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  • Writer's pictureRandy Dykhuis

POWER TALK: Electrical Energy Basics

The Climate Action Plan Team of the League of Women Voters has written a very good, very accessible guide to electricity generation, distribution, utilities, regulation, and emissions.

Entitled Power Talk, it is designed for climate emergency community activists. Like many public policy issues, there are semi-technical terms that are particularly useful to know and understand in order to assess proposals and to hold officials accountable. Important decisions are being made today in communities around the country about how to power our future. Electricity is a critical aspect of our lives, nearly as ubiquitous as the air we breathe, and many have taken it for granted. How is electricity produced, who produces it, and how does it get to our homes and businesses? In years past, consumers could be forgiven for not knowing the answers. Today we understand that electricity production causes greenhouse gasses and has a substantial impact on the climate. Not all forms of electricity are equal.

This Power Talk is divided into three sections. Sections 1-3 explain the process of generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity to homes and businesses, including new technologies and terminology.

Energy storage, as explained in Section 4, is becoming a top priority to enhance the reliability and effective utilization of renewable energy. Section 5 clarifies the accountability of public and private entities that regulate and manage the electricity grid. Section 6 serves as a guide to leadership in the transition to clean energy.

Power Talk introduces the basic concepts and vocabulary used in discussions about energy so we can each be informed and engaged in the decision-making process about our energy future. The ability to “power talk” is essential to energy democracy.

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