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Snow Moon over North Hill by Cindy Schreiner

This weeks poll: Are renewable energy sources the solution to rising energy costs ?


Can wind and solar fill the supply and demand gap?

By Andrew Harris

The price of gasoline, diesel, and home heating fuel costs have been sucking the life out of the American household and national economy. The record inflation is largely correlated to the price of fuel.

This isn’t a solely American problem, in fact the US has been perhaps the least impacted of industrialized nations of the world, much less so than Europe. Prices at the pump in London have been well above our domestic prices. The British and Germans are scrambling as prices for keeping homes heated are forecasted to be crushing in 2023, well beyond the means of the average household. The war in Ukraine has played a key role in exasperating the cost of energy. European governments will be forced to dramatically increase and expand subsidies to avoid infrastructure and humanitarian crisises.

The US maybe somewhat better positioned for this winter, but the future is very uncertain. Another shock to the market like the Ukraine war, further reduction in production by OPEC, a natural disaster, or a global recession could bring even higher prices. It won’t take much to push the average US household into a more acute energy crisis, especially in Allegany County. Our below average per capita income population is paying above average fuel costs already.

Wind and solar energy are improving and evolving rapidly, but no realistic plan for the northern United States exists. It seems reasonable for San Diego or Miami. The energy required to keep a city like Buffalo, or Olean warm requires massive amounts of fossil fuel. The aging homes of Allegany County require gas-fired furnaces to keep the water pipes from bursting. Entire city “undergrounds,” where water, sewer, gas, and electric utilities exist out of public view; they rely on fossil fuel heat to avoid disaster in harsh winters. Electric heat just can’t keep Syracuse or Hamburg warm when the temperature drops below freezing.

Winter is coming.

What do you think?

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