Myths and Facts About Electricity in the U.S. South

In December 2011, Marilyn Brown from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, along with co-authors from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University released a paper titled Myths and Facts About Electricity in the U.S. South.  In this publication, the authors identify six myths about clean electricity in the southern United States and in doing so identify “new starting points for energy policy development” by evaluating these myths in the context of future energy policy scenarios.

One myth that is examined that is also of significance to helping today’s learners more critically evaluate future energy options is myth#6, which states that “power resource decisions have little impact on water resources.” The paper cites that 54% of freshwater withdrawals in the South are for thermoelectric generation; thus, water conservation through energy planning is significant for this region.  The paper describes the disconnect that often exists between a state’s energy planning and water conservation policies citing that “energy impacts on water usage is often ignored.” While recognizing that knowledge of this connection may not alter decision-making associated with power generation, the authors cite that the connection should not be ignored in light of growing populations and shrinking water resources.   This is just the kind of connection I want today’s students to be able to make!

It would be interesting to ask your students to examine their own myths around energy consumption; I am willing to bet that most students operate under the assumption that their energy consumption does not impact local water resources, for instance.  I imagine their myths would be very different from the ones identified in this paper; however, this exercise could serve to start a conversation about the myths and underlying belief systems that might be operating as future energy generation options as well as energy efficiency and conservation strategies are considered in your city or town.


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