Sources of Community EnergyTerm Paper

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[. . .] That can be an issue, but it is a small one when compared to other energy sources that require nearly complete destruction of the natural environment in order to be useful (Lovins, 2011; Makower, Pernick, & Wilder, 2009). Additionally, the sources of power that Willows is using will not be used up by their consumption, so there is no concern that the community will run out of power. It will not be possible to run out of sunshine or out of wind, and running out of water from major rivers in the area would be highly unlikely. If SRP did have to switch away from hydroelectric power at a later date, the community could transfer over to solar and wind only, by building more wind farms or adding more solar panels and substations. Alternative options for power could also be considered. There are always choices to be made when it comes to how to power a community, but that does not mean that all choices would be good ones (Lovins, 2011).

Monthly and Yearly Energy Usage

Our house uses an average of 850 kWh of energy per month, which is slightly below the national average of 903. As such, annual usage is 10,200 kWh. There are 586 homes in Willow, so that usage could be extrapolated out to approximately 5,977,200 kWh per year for the entire community. That may seem like a great deal of energy, but it is important to consider that there are many, many more households outside of the community that also need power. What Willow is using is a small portion of the amount that the city of Gilbert would need. When seen that way, the figures really start to add up, and one can quickly determine why renewable energy sources are needed. With the level of power consumption taking place in the United States, not having renewable energy sources could mean that communities like Willow would run out of power. That would leave them subject to periods of no power at all, called blackouts, that would understandably be a problem for their residents. Rather than take these kinds of risks, it is far easier to have renewable resources at one's disposal.

The amount of energy used throughout the country is staggering, and many places still rely on fossil fuels for their power (Aitken, 2010). When they do this, they find that they are running low on what they need to keep power on to homes and businesses. As the resources they need to provide power dry up, they have to work harder and harder to find more of what they are looking for. That added cost is passed along to the consumer in the form of higher power bills (Aitken, 2010). Willows has less risk of that, because of the renewable resources that are used for power there. With a focus on options that are not going to run out, there is little if any extra cost that ever needs to be passed along. That can make all the difference when it comes to the solvency of a power company like SRP, and it can also make a difference when a person is deciding where to live. The cost of power and the likelihood that cost will rise are both very significant considerations for many people when they are choosing a home, and can affect them for a lifetime.

Recommendations for Renewable Resources

With SRP already using so many renewable options, there are not that many additional choices to consider. However, geothermal energy is well worth considering for a community like Willows and the entire city of Gilbert because of its hot, desert location. Geothermal energy involves using the temperature from the ground to heat and cool a home (Makower, Pernick, & Wilder, 2009). Large pipes are placed down into the ground, almost like digging a well. These are filled with water, and that water transfers heat and cold very well. As such, it can be used to heat and cool a home without a lot of trouble. However, these kinds of heating and cooling options are expensive, and they are done one house at a time. While homes in the area could switch over to geothermal energy, it would not be likely that SRP could switch over completely. Still, SRP could create some geothermal farms that would produce electricity, and could use that power to help its homes keep their lights on. The main problem with geothermal energy is that it is still relatively new, and that means that the costs to use it are still very high (Makower, Pernick, & Wilder, 2009).

Right now, it is really not feasible for SRP to consider geothermal power, because of the costs that do not outweigh the benefits. Fortunately, there are options to use this kind of power as a bigger part of the puzzle in the future. As the costs for geothermal energy come down and new and better ways are found to harness it, SRP may be able to switch over to using more of it. That could provide another great renewable energy resource, but will need to be expanded to cover the Willow community and the rest of Gilbert. Right now, this type of energy is only a very small part of what SRP uses, because it is not cost effective to expand it to anything more. It is more of an experiment than a valuable commodity currently, but that can and will change in the future, as technology for renewable energy sources is always moving forward and will continue to do so throughout the country.

Conclusion

Using geothermal energy as an alternative power source is very realistic, but only for the future. Right now the costs are simply too high to make it work properly. The rates that are charged by SRP for electric to homes and businesses would have to rise too much to accommodate geothermal options at this time, and there would not be enough power generated to go around to everyone who needs it. When this does take place, though, it is likely that the people of Willows will support the change. They are already used to other forms of power that come from renewable and sustainable resources, so using geothermal power will not be anything that new to them.

Since it will not be a huge change, and will not strongly impact their power bill, they would not have logical reasons to reject the change. Many of them may not even notice the change, as long as their power is as reliable as it has ever been. Over time, geothermal options for Willows and other communities will become less cost prohibitive. The option to use this kind of power will also not be that hard on the environment, because it is not destroying areas where animals and plants live. The drilling of the holes to place the pipes will cause some disturbance, but things in the area would soon return to normal, and that would keep the environment from changing too much or becoming damaged.

References

Aitken, D.W. (2010). Transitioning to a renewable energy future. NY: International Solar Energy Society.

Lovins, A. (2011). Reinventing fire: Bold business solutions for the new… [END OF PREVIEW]

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