FROM THE EDITORS – Where Did This Reduced Energy Use Come From



Where Did This Reduced Energy Use Come From*


*Poisonous vs Non-Poisonous Energy: a bit of history, a bit of hope!*


Some of the divisions I’m seeing in the environmental movement these

days have motivated me to try to unify people through this history.


I’ve been in the safe/sane/sustainable energy movement for 35 years

and remember the early days well.


When the anti-nuclear movement started growing in 1977 (mushrooming,

pardon the pun, in 1979, when the Three Mile Island accident

happened), we were quickly criticized as being negative. They would

say: “That’s what you’re against, what are you for?” And say it

rather smugly, whether those saying this were professionals from Con

Ed, LilCo or Met Ed or even our neighbors who believed the nuclear

utilities’ lies about how necessary nuclear power was. We’d answer,

just as smugly, that we were for, “Solar, wind, small hydro.” And the

utilities became strongly anti-solar & wind energy, rather than add

those energy sources into the mix they already had. If that mutual

hostility had been different, the solar & wind industry as we know it

today would not exist, but would be run by utilities.



As time went on, a lot of the kids and young men and women I went to

meetings and rallies with went into the energy industry, putting up

solar panels and making buildings that used less energy. At first,

these energy alternatives were a negligible percentage of the total

overall energy generating sources and had little effect on energy

usage reductions. But they kept growing and getting better. The

Illinois “lo cal house” of the ’70s evolved into the “passive house

techniques” of today. And because of this, the energy use per New

York City resident went steadily down for years, thanks in part (I

think large part) to the men and women of the anti-nuclear movement

and their continuing inspiration. Thousands and thousands of dollars

were being taken from the utilities and put into the rest of the

economy. Thousands of tons of carbon never got put into the

atmosphere. And it’s still going on.


There are probably now about 200 energy-efficient buildings in NYC.

People have been, and still are, retrofitting their homes to save

energy. There are at least 3,400 solar installations in NYC. On top of

that, people have been buying energy star appliances and putting in

energy-efficient lighting and are still continuing to do so. To go

along with that, there are over 100 certified solar installers in NYC

& Westchester. The outcome of all of this is that Con Ed’s energy

contract with Entergy Corporation, the owner of the Indian Point

Nuclear Power Plant, is now for only 500 megawatts of energy. Even

during heat waves, they don’t buy more.


During one such heat wave, Roger Witherspoon of the Society of

Environmental Journalists, after hearing one of Entergy’s claims that

they provide 25% of NYC-Westchester’s energy needs, called Con Edison

to check on that figure. Paraphrasing Roger and Con Edison, they

basically said that: ‘They don’t need more’. So if Indian Point were

ever to permanently shut down, nothing more would need to be built.

That is, not one more power plant nor any more electrical lines.


Looking back now at all of the temporary shutdowns that have occurred

at Indian Point up to the present (five in a four-month period in

2015), none of them have ever affected the grid reliability of NYC.

Indian Point’s replacement has already happened and is continuing. A

further example of that decreased energy need can be noted by Con Ed’s

upgrading some of their transmission efficiency to save their need for

more energy. They have even delayed other planned upgrades because the

energy savings are not “needed” (their definition of need, not mine).


To me, fossil fuel activism and anti-nuclear activism are the same

thing – the choice is between poisonous and non-poisonous energy.

Safe/sane/sustainable energy is the choice, and that absolutely

includes “negawatts,” that is, using less energy in the first place,

which increases excess energy capacity every step of the way. As

excess electricity capacity increases, less fossil fuel is burnt and

there are fewer excuses to keep the Indian Point nuclear plant open or

build another pipeline or other infrastructure parts (though they’ll

try to build those pipelines anyway, not for domestic energy

production, but for export).


The end result of all this is that NYC and Westchester County do not

need the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. We can get all the energy

we need through energy efficiency in the various ways that we have

discovered and used over the last few decades. And we can continue to

get our energy needs from the present alternative methods of Solar,

Wind and other Renewable sources.


Can we get to 100% renewable energy? Of course we can. Each of us

needs to help speed up the process that is already happening.


Thank you for all you do,



> Ken Gale


Eco-Logic, WBAI 99.5FM, NYC, 8PM Tuesdays <>




When the air or water are clean, thank an

environmentalist. If not, become one. ‘Nuff Said!




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