Friday, March 30, 2012

Electricity

Our electric company - Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) -- included an interesting chart with our most recent billing. A few years ago the NH Legislature passed a law requiring electric suppliers to disclose all energy sources and their air emissions characteristics. Here is the chart for our electricity supply, which comes from the New England power grid via PSNH (click on chart to enlarge) -- it is a little light so perhaps hard to read.
A couple key points from the chart:
  • The percentage of renewables in the mix is 19% for PSNH and 12% region-wide. Hydropower (9%) and wood (5.7%) are the biggest sources. Solar is less than 1%; other minor sources include landfill gas, wind, municipal waste, and biomass.
  • The non-renewables mix at 80% for PSNH includes: coal (60.9%), gas (11.8%), nuclear (5.9%), oil (<1%), jet (<1%).
  • The air emissions -- carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide -- for the PSNH mix are much worse than for the New England mix, presumably because of the high proportion of coal (60%) in the PSNH mix versus 11.8% coal in the regional mix.
  • Although the New England mix has less renewable sources in the mix (12%), the air emissions from the mix is far better, with a greater reliance on nuclear and gas and much less on coal.
The main conclusion that I draw from this information is that most of our electricity comes from air polluting fossil fuels. Unless we become self-sufficient and get off the grid, we are part of this polluting industry. And as far as I can tell, PSNH is our only choice for electricity supply. Our best contribution is to be as energy efficient as possible and reduce our use of electricity where possible. We try.

2 comments:

  1. Efficiency is the first step for sure. We recently installed power strips on many of our appliances such as the microwave, clothes washer, stereo. All of these have LED lights that stay on even when not in use. We turn them off and have noticed a drop in our monthly bill. Of course we are REALLY looking forward to our solar panel instillation this summer. Though Unitil is our energy supplier, I think most of our sources are also coal. So replacing dirty coal power with clean solar energy will be our small contribution to the cause. Ruth S.

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  2. Your are doing a great job Ruth!

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