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A Brief History Of Energy

Soon after I changed jobs from newspaper reporter to writer for the magazine of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C., the editor sent me to New Hampshire for a story on an anti-nuclear power group called the Clamshell Alliance.

The assignment was no big deal for a journalist used to interviewing people on all sides of an issue. But NRECA at the time held strongly pro-nuclear policy positions. Staff members viewed me with the wary sympathy troops might have for a new recruit asked to parachute behind enemy lines.

I had a blast.

The state buzzed with Ronald Reagan�s campaign for the 1980 presidential primary. In a Portsmouth restaurant, I watched the United States Olympic hockey team�s miracle defeat of the Soviet Union.

Oh yes, the story.

I learned the Clamshell Alliance was a coalition of New England environmentalists that banded together to close the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. It had no leader, but I finally tracked down Guy Chichester, a sort of guru of the nuclear opposition.

He looked like a guru, large and sturdily built, long black hair, thick beard. I interviewed him in his kitchen where he described an energy future in which people would hop on a stationary bicycle generator for electricity to power their stereo.

Guy and his group raised awareness of nuclear power issues. But what sent nuclear plant construction into hibernation were cost overruns and accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Chernobyl in Russia, shaking the confidence of the public, politicians, and Wall Street bankers.

We live in a different energy world today. The Future of Electricity column describes how new technology and new demands for power could revive nuclear power plant construction.

And the outside cover of this month’s magazine gives you a way to be part of shaping that new energy world. Gas prices, global warming debates, and electricity supplies are center stage in Washington, D.C. Tear the cards off the cover and mail them in to make sure your elected officials know that you expect them to have a plan that will keep your electricity reliable and affordable.

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