Friday, February 23, 2007

Higher energy prices inevitable

In some parts of Idaho, an inexhaustible supply of energy that's now going to waste could very well become a godsend as the state's growth demands more electrical power to fuel homes and industry.

It's wind. So much of it is so powerful that on stretches of U.S. Interstate Highway 84 the state has posted signs warning of stiff gusts that could affect drivers.

After some hemming and hawing while it studied the matter, Idaho Power has agreed to begin tapping into this alternate energy source. The state Public Utilities Commission has approved the company's agreement with several wind turbine operators for a modest supply of some 300 megawatts for its 24,000-square-mile service area.

Idaho Power isn't alone. The city of Pocatello also is on the verge of getting into the wind-production business after finding a spot in the Trail Creek Gap area suitable for towering propeller turbines.

Consumers, of course, should be prepared for bills to be higher when the wind power comes on line later this year.

So be it.

The entire energy scenario for Americans has become a critical part of the nation's security strategy. The less reliant the nation is on petroleum from politically shaky overseas sources, the less strain Americans place on domestic oil reserves, and the more industry and consumers use replaceable energy—wind, solar, ocean tidal systems and bio-fuels—the more secure the nation.

Americans tend to forget that today's family lifestyle is driven by electricity. Homes are crammed with appliances of convenience as well as necessity that are powered by electricity. Mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets rely on electricity for recharging.

There's a certain peace of mind in knowing that we can, if we show the will, harness all the wasted natural energy sources we now ignore and thus continue to enjoy this way of life without worrying whether overseas oil supplies will be interrupted.

But cleaner fuels will mean higher prices—and we must adapt to survive.

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