Mudville Gazette

Just an Activist Blog

Not only is wind energy a great source of clean and renewable energy, it is also a means to protect consumers in Texas from terrible energy price surges. This was one of the benefits highlighted when the state’s wind generation has kept the prices of electricity down in the state. This was despite scorching heat waves that has ravaged a lot of states and regions in the country.

According to Bloomberg, spot prices, which is the cost of any service or goods in a particular time, has jumped to amazing rates. The skyrocketing prices of energy were evident in places and regions that surround Texas; the western hub has increased to $44.27 per megawatt –hour to an average of $84.83. And the figures on the eastern bug, prices are up $26.64 which is a 50% increase to $79.86 per megawatt –hour.

You would not believe what prices are in Texas. Spot prices for power fell 48 cents to hit $46.09 per megawatt-hour. This amazing rate was despite terrible heat up to 96 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington, DC.

Wind power provides about 9.9% of total electricity used in the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc.) region. And even when wind energy is also competitive as natural gas and coal, a study revealed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has showed that states that had the most capacities to provide wind energy has seen a slight drop of electricity prices from 2008 to last year. Compared to other states that do not use wind energy, the price of electricity even increased by 8%.

And aside from helping consumers save on their electricity costs, wind power is a cushion that protects consumers from the varying prices in electricity. Oftentimes, high temperatures increase electricity remands; when the temperature is hot, consumers use more energy to cool their homes while cold temperatures also increase the demand for power as consumers need to heat their homes. Texas has the biggest wind capacity compared to other states and this creates a cushion to protect its residents from terrible changing rates in electricity. ERCOT has even dealt with fewer blackouts thanks to Texas’ efficient wind generation.

Michael Goggin, analyst from AWEA has mentioned: “Wind energy reduces electricity prices and that is good for consumers.” He added: “Wind energy has no fuel costs, allowing it to replace more expensive and polluting sources of energy.”

Summit on Working Families was held at the White House as a part of Democrat’s agenda to create an economy that will work specially for working families. As a part of this agenda, here are the policies that will help the government create a family-friendly economy:

  1. Create livable wages – the first step to creating such an economy is to revamp current minimum wages. Minimum wage is simply not just wages given to teens in summer jobs but rather there are also millions of American families who also rely on minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, these families’ wages will also go up. It is also a fact that most minimum wage earners are women and mothers working as head of the family.
  2. There should be equal pay – most women these days make it easier to work outside their homes and it is estimated that four out of 10 US households in US with children under 18 are under the care of a mother that is the breadwinner of the family. At present, mother and wives that are breadwinners still bring home less compared to their male counterparts. An important act called the Paycheck Fairness Act secure equal pay for working women as well as their families by making amendments of the original Equal Pay Act. This ensures that women will be able to find out whether they are being discriminated by their employers. Employers that are caught violating this act suffer severe penalties.
  3. Improved child care – it is estimated that most US families need improved child care; about 64% of families have two working parents and currently about 84% of single parents work. According to a figure released by the Department of Agriculture, it will cost around $241,080 to raise a child born in the year 2012 and this figure does not include the cost of sending the child to college. There should be better funding for programs to help middle income families afford child care like Head Start.
  4. Revamps on compensations – at present, there are no laws that allow workers to get paid sick leaves. It has been estimated by the Center for American Progress that about 38% of US workers do not have access to paid sick leaves. According to a test using a public testing group by NSF International, about 25% of workers even report for work sick or leaving a sick child behind simply because their bosses required them to do so. Coming to work even when you are sick greatly increases the chances of spreading illness and this costs employers about $160 billion annually according to the Center for American Progress.
  5. Family leaves – just like paid sick leaves, there is no such thing as a paid family leave. Fathers in particular are not provided with paid paternity leaves. With unpaid leaves, families are forced to choose whether family or work is more important.       New laws are being considered to provide at least 12 weeks of leave at 66% of their salaries through an employee and employer payroll fund.

There will be a series of actions and agreements that will be released soon regarding the advancement of solar power and energy by none other than President Obama as Think Progress has reported. This is a part of his pledge to handle climate change without a gridlocked Congress. In his statement, a massive initiative with an increase of 850 megawatt in solar power will be deployed. This amount is estimated to power about 130,000 homes. This amazing amount of energy will also lead to more than $2 billion in energy efficiency investments in federal buildings and $26 billion in savings on electricity bills of private businesses and of course a massive decrease in pollution of about 380 metric tons in carbon pollution. Experts say that if this idea pushes through, this will be like removing 80 million cars off the road for an equivalent of a year.

This proposal to be led by the president will have several key features. First, it seeks about 300 businesses to commit to the use of solar power. On the day of the President’s announcement, he will be at Walmart in Mountain View, CA; Walmart has agreed to increase its onsite solar energy use by 2020. Other companies that will follow suit are Yahoo, Google, Home Depot, Ikea and Goldman Sachs. Another important part of his proposal is the expansion of the Federal Housing Administration of its Green Preservation Plus program which is about affordable housing with energy efficiency systems. The agency will offer mortgage loans with a condition that about 5 percent of it will be utilized for energy and water consumption reduction on the investment property.

The proposal will also highlight college training programs that will focus on solar energy. The Sola Instructor Training Network of the Department of Energy will be available as community college programs. This is to help prepare about 50,000 people that are expected to join the solar workforce by 2020.

There will also be programs called High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator that will provide high-efficiency lighting in many cities. Another important point of the proposal is the use of new energy conservation regulations for appliances to help guide consumers in saving electrical energy. Finally, there will also be announcements for a $2 billion investment for energy efficiency upgrades for federal buildings to save energy, increase energy independence and the creation of more jobs that focus on the construction industry.