Energy proposal

Feb. 10, 2009
Energy Expert Peter Garforth puts forth his vision for an energy efficient and economically secure world in this hypothetical piece. Is this a speech you would like to make into reality?

“We face unprecedented worldwide crises from the economy and climate change through our irresponsible use of credit and energy with little thought of future effects. However, these crises contain the seeds of their own solution. Today, the United States and China are taking a stand that will redefine our planet for the next century and pull us back from the abyss of irreversible climate change and economic collapse. This morning we invited all the other great nations and regions of the world to join us.

“We are launching programs to let every home and building consume one-third less energy within five years. Investing in tens of millions of properties every year will create millions of jobs and put factories back to work worldwide. We are challenging every city, state and province to require new construction to match the efficiencies achieved today in many parts of Europe. When we rebuild U.S. cities and grow the new cities of China, we will encourage attractive, walkable neighborhoods that use at most 20% of today’s typical amount of energy.

“Today, when electricity is generated, at least two-thirds of the gas, coal and nuclear fuel is wasted. We can no longer tolerate this waste, cost and pollution. New generation must demonstrate that it will fully use at least three quarters of any fuel source to get approved. This will become effective in the United States beginning next year and across the whole of China within five years. This simple but dramatic decision means local combined heat and power generation, and wind, solar and biomass generation will proliferate across our grids. It also means our cities must be restructured to make use of the heat coming from electricity generation, a challenge that great cities of Europe and Asia already have achieved.

“The electricity market will be restructured to give immediate, equitable access to both traditional and alternative sources. This will be achieved by forming a Federal High-Voltage Grid Company, similar to the Interstate Highway System, allowing competition and innovation in services and technology to thrive at the local level. The Department of Energy has been instructed to work with all 50 states to develop nationwide competitive electricity market rules by the end of the year.

“Homes and buildings account for 40% of energy use in the United States, and more than 70% of electricity. They are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Within five to 10 years, we will slash America’s urban energy use in half and set the direction to completely repower America and China with electricity that has a fraction of the economic and environmental impact of today.

“America’s transportation grew in a world of cheap energy, sprawling cities and minimal environmental concerns. This is no longer the reality. The Department of Transportation has been challenged to create a 20-year plan to ensure major population centers and major airports within 600 miles of each other are connected by high-speed passenger and freight rail. Construction of the West and East Coasts and upper Midwest routes will begin immediately. Within a decade, China will complete the current high-speed rail system along the coastal routes and the key interior links to central Asia.

“In the United States, hundreds of millions of cars and trucks contribute massive greenhouse gas emissions at high costs to the nation. The imported oil they use is a major cause of the U.S. trade deficit and political tensions. China has recognized this challenge, and the United States will immediately increase fuel efficiency and emissions standards to those in use in China today. Further, we are both committed to systematically increasing them year-on-year. The global automotive industry is on notice that innovation and efficiency will be in demand for years to come. Simultaneously, states have been instructed to adjust their vehicle license fees to reward consumers who choose more efficient, lower-emission vehicles.

“Industry is already the most energy-efficient part of our system. It now must rapidly adapt to produce the products, systems and services we will need in vast quantities to deliver on these goals. We will need all the entrepreneurial, innovative and competitive spirit that makes the United States’ and China’s economies so effective. A range of employment, credit and other incentives to retool and retrain are being put in place. At the same time, the subsidies and supports that sustained our inefficient energy systems of the past are being dismantled.

“The realities of today’s crises give few options but to move boldly and swiftly, to create tens of millions of good jobs, to stimulate the economy and to ensure the survival of the human race. The United States and China are proud to take this stand for a quarter of the world’s population and eagerly await the response to our invitation to other nations to join us.”

Peter Garforth is principal of Garforth International LLC, Toledo, Ohio. E-mail him at [email protected].

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