To meet consumer demand for electricity, utilities rely on four fuels: coal, natural gas, nuclear, or renewable resources. For practical reasons, the exact mix of fuels used varies from region to region and from state to state. For decades, coal has been producing more than 90 percent of the electricity in Kentucky. But in Oregon, less than 10 percent of that state’s electricity comes from coal.
Every form of energy production has plusses and minuses that range from operating costs to environmental impacts.
So which of these four fuels really is the best?
It turns out that the greenest answer is “none of the above.”
Among electric utilities, energy conservation is known as the “fifth fuel.” When consumers don’t waste power and do take the time to use electricity wisely, that creates the greenest watt of all—the one that did not need to be generated. That energy efficiency is important for two reasons. First, when consumers are careful with their use of electricity, the other four fuels do not need to be used as much. Second, when consumers use energy wisely, that may delay or put off altogether the need to build new power plants.
Your electric cooperative offers a wide variety of energy-efficiency programs to help you conserve and make the best use of your electricity.