Renewable Energy

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Where does your electricity come from?

12/26/2008 4:41:00 PM

Tags: electricity, renewable energy, green power, electric grid, transmission, coal, nuclear, wind


Electric Wires 

I’d love to be able to say that my electricity comes from solar panels or a backyard wind turbine, but nope, I must admit, it comes from the grid. (My household does purchase green tags to offset our electricity use, but that’s another story.)

But here’s an interesting question: If your electricity comes from the grid, how can you find out what fuels it comes from? Different energy options have different costs and benefits. For example, is it possible that your utility gets some of its power from a wind farm? How about a nuclear power plant? How much of it comes from coal?

You can find out by using this nifty feature on the EPA web site. If you live in the United States, all you have to do is type in your ZIP code and identify your utility, and it gives you a couple of handy graphs and links that tell you which fuels the electricity comes from in your region, how that relates to pollution and how it compares to national averages.

When I typed in my ZIP Code, it showed that here in northeast Kansas our electricity comes predominantly from coal — which unfortunately is associated with a lot of greenhouse gas pollution. And you can see from the graph that our fuel mix does in fact produce more carbon dioxide pollution than the national average.

So if you’d like to find out where your electricity comes from, just try the link and find out. And if you haven’t already, now is a great time to learn more about green power options from your utility, or other renewable energy options for your home.

Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .

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1/9/2009 8:56:22 AM
The EPA data is from 2005.

Vernon Haltom_1
12/26/2008 11:54:16 PM
To see whether your utility uses coal from mountaintop removal, go to and enter your zip code.

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