption
Published Thursday, February 12th, 2009

The Department of Energy has announced the release of Energy Star-qualified residential water heaters. These include five types of heaters: high-efficiency gas storage water heaters; gas condensing water heaters; whole-home gas tankless water heaters; heat pump water heaters; and solar water heaters. For the average home, water heating is the second largest energy expense and it represents 15.5% of all national energy consumption. The Energy Star program—started in 1992—claims that the heaters can reduce water heating bills from 7.5% to 55%. The projected savings from the new devices comes to $823 million in utility cost over the next 5 years. Environmentally, using the new heaters will avoid 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and save more than 3.9 billion kilowatt hours and 270 million therms of natural gas—the equivalent of energy to power more than 375,000 homes for a year.

Residential energy use has, in 2005, resumed its steady increase after a decade long rise in overall energy usage. For most regions, the use of energy is either experienced a gradually rise, like the western region, or dropped, like the Northeast or Midwest. However, the South has dramatically increased its residential consumption. Housing markets for the time period exploded, nearly quadrupling in the South. And the nationwide level of energy efficiency has reached 7810 trillion Btus for single-family detached homes in 2005, from 6845 Btus in 2001.

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