Why Is My Current Electricity Toxic?
We do normal stuff like flip off the lights, turn on the TV, and charge our phones pretty much daily. Not a lot of thought goes into it. But those actions are worth considering, given that they all require electricity to work—and more often than not, that electricity used is toxic.
Yes, toxic electricity.
Not toxic as in hitting you at 3 a.m. with a “WYA” text. It’s a different kind of toxic. Let us explain.
The U.S. electrical grid relies on centralized power plants that use various energy resources to produce electricity, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy.
Some use renewable energy, but most of them don’t. Dependence on fossil fuels is still rampant in the U.S; per the EIA, about 60% of the country’s total electricity generation in 2020 was produced from fossil fuels.
Furthermore, electric power plants that burned fossil fuels, as well as some geothermal power plants, were the source of about 28% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020. 66% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide (the stuff that causes acid rain) comes directly from electricity generation. According to the American Lung Association, sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks and contributes to the formation of fine particles in the atmosphere, which are also detrimental to respiratory health.
So, yes. Electricity generated from fossil fuels can definitely be called toxic electricity.
And to make matters worse, just about every part of the electricity system affects the environment.
There are the emissions produced when the fuel is burned to create the electricity. Then, we have to consider the use of water resources to produce steam, provide cooling, and contribute to other necessary functions in a power plant. Power plants also discharge pollution into bodies of water, including thermal pollution (water that is hotter than the original temperature of the water body). They generate solid waste, some of which includes hazardous waste.
Then there’s the land use for fuel production, power generation, and transmission and distribution lines. And consider the physical footprint of the plants—building large power plants requires land clearing. Most power plants require access to roads, railroads, and pipelines for fuel delivery.
Electricity transmission lines and the distribution infrastructure also have an environmental impact. Most transmission lines are above ground on large towers, which disturbs native plant populations and wildlife.
These are all huge reasons why making sure your energy is clean is so important.
Thankfully, not all the electricity generated in the U.S. is toxic. Clean energy options exist, and they’re becoming more plentiful as the green energy movement gains foothold.
Interested in seeing whether your state offers clean energy programs? You can check it out here!
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