The Switch: Light, Coal, Water and You
Fact: Water is increasingly a limited and limiting necessity. Atlanta’s current predicament is a likely sample of conditions to come across the country and the world. SEE THE DROUGHT MAP (and thank God for today’s rain in the southeast!)
Fact: Electric utilities are the single largest users of the region’s freshwater. It takes 25 gallons (31 from nuclear) to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity. PLEASE READ THIS!
Government agencies, however, have calculated that thermoelectric plants with once-through cooling use an average of 25 gallons of water to produce one kilowatt hour of power.
The average Georgia household burns 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. That translates to about 27,000 gallons of water.
By comparison, a family of four goes through about 9,000 gallons a month for household uses such as washing clothes, flushing toilets and showering. (so: 36,000 gallons a month total for actual use and electricity equivalent water usage for a Georgia family of four. Times _??_ such families in the Atlanta area…/FF)
Fact: It takes ONE pound of coal to produce ONE kilowatt of electricity. The average American home requires some 11000 pounds of coal a year to power their homes.
Over 56 percent of the electricity in U.S. is generated from coal.Â Â In fact, more than 84 percent of the coal consumed each year in the U.S. is used to generate electricity.Â It takes about one pound of coal to generate one kilowatt hour (kwh) of electricity.
Fact: Mountaintop removal (IMAGES) is destroying many miles of streams and countless acres of irreplaceable forest each year, with the loss of its varied environmental services and the quality of life for real families who live where there used to be mountains–to provide millions of American homes with electricity. Much of that electricity is wasted by inefficient use habits and appliances (including bulbs.)
Fact: Solar technologies will soon or already have become more efficient at the production of electrical energy than coal. THIS could be very good news (but not to the electrical utility barons.)
Conclusion: That we save very much precious water by using less electricity in our homes, shopping centers, office buildings and cities. We can and should make this change in our collective habits now. Not later.
Conclusion: That if we made a major national and political effort to move away from coal (for a half-dozen urgent and moral reasons of human and environmental health) we could stop destroying mountains, communities, water resources, air quality and more in our lifetime.