Energy can be neither created nor destroyed—but it can be wasted. The United States wastes two-thirds of its energy, including 80 percent of the energy used in transportation. So the nation has a tremendous opportunity to develop a sensible energy policy based on benefits and costs. But to do that we need facts—not hyperbole, not wishful thinking. Mara Prentiss presents and interprets political and technical information from government reports and press releases, as well as fundamental scientific laws, to advance a bold claim: wind and solar power could generate 100 percent of the United States’ average total energy demand for the foreseeable future, even without waste reduction.To meet the actual rather than the average demand, significant technological and political hurdles must be overcome. Still, a U.S. energy economy based entirely on wind, solar, hydroelectricity, and biofuels is within reach. The transition to renewables will benefit from new technologies that decrease energy consumption without lifestyle sacrifices, including energy optimization from interconnected smart devices and waste reduction from use of LED lights, regenerative brakes, and electric cars. Many countries cannot obtain sufficient renewable energy within their borders, Prentiss notes, but U.S. conversion to a 100 percent renewable energy economy would, by itself, significantly reduce the global impact of fossil fuel consumption.Enhanced by full-color visualizations of key concepts and data, Energy Revolution answers one of the century’s most crucial questions: How can we get smarter about producing and distributing, using and conserving, energy?
Traditionally protected as monopolies, electric utilities are now being caught in the fervor for deregulation that is sweeping the country. Nearly forty states have enacted or are considering laws and regulations that will profoundly alter the way the electric utility industry is governed. Concerned citizens are beginning to ponder the environmental implications of such a change, and while many fear that the pressure of competition will exacerbate environmental problems, others argue that deregulation provides a tremendous opportunity for citizens to work toward promoting cleaner energy and a more sustainable way of life.
In Reinventing Electric Utilities, Ed Smeloff and Peter Asmus consider the challenges for citizens and the utility industry in this new era of competition. Through an in-depth case study of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a once-troubled utility that is now widely regarded as a model for energy efficiency and renewable energy development, they explore the changes that have occurred in the utility industry, and the implications of those changes for the future. The SMUD portrait is complemented by regional case studies of Portland General Electric and the Washington Public Power Supply System, the New England Electric Service, Northern States Power, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, and others that highlight the efforts of citizen groups and utilities to eliminate unproductive and environmentally damaging sources of power and to promote the use of new, cleaner energy technologies.
The authors present and explain some of the fundamental principles that govern restructuring, while acknowledging that solutions will depend upon the unique resource needs, culture, and utility structure of each particular region. Smeloff and Asmus argue that any politically sustainable restructuring of the electric services industry must address the industry's high capital cost commitments and environmental burdens.
Throughout, they make the case that with creative leadership, open and competitive markets, and the active participation of citizens, this upheaval offers a unique opportunity for electric utilities to lessen the burden of electricity production on the environment and reduce the cost of electric services through the use of more competitive, cleaner power sources.
While neither technological innovation nor the magic of the market will in and of itself reinvent the electric utility industry, the influence of those dynamic forces must be understood. Reinventing Electric Utilities is an important work for policymakers, energy professionals, and anyone concerned about the future of the electric services industry.
Bringing the word sustainability back from the brink of cliché—to a substantive, truly sustainable future
Is sustainability a hopelessly vague word, with meager purpose aside from a feel-good appeal to the consumer? In The Three Sustainabilities, Allan Stoekl seeks to (re)valorize the word, for a simple reason: it is useful. Sustainability designates objects in time, their birth or genesis, their consistency, their survival, their demise. And it raises the question, as no other word does, of the role of humans in the survival of a world that is quickly disappearing—and perhaps in the genesis of another world.
Stoekl considers a range of possibilities for the word, touching upon questions of object ontology, psychoanalysis, urban critique, technocracy, and religion. He argues that there are three varieties of sustainability, seen from philosophical, cultural, and economic perspectives. One involves the self-sustaining world “without us”; another, the world under our control, which can run the political spectrum from corporatism to Marxism to the Green New Deal; and a third that carries a social and communitarian charge, an energy of the “universe” affirmed through, among other things, meditation and gifting. Each of these carves out a different space in the relations between objects, humans, and their survival and degradation. Each is necessary, unavoidable, and intimately bound with, and infinitely distant from, the others.
Along the way, Stoekl cites a wide range of authors, from philosophers to social thinkers, literary theorists to criminologists, anthropologists to novelists. This beautifully written, compelling, and nuanced book is a must for anyone interested in questions of ecology, energy, the environmental humanities, contemporary theories of the object, postmodern and posthuman aesthetics, or religion and the sacred in relation to community.
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