The National Energy Act of 1978 and cogeneration

Donovan, Shawn M.
Alexandra Dawson
Department of Environmental Studies
1982
Residents of six New England states, more so than other regions of the US, have been stunned by the rapid energy price increases of the last decade. The economic impact of our dependence on imported fuels is felt at every level of the regional economy, by individual citizens, by businesses and industry, and by local governments and institutions. The New England Energy Congress’ Final Report (1979) summarized this wide discrepancy between the energy needs and resources of New England and the nation as a whole. 80% of the region’s total energy comes from oil (compared to the national average of 41%) 79% of the oil consumed in the region is imported (compared to the national average of 39%) The price of industrial #6 oil has climbed from $2.00 per barrel in 1969 to over $30 a barrel in 1981. Energy costs are 25% higher in New England than the national average. The situation is clearly untenable. Response to the energy crisis, while slow at first, has begun to accumulate momentum. IT has chiefly taken three paths. The first path has been in the area of conservation—using less energy or using it more efficiently. Or, stated another way, the management and control of energy demand. Adoption of fairly simple engineering techniques, often little more than good housekeeping, have saved and will continue to save substantial amounts of money and energy. The second path is fuel conversion. In this, the residential sector led the way in converting to wood fuel and decreasing substantially its use of #2 oil. Other sectors of the economy – the commercial, institutional, and industrial – have responded more slowly. Greater fuel conversion activity in these sectors is now being seen. The last pathway is the adoption of advanced technologies which contain elements of the other two. In this, energy is used more efficiently in systems often powered by alternate fuels, such as biomass, solar, wind hydro, etc. All three paths of response contain the nucleus of a solution to the energy crisis facing New England and the country. This paper has the dual purpose of examining two issues: recent legislation enacted at the federal level to respond comprehensively to the energy situation and one technology which incorporates elements of all three paths of response which the situation demands: conservation, fuel conversion,

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