Two summers ago, Americans were reeling over the exorbitant gas prices that averaged $4.50 per gallon. As gas prices are once again beginning to inch their way back to those numbers, former president of Shell oil John Hofmeister predicts that America will witness a continued rise to well over $5 per gallon in two years.
BrightSource Energy, headquartered in Oakland, California, is developing the $2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in the Mojave Desert — the first large-scale solar thermal project built in the Golden State in nearly two decades. Once constructed, it will be the largest in the world, possibly doubling the amount of U.S.-produced commercial solar thermal electricity.
Those of us who drive in the Midwest or Southwest are often startled to see a plethora of wind turbines sprouting like overnight mushrooms in an area we remember as farms or grazing lands. But unlike the fragile mushrooms that we kicked over when walking to school on spring mornings, these mushrooms have 700-ton concrete bases, are nearly 30 stories tall, and cost upwards of $3,570,000 each. What caused all this to happen since our last trip to the area? Who is footing the bill? And why?
According to the 2009 Energy Information Agency Report on Electricity Generation, wind power provided 70.8 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) out of the U.S. total of 3,953 billion kWh. Why, it must be asked, does wind power equal only 1.79 percent of the generated power when over the past 30 years seemingly every political speech has contained the phrase “wind, solar, or other renewables” as the solution to our energy problems?
As America struggles with expensive energy provided by foreign nations without our best interests at heart, West Virginians must wonder why. America is rich in coal, a resource that could supply our nation’s energy needs for the foreseeable future. West Virginia, in particular, has a vast abundance of this safe and proven energy source. Moreover, West Virginians, who face serious problems with unemployment, are ready to do the productive and important work of bringing that coal to market in America.