October is National Energy Awareness Month
I didn't know that a number of years ago, the US Department of Energy designated October as National Energy Awareness Month.
It's particularly appropriate this year given:
- the need to improve the reliability of the energy grid more generally and increased stress due to the rise in renewable energy sources and electrification of motor vehicles
- heat wave related energy blackouts and deaths of people without air conditioning (blog entry)
- cold wave related energy blackouts, especially in Texas (blog entry)
- how failures in Texas this past winter led to massive price escalation throughout the Midwest because of natural gas production and distribution
- big increases in energy prices being likely this winter
- the seeming failure of energy grid privatization in Puerto Rico ("Who's to blame for Puerto Rico's power crisis? It's complicated, a report shows," NBC News), etc.
The UK in particular and Europe more generally faces significant energy price escalation for a variety of reasons: (1) increased demand; (2) a drop off of investment in response to demand declines during the pandemic; (3) teething pains in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources; (4) fall off in renewable energy production, etc. ("Europe's energy crisis: Continent 'too reliant on gas,' says von der Leyen," Euronews).
For similar reasons, it's expected that energy prices will rise in the US this winter as well ("Home heating costs set to spike this winter amid global energy crunch," Sinclair Television, "U.S. home heating bills expected to surge this winter, EIA says," Reuters). From Reuters:
Insulate Britain: Who are the protesters and why do they keep blocking roads?," Big Issue.
Last year energy prices plunged to multi-year lows due to coronavirus demand destruction, particularly natural gas, the most popular U.S. heating fuel, which hit a 25-year-low.
Depending where people live, the EIA said residential costs will rise to about $11-$14 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) for natural gas, about $2.50-$3.50 per gallon for propane, and $3.39 per gallon for heating oil.
That compares with last winter's residential costs of around $8-$12 per mcf for natural gas, $1.50-$2.50 per gallon for propane, and $2.55 per gallon for heating oil.
More recent UK government home energy conservation programs failed and were cancelled ("Green deal scheme did not deliver energy savings, audit finds," Guardian).
The forthcoming rise in utility bills this winter re-raises the issue of energy poverty.
It would be very beneficial to have a massive home energy conservation initiative as part of a "Green New Deal" and President Biden's Build Back Better initiative which is having a hard time making it through Congress between the Republicans and the Democratic-lite Senators Sinema and Manchin.
Sadly, I doubt that energy conservation is much on the mind of Senator Manchin given how he earns millions each year from his investments in coal ("Joe Manchin’s ‘blind trust’ is an utter farce," Philadelphia Inquirer).Coming Up ‘Down the Hill’ On Peoria’s South Side," Belt Magazine.
Earlier in the year, I was shocked at an article in the Washington Post about people in Peoria's South Side neighborhood with monthly utility bills over $1,000 in the winter months, and I was surprised about reporting on how many low income households pay higher utility rates with "deregulation" rather than lower rates.
Energy conservation assistance programs for low income households should be an element of neighborhood improvement programs. In response, I added "Local neighborhood stabilization programs: Part 5 | Adding energy conservation programs, with the PUSH Buffalo Green Development Zone as a model," which suggests systematic energy conservation programs to address equity and energy poverty programs in low income communities, to my series of articles on creating neighborhood revitalization initiatives ("A once 'wonderful' part of Peoria eroded with blight and crime. Why these residents stayed," Peoria Journal-Star).
It's also a way to provide job opportunities.
But I forgot to mention the importance of trees in addressing summer heat. The New York Times has a couple of important pieces on inequitable distribution of trees in cities ("Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?" and "Why an East Harlem Street Is 31 Degrees Hotter Than Central Park West") and the contribution to the heat island effect.
Also see this blog entry and "Boston’s ‘heat islands’ turn lower-income neighborhoods from hot to insufferable," Boston Globe. (Although I remember high income areas of San Francisco being without many trees also, due to small lots and virtually 100% lot coverage by buildings.)
My piece on energy conservation as an element of neighborhood revitalization didn't mention the tree canopy as a way to address summer heat island issues, which will be of increasing importance going forward. Therefore, tree planting programs should be an element of such programs as well.
The next time I re-write "Local neighborhood stabilization programs: Part 5 | Adding energy conservation programs, with the PUSH Buffalo Green Development Zone as a model" I'll add a section on a massive tree planting program.