Energy Production

Hydropower generation is the energy source that is likely to be most directly affected by climate change because it is sensitive to the amount, timing and geographical pattern of precipitation and temperature. Furthermore, hydropower needs may increasingly conflict with other priorities, such as salmon restoration goals in the Pacific Northwest (IPCC, 2007). However, changes in precipitation are difficult to project at the regional scale, which means that climate change will affect hydropower either positively and negatively, depending on the region.

Infrastructure for energy production, transmission and distribution could be affected by climate change. For example, if a warmer climate is characterized by more extreme weather events such as windstorms, ice storms, floods, tornadoes and hail, the transmission systems of electric utilities may experience a higher rate of failure, with attendant costs (IPCC, 2007). Power plant operations can be affected by extreme heat waves. For example, intake water that is normally used to cool power plants become warm enough during extreme heat events that it compromises power plant operations.

Finally, some renewable sources of energy could be affected by climate change, although these changes are very difficult to predict. If climate change leads to increased cloudiness, solar energy production could be reduced. Wind energy production would be reduced if wind speeds increase above or fall below the acceptable operating range of the technology. Changes in growing conditions could affect biomass production, a transportation and power plant fuel source that is starting to receive more attention (IPCC, 2007).

Green Power

Green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Customers often buy green power for avoided environmental impacts and its greenhouse gas reduction benefits.

Renewable Energy

This includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal). Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment. For example, large hydroelectric resources can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use.

“Green power doesn’t change the way you get your energy, but the way power is made.”

The benefits of generating electricity using clean renewable resources are broad, ranging from environmental to economic. By choosing clean electricity you can do something positive for the environment today that also creates benefits for the generations of tomorrow.

Environmental Benefits

  • No emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter into the air, water or soil. Commonly cited effects of these harmful pollutants include climate change, mercury poisoning, acid rain and smog
  • Doesn’t require fossil-fuel extraction that seriously damages the land
  • Made from unlimited renewable sources that will never run out, unlike limited and polluting fossil fuel sources
  • Helps preserve and protect the environment for future generations

Economic Benefits

  • Creates employment opportunities in the green job sector in the U.S.; between 1998 and 2007, clean energy economy jobs — a mix of white-and blue-collar positions — grew by 9.1 percent, while total jobs grew by only 3.7 percent.
  • Helps secure America’s energy future by investing in domestic sources of energy