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Rethinking Renewable Energy

QuickPoint!

We are living in an age where growing numbers of individuals and groups are clamoring for nontraditional renewable energy resources. Organizations, such as Renewable Northwest Project, have been touting wind and solar energy for years, and the coming legislative session in 2007 promises to be a battleground for the adoption of a renewable energy standard. However, we should not advocate energy sources that are not sustainable on the open market.

Instead, Oregonians should listen to OSU Professor Emeritus John Ringle, who advocates increasing generation and consumption of nuclear energy. In his Oregonian column last week, Ringle mentioned a number of key facts that bolster nuclear energy’s desirability. Nuclear power plants have become exceptionally efficient at providing power, achieving a 90 percent capacity factor in the past six years in the United States, versus 35 percent for wind energy and less than 25 percent for solar. Safety has also improved, with no large civilian accidents in the United States in over 25 years. Nuclear power does not emit any greenhouse gases, and has become relatively cheaper due to rising traditional fuel costs.

While wind and solar power may be economical in the future, mandating them now will simply require continued government subsidies, which is far from a sustainable business model. Rather than follow misguided groups who argue for such policies, let’s make sure that we keep Oregon’s energy sources both environment and market-friendly.

Riazul Islam is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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