The New York Times recently posted story about the power-crisis facing the city of Juneau, Alaska. On April 16th, an avalanche cut them off from a local hydroelectric dam that supplied 80 percent of the city’s electricity. Back-up power, from diesel generators, is tiding them over until power can be restored in late June.
Using these diesel generators would have been all well and good in the days of cheap fuel, but as we all know, diesel fuel these days costs well up over $4/gallon in the contiguous 48, and is likely much pricier up in Alaska. Electricity bills for residents and businesses in the city have skyrocketed—literally overnight—by 400 percent.
Just as Americans on the mainland are avoiding high transportation fuel costs by bicycling to work, buying smaller cars, and carpooling, the Alaskans are avoiding high electricity fuel costs in other ways: reading in the evenings, walking to work, going to bed earlier, and turning off the walls of TVs at the local electronics store. Using these measures, Juneau has managed to cut its collective energy bill by a staggering 30 percent in just a few weeks.
Juneau’s conservationist actions, even though triggered by financial necessity, should serve as an inspiration to the rest of us. Do we need 33 degree water at all times? How hot does our dishwasher really need to be? How many beeping/blinking/buzzing gadgets can we stand to carry? Can we forego some of this luxury in exchange for lower energy bills and greater peace of mind? It sounds like a good deal to me. So let’s get to it!