NORTHPORT                          ENERGY
Why our focus on renewable energy?  As stated in the excellent 2016 report by the group Environment America titled We Have The Power, "America can address our largest environmental challenges by shifting to 100 percent renewable energy. Renewable energy makes us safer and healthier, protecting our communities from global warming and from hazardous air pollution. Renewable energy reduces the need for dangerous and destructive practices like shipping explosive fuels through our cities, fracking for gas near our water supplies, or razing our mountains to dig up dirty coal.

An economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy is within our reach. First, we can reduce the total amount of energy we use through improved efficiency, even as our economy continues to grow. Second, we can tap America’s virtually inexhaustible supplies of energy from the wind, the sun, the land and the oceans.

Our transition to a clean energy system has already begun. But, as the need to reduce the pollution that causes global warming grows more urgent every day, we need to step up the pace. To maximize the benefits of moving to 100 percent renewable energy, leaders at all levels must act to accelerate our progress. America’s energy policy should facilitate mass deployment of clean energy solutions, support research and development of new clean energy technologies, and keep much of our coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground."   

Just the facts please ...

Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer.  Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases over the last 150 years. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

The EPA tracks total U.S. emissions by publishing the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gases and Sinks. This annual report estimates the total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities across the United States.

The primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are:

Electricity production (31% of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions)
- Electricity production generates the largest share of greenhouse
gas emissions. Approximately 67% of our electricity comes from
burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.

Transportation (27% of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions)

- Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come
from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and
planes. Over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum
based, which includes gasoline and diesel.

Industry (21% of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse

gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil
fuels for energy as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain
chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw

Commercial and Residential (12% of 2013 greenhouse gas

emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and
homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use
of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.

Agriculture (9% of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions) - Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.

Land Use and Forestry (offset of 13% of 2013 greenhouse gas emissions) - Land areas can act as a sink (absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere) or a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands have absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit.

For further reading, the EPA has much more on this subject at: https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html 

The elctricity generated for Michigan households comes from several sources: Coal, Natural Gas, Petroleum, Nuclear and Renewables.  It is worthwhile to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of each of these energy sources from a climate perspective. The information below is culled from reliable sources. To read further on your own follow the links after each section and visit our "Links" page.
55% of Michigan's electricity still comes from coal-fired plants. The U.S. average is 39%. The cost of coal to Michigan utilities rose 96% between 2004 and 2012. Transportation costs for coal rose 46% over a similar period. This, together with the fact that Michigan is still so reliant on coal, explains why residents of Michigan paid 14.88 cents/kWh for electricity as opposed to their Midwest neighbors who paid 13.08 cents/kWh and the U.S. average of 13.01 cents/kWh. Additionally, in terms of carbon and other harmful emissions, coal is the dirtiest of fuels. Cost, together with its negative environmental impacts, has caused coal to be a vanishing source of energy as virtually all providers seek cleaner and more cost effective alternatives.  While U.S. energy needs continue to grow, there are virtually no new coal plants planned for construction anywhere in the nation. Read more about coal power in the U.S at:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_power_in_the_United_States 

The second major source of energy powering Michigan households is nuclear power.  Michigan currently has three operating nuclear power plants providing 30.70% of our annual energy needs. This is well above the national average of 18.7%.  While nuclear is a carbon free power source, opponents express great concern over the storage of radiologically active spent fuels and the possiblity of the release of radioactive materials into the environment. Recent incidents in Russia and Japan bear out these concerns and have caused the growth of nuclear power in the U.S. to be cautious and slow. Read more about nuclear power in the U.S at:
With 10,900 active wells, Michigan ranks 17th in the nation in the production of natural gas. Michigan pays less for natural gas than the national average, in part because our capacity to store natural gas allows utilities to purchase supplies in the summer when they are cheaper and balance demand throughout the winter heating season.  In 2014, Michigan households paid an average of $14.57/MCF of natual gas.  7.1% of Michigan's electricity comes from natural gas.

An inherent, and major concern, of reliance on natural gas is the loss of methane occurring with its production, processing, transportation and storage. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year time period.  A scientific consensus has emerged confirming that “fugitive methane” loss associated with natural gas development results in more greenhouse gas warming than from burning coal. Read more about natural gas at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries and locales. Renewables are clean, carbon-free sources of energy and thus emit zero CO2 into the atmosphere.
The two primary renewables to be discussed in terms of the near-term in Michigan are solar (energy from the sun) and wind.  Best of all, the cost of installed renewables is dropping dramatically. Read more about renewables at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy 
The cost of solar photovoltaic panels has dropped precipitously, with prices falling 80 percent in the last five years and 50 percent in the last two years. Modules are now below $1 per watt installed. Utility-scale solar PV grew by 68% in 2014. Over 99% of this total has been installed since 2008. Read more about PV systems at:

Wind power is firmly entrenched as a mainstream power source: between 2008 and 2014, wind power accounted for 31% of all new generation capacity added in the United States. As of 2014, there were more than 65,000 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale wind power deployed across 39 states—enough to generate electricity for more than 16 million households—with another 13,600 MW under construction as of the first quarter of 2015. Read more about wind power at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power

As of 2014 (the latest statistics available), renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels, accounted for only 4.6% of our national energy production. But as prices fall, efficiencies improve and regulatory barriers disappear, what might we see in the future?  The graph below suggests it will be a much greener and cleaner future. We at Northport Energy intend to do our part toward this end!

For more information about U.S energy, now and in the future, the U.S Energy Information Administration provides an Analysis and Projections page at:  http://www.eia.gov/analysis/ ​