Georgia a poor steward of its energy, money

According to researchers at Georgia Tech and Duke University, Georgia has one of the least energy-efficient economies in the country. We rank 44th for energy codes and other policies to encourage efficiency in the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors.

That’s the bad news.

But there’s good news too.  Georgia has no oil, gas or coal reserves and little untapped hydroelectric capacity, but because of its wastefulness it does have great potential to “create” energy through conservation, making itself both more competitive economically and more responsible environmentally.

(That concept of “creating energy” through conservation can be tricky, but it makes sense. After all, every gallon of oil or kilowatt of electricity that we do not use for one purpose is freed up to be used for some other purpose.)

And how much of an impact can conservation have?

According to the study, with no changes in how we do things, energy consumption in Georgia will increase by 15 percent by 2030.

But by implementing proven, basic conservation strategies already in place elsewhere — strategies that in most cases would more than repay the investment — Georgia could be using less energy 20 years from now than we do today, even after accounting for growth.
But why? Why should we go through the trouble?

The ongoing tragedy in the Gulf is one reason. We won’t be able to wean ourselves from our dependence on oil within the lifetime of anybody alive today, which means continued drilling will be necessary. But as we do drill and pump, we have an obligation to minimize the impact by using oil as efficiently as possible.

The 12 million barrels of oil that we import each day from places such as the Middle East and Venezuela — and the $800 million a day we send overseas in return, often to people who don’t really like us much — offer another reason to conserve.

The lives of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas in part to keep the oil flowing also weigh in that balance.

Yet another reason is NASA data reporting that April 2010 was the hottest April on record, that March was the hottest March on record and that the 12 months from April 2009 to April 2010 constitute the hottest 12 months on record.

For some, however, those aren’t reason enough. For those reluctant souls, the Georgia Tech-Duke study offers more direct benefits.

For example, Atlanta Gas Light is now before the state Public Service Commission, seeking a significant rate hike. Later this year, Georgia Power is expected to seek a rate hike of $800 million a year, with additional major rate hikes expected as the company starts construction on two expensive new nuclear reactors.

However, by retrofitting homes and businesses, using more efficient appliances and taking other cost-effective steps, researchers at Georgia Tech and Duke predict that we could avoid having to build as many as six 500-megawatt plants by 2020.
We would also cut our annual energy costs by $3.8 billion a year by 2020, in turn producing a net gain of 32,200 new Georgia jobs.
Throughout the South, the report claims, fewer new power plants would also allow the region to save more than 20 billion gallons of fresh water annually by 2030.
However, energy policy in Georgia is largely dictated by utility companies that have captured both the state Legislature and the PSC, the agency that is supposed to regulate them. What they want is generally what they get, and conservation just doesn’t excite them much, for obvious reasons.
Georgia Power, for example, sells electricity. Like any business, it’s not all that interested in proposals that mean it would sell less of its product, even if it means the state as a whole would save money.
In their report, titled “Energy Efficiency in the South,” researchers also cite a 2009 poll reporting that Southerners are significantly less likely to support conservation than are their fellow Americans.
Only 48 percent of those in the South support rules requiring energy conservation, compared to 62 percent in the Midwest and 60 percent in the West. Market penetration for high-efficiency appliances is also low here.
In other words, the biggest obstacle is, well, us.

32 comments Add your comment

King of All

May 21st, 2010
6:46 am

Wake up !! All you Liberal haters :-)

Goober

May 21st, 2010
6:48 am

Out of necessity, I’ve had to replace an air condition system, refrigerator, dishwasher and water heater in the last year. They were real dinosaurs. My power bill is 55 cents less per month than this period last month. Something’s working.

Goober

May 21st, 2010
6:51 am

Less than this period last YEAR. Sorry.

King of All

May 21st, 2010
7:03 am

Jay, I can’t believe you are still buying into that global warming propganda. When I put my level on the ground outside, the bubble sits still in the middle; therefore the world is flat. I like the idea of Perdue permitting Georgia Power to charge in advance for something they might not even deliver. Only democrats do bad things are these here parts.

Compromised Position

May 21st, 2010
7:20 am

As usualy, Jay, many people in the south respond best to a swift kick in the rear — not a nice reasoned well thought out story, of sorts. When their “lights” are cut off for non-payment, that is usually enough to get their attention long enough to make them notice how much it will cost to get them turned back on and usually even then they complain most about the re-connect fees or late fees or the taxes — not the electricity cost per kwh. Wait until it hits the out of pocket equivalent of the $5/gallon mark with gas. Then, more southern folks will start paying attention to the air pressure in their home’s tires. You can always deal with explaining that tire pressure don’t matter when they’re off the ground on blocks, later.

Scooter

May 21st, 2010
7:25 am

OK, I have a deal for ya.We in the south will cut back our AC units and stop pumping furnace fuel to the yankees. Another problem solved! :grin:

Compromised Position

May 21st, 2010
7:30 am

… We in the south will …stop pumping furnace fuel to the yankees.

And store it in the Gulf ’til needed.

Another problem solved!

We should be thanking BP for coming up with that low-cost storage solution, at no extra charge.

stands for decibels

May 21st, 2010
7:32 am

In other words, the biggest obstacle is, well, us.

At some point in these discussions we always get to talking about whether attitudes are perhaps changing in the South, and if perhaps those changes are driven as much by the influx of transplants from other parts of the country (and other countries, period.)

I’m just wondering, has anyone ever done specific issue polling cross-tabbed to separate more recent arrivals from longtime residents?

I say that because some people tend to assume that the newer folks are more progressive, whereas other people tend to assume that the transplants are just as likely to have moved Down Here because they wanted to live in a more politically conservative place than (say) the NorthEast. I don’t think either side really knows either way, though, absent polling data.

Whacks Eloquent

May 21st, 2010
7:39 am

db, I’ll second that. I’ve seen a wide variety of backgrounds and political views from people I know who have moved into at least the NE suburbs of Atlanta. I will say this though – most people who are moving in from the North are not accustomed to our heat and humidity, and probably are more likely to overtax their AC system than “natives”. And I’ll throw in another shameless plug for my beloved ceiling fans! :-D

Outhouse GoKart

May 21st, 2010
7:41 am

If GA would do its part by adopting energy efficient planning we could be viewed as more environmentally friendly by our global parters!

Outhouse GoKart

May 21st, 2010
7:43 am

We MUST become more energy frugal.

Lets do it for the children.
Lets do it for our City.
Lets do it for our State.
Lets do it for Barack and Michelle.
Lets do it for lower energy bills so the energy providing entities, public and private, can then raise our rates.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin....

May 21st, 2010
7:47 am

Blah, blah, blah.

The same liberals that whine and moan about nuclear energy, blah, blah, blah.

Just sayin….

What’s it any business of their’s to begin with?

Scooter

May 21st, 2010
7:48 am

Compromised Position

May 21st, 2010
7:30 am

:lol:

Scooter

May 21st, 2010
7:52 am

What’s it any business of their’s to begin with?

Danged if I know!

stands for decibels

May 21st, 2010
8:05 am

Danged if I know!

Really? You buy into the notion that everyone is an island, that what one person does has nothing whatsoever to do with the lives of others sharing this ecosystem? Ok, I guess I can see the attractiveness of such thinking, morally vacant as it may be.

Let’s talk dollars and cents instead. You think that our subsidized, cheap gasoline (you don’t think that what you pay at the pump represents anything like the actual cost of burning this vile crap, do you?) doesn’t affect things like foreign policy, military spending, healthcare?

Really?

AmVet

May 21st, 2010
8:07 am

Conservation and stewardship are anti-Republican.

Road Scholar

May 21st, 2010
8:07 am

We don’t need any conservation! Just look at our roadsides with trash, debris, and cigarette butts everywhere! And we are now required to conserve water since Uncle Sonny can’t bully his way to controling our water. And now you want us to conserve energy?

Our citizens are pigs! Only when they are hit in their wallets will they change, after much complaining and not taking responsibility. Adjust the gas tax to inflation! Pay what it really costs for energy…then conservation will take off.

On transportation, how are those managed lanes doing for ya? GDOT backing up again. Adjust the fuel tax to inflation (hasn’t been adjusted since the early 1980’s) so alternate fuels and technology advances can create jobs.

stands for decibels

May 21st, 2010
8:08 am

DADT sheets.

Normal

May 21st, 2010
8:11 am

A question to ponder…and I hope someone will answer.

It costs thousands of dollars to make a household (including cars) self suffienct in energy usage. How long will it take to recoup those dollars with savings in energy/gas bills?

Outhouse GoKart

May 21st, 2010
8:23 am

“It costs thousands of dollars to make a household (including cars) self suffienct in energy usage. How long will it take to recoup those dollars with savings in energy/gas bills?”

A lifetiime?

md

May 21st, 2010
8:26 am

“Adjust the gas tax to inflation! Pay what it really costs for energy…then conservation will take off.”

And watch the economy go the other way.

Road Scholar

May 21st, 2010
8:28 am

md: Where are your free market priciples?

md

May 21st, 2010
8:28 am

“It costs thousands of dollars to make a household (including cars) self suffienct in energy usage. How long will it take to recoup those dollars with savings in energy/gas bills?”

Unfortunately, longer than today’s gypsy population stays in one place. Folks used to buy a home and stay in it for years – not so anymore, and folks don’t want to spend the extra bucks because of it.

md

May 21st, 2010
8:30 am

“md: Where are your free market principles?”

As long as there is gov’t, there won’t be any. The manipulation started many moons ago, so now we must live with it as best we can.

Doggone/GA

May 21st, 2010
8:41 am

“As long as there is gov’t, there won’t be any”

And as long as there are greedy, dishonest “businessmen” there won’t be either. In other words: there never will be

Saul Good

May 21st, 2010
8:44 am

What Ga also has is an overabundance of Over-sized “tacky” looking Mcmansions that are actually built like junk that is covered with spit and polish…from poor windows and doors, not nearly enough insulation, inefficient heating and air conditioning sytems, and lots and lots of trees cut down that are replaced with lawns (and a few twigs to replace the “old” ones that were cut down) which suck up needed water and are also doused with billions of pounds of harmful chemicals that pollute or creeks, streams, rivers and lakes… fear of “mass transit” and the failure to get away from the road building mentality… people who drive oversized trucks just to be able to drop the kiddies at school…. and to be honest…too MANY kids per household as well (because NOTHING wastes more then adding MORE wasteful humans to the planet…”wasteful” because they’ll end up like their wasteful parents)… oh and last but not least NO mandatory STATEWIDE recycling….the term “environmentally friendly” and GA are about as opposite as one could get.

md

May 21st, 2010
8:49 am

“And as long as there are greedy, dishonest “businessmen” there won’t be either. In other words: there never will be”

Unfortunately, those greedy, dishonest folks are part of the “free” market, while gov’t is not.

But, there still will never be.

Moderate Line

May 21st, 2010
8:49 am

Georgia Power, for example, sells electricity. Like any business, it’s not all that interested in proposals that mean it would sell less of its product, even if it means the state as a whole would save money.
++++++++++++++++++++++
This statement is incorrect. Utilities are not really like any business. They can not go for greater market share. What they charge is regulated. Anyone who has to deal with utilities as business knows they are not like a business. They are more like a government agency in order to increase revenue they have to appeal to a board.

Other than that this article has good points.

To Solve This Problem......

May 21st, 2010
9:00 am

No need to conserve. America has plenty of oil.

DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!!

np

May 21st, 2010
1:20 pm

Georgia Power runs Georgia. Period. Forget conservation. They would rather our (& their own) children and grandchildren breathe coal particulates. It’s all about profits. They are not “regulated” in any meaningful way. The regulators are in their pocket.

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 21st, 2010
2:28 pm

I guess I’m what many would consider a backwards Southerner but when I built my house, I built it with a full length porch front and rear to shade the house. I also have a ceiling fan in every room and an attic fan. My AC is never turned on before the Memorial Day weekend. Wonder how many others can say that?

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