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Utilities Will be Forced to Figure out Tough Environmental Issues

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, a fairly reliable publication, titled “U.S. Electricity Use on Wane.”

The article cites the fact that although we have more electronic gadgets than ever before “electricity use is barely growing,” challenging our nation’s utilities.

I am sure that we all feel sorry for the utilities because they now have to rethink how they can find a new way to hold us hostage.

To help solve this financial problem, most of the large utilities will invest in the transmission of electricity, abandoning electrical generation. This will allow them to see higher returns because they no longer have to maintain the generating stations.

I would bet a dollar that solar panels, wind farms and waste-to-energy facilities played a role in the aforementioned reduction in profits, besides the economy and the movement of manufacturing to other countries.

But what are going to be the consequences of utilities investing in the transmission of electricity as opposed to generating it?

The utility industry is in an evolution period, it is slowly evolving from the generator to the transmitter (think the manufacturing of electricity to the landlord, renting us their transmission lines, in part, because of the growth and use of new cleaner technologies, such as solar, wind, and WTE). All of these technologies will grow in use and become a necessity, helping us lessen our carbon footprint, making it imminent to put them to use.

WTE is coming into its own. Because of diminishing landfill space and the problems with siting new landfills, it will become a necessity just as landfill mining will. We will eventually put a WTE facility on every landfill allowing the generation of power and the digging up of recyclables for reuse. This will lessen our carbon footprint and strengthen our reuse of recyclable resources.

Utilities are slow to change and only move when they are forced to because they don’t have to, they are our utilities. Also, they have proven to be the financial staple that pays better than average dividends. Now financial stability is threatened. Although the utilities’ challenge is to generate more income, they will be faced with a larger and more onerous definitive financial and environmental issue that they must figure out a way to solve by answering the following questions:

How does the utility clean-up all of their retired generating stations with their toxic, hazardous and regulated waste contamination?

Where does the utility find the money to clean-up these retired assets?

Is there enough landfill space to take the amount of hazardous, toxic and regulated wastes the retired assets will generate?

How do we head off the disaster that is going to happen if we don’t find and use technology to take these wastes permanently out of our environment?

I understand that the utilities have to scramble to keep ahead of the financial curve, but the looming disaster will do worse damage. If they don’t act now, they will be buried by their own toxins.

Tony Nocito's picture

Thank Tony for the Post!

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