The definition of “infrastructure” includes more than roads in the twenty-first century; it includes alternative energy production.

A sound energy policy represents a fundamental component of resilience for the twenty-first century. Despite unending promises, our national leaders have consistently failed reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

From The Money Game:

* In 1974 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Richard Nixon said, “At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need.”

* In 1975 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Gerald Ford said, “We must reduce oil imports by one million barrels per day by the end of this year and by two million barrels per day by the end of 1977.”

* In 1979 with 40.5% of oil from foreign sources, President Jimmy Carter said, “Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 – never.”

* In 1981 with 43.6% of oil from foreign sources, President Ronald Reagan said, “While conservation is worthy in itself, the best answer is to try to make us independent of outside sources to the greatest extent possible for our energy.”

* In 1992 with 47.2% of oil from foreign sources, President George Bush said, “When our administration developed our national energy strategy, three principles guided our policy: reducing our dependence on foreign oil…”

* In 1995 with 49.8% of oil from foreign sources, President Bill Clinton said, “The nation’s growing reliance on imports of oil…threatens the nation’s security…[we] will continue efforts to…enhance domestic energy production.”

* In 2006 with 65.5% of oil from foreign sources, President George W. Bush said, “Breakthroughs…will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”

* In 2009 with 66.2% of oil from foreign sources, President Barack Obama said, “It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”

The definition of infrastructure will include more than roads and bridges in the twenty-first century. It will likely include telecommunications, water sanitation and food distribution assets. However, it will certainly include energy production and distribution.

Do you remember the energy crisis of 2008 when the price of gas was around 4 to 5 dollars per gallon in the United States and companies and farms were failing left and right. Our country has relied on fossil fuels as the main source of energy for centuries. This dependence has produced a very fragile economy, the opposite of resilient.

An infrastructure for resilience to “energy crises” includes multiple sources of energy and power production. Alabama can lead the way by shoring up our local economies against such crises by weaning ourselves off foreign oil as a source of energy.

The United States is currently importing about 70 percent of its renewable energy systems and components,” said Phil Angelides, chairman of the Apollo Alliance. “If that trend continues, we stand to lose out on estimated 100,000 clean energy manufacturing jobs by 2015, and nearly 250,000 by 2030. This country needs a comprehensive clean-energy economic development strategy so we can ensure that jobs being created in the clean-energy sector stay in America

By pursuing diversified energy production, Alabama could become energy independent and self-reliant; at the same time becoming the manufacturing center of alternative energy capital.

Alabama would need employ all our natural resources to accomplish this goal. Never again should we become so vulnerable as we are today by being dependent on a single source of energy.

Available options for Alabama are great:

Consider geothermal. Did you know that District 13 has geothermal capacity? See this report. Considering the cost of production of geothermal, District 13 may be sitting on a gold mine. Geothermal projects have already started in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.Or consider the potential Alabama has for solar energy. How about investing in solar energy production by employing our schools as platforms for solar panels? Could each Alabama residence become a net energy producer rather than mere consumer?

Or tidal power off the gulf coast?

Wind power? We are beginning to pursue some of these alternative options such as wind power. “The Tennessee Valley Authority hasn’t expanded its investment in wind power since 2004, but recently has “signed contracts to buy 1,380 megawatts of wind-generated power from providers outside the Tennessee Valley,” according to this report.

While multiple sources of energy production represent one side of the equation for a resilient energy infrastructure; a smart and secure distribution of that power is critical. Microgrids may provide part of the answer; I will save that for later post.

Let us stop waiting upon the federal government to solve this problem; Alabama can, and must, lead the way for its own security and peace of mind.


2 responses to “The definition of “infrastructure” includes more than roads in the twenty-first century; it includes alternative energy production.

  1. Pingback: Why no goals for renewable energy sources in the South? | Greg Varner for Alabama State Senate

  2. Pingback: USDA Invites Applications for Renewable Energy Funding « Greg Varner for Alabama State Senate

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