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E-M:/ Sierra Club Response to Blackouts: Protect Consumers, Increase Efficiency, Decentralize Energy Supply



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Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <rita.jack@sierraclub.org>
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For Immediate Release:
August 15, 2003

Contact:
David Willett, 202-675-6689

                     Sierra Club Response to Blackouts
    Protect Consumers, Increase Efficiency, Decentralize Energy Supply

Washington, DC:  The Sierra Club today expressed its sympathy and
concern
for those citizens affected by the blackouts in the eastern U.S. and
Canada.  Noting that the Bush Administration and some Senators are
already
pushing their outdated energy policy, the Sierra Club pointed instead to
workable solutions that will reduce the vulnerability of our current
energy
delivery system, increase the efficiency and security of our energy
supply,
and protect consumers in an environmentally responsible way.

"This blackout is a wake-up call that our existing system needs to be
updated.  There's a better way," said Debbie Boger, Sierra Club's
Washington Representative for Global Warming and Energy.  "The best way
to
prevent energy bottlenecks and grid overload is to  increase the
efficiency
of our buildings, homes, factories and appliances, in addition to our
transmission lines. Building more power plants won't help because we're
looking at transmission line bottlenecks. Instead, we need to
decentralize
America's power sources, use more renewable energy like wind and solar
power, and ensure power companies aren't allowed to deregulate and
manipulate markets. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration's energy
plan,
developed with the energy industry, will take us backwards on all these
counts."

Once power is restored to all of the affected areas, Americans can start
looking at the steps to address America's overall electricity problems:

Increase Efficiency: There is some evidence that the outage was due to
the
system being overloaded, and transmission lines getting bottlenecked.
This
is not surprising given the heat wave in the Northeast, with many air
conditioners running. We can help protect ourselves against these types
of
bottlenecks in the future by making sure we have the most energy
efficient
buildings, air conditioners, factories and appliances - this will ease
the
demand and prevent more bottlenecks.   Last year the Bush Administration
weakened a provision to make air conditioners 30 percent more efficient.
Enacting such provisions, and providing tax incentives for buildings to
increase their efficiency would go a long way to reducing strain on the
grid.

Decentralize Power: Another factor in the blackout appears to have been
transmission failures in getting electricity to move over long
distances.
It is important, both for security and reliability's sake, to make sure
that we have reliable local sources of power, such as solar and wind.
These types of decentralized, homegrown sources can increase the
reliability of the overall grid and lessen the chances that a problem in
one area of the country will affect other areas.

Improve Power Lines: The Sierra Club supports improving the efficiency
of
transmission lines and responsibly siting these lines after
Environmental
Impact Statements have been completed.  New technology allows
transmission
lines to carry 1.5 to 3 times as much power as conventional transmission
lines. In addition, they significantly reduce line losses.

Protect Consumers: The Bush Administration and some members of Congress
continue to push an energy policy that would actually make these types
of
situations worse.  The Bush Administration's plan would severely weaken
consumer protections in the electricity sector, further exposing
consumers
to Enron-type manipulation. This is especially troubling given the role
that Enron played in manipulating the California electricity markets.
While
there is no evidence that manipulation played a role in yesterday's
Northeast blackout, we certainly should not be weakening consumer
protections in the electricity sector and opening the door to further
abuses and manipulation.


###


David Willett
Associate Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698
david.willett@sierraclub.org





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