I just published an article on my blog about how much the US spent on imported oil in 2012. In Massachusetts, the problem of spending on imported energy is much worse. We have NO oil, gas or coal resources within the state and therefore have to import almost all of the 1,397 trillion Btu we use each year at a whopping cost of $24.5 billion. That's 6.3% of Massachusetts' gross domestic product. Every dollar that we spend importing energy is one less dollar that is going into our local economies.
Now what can we do about it?
I see two approaches and we need to do both.
- Use Less Energy - Efficiency & Conservation
- Produce More Energy - Maximize Local Sources like wind, solar, biomass & geothermal
For energy efficiency we need to do even more to make our homes, businesses and cars more efficient. You can start now by signing up for the Go Green Medford program and get a no-cost home energy assessment through MassSave. Be sure to mention the "Go Green Medford" program when you sign up.
For producing more energy from local sources, we are going to have to make due with what we have and focus on renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Every drop of oil or gasoline you use came from outside Massachusetts. The same goes for every cubic foot of natural gas and most of the electricity used to light up our houses and run our TVs.
Fortunately, more and more homes and businesses are installing solar photovoltaics. We are also seeing a growing number of wind turbines in addition to our own Windy in Medford.
Biomass and Geothermal are frequently overlooked areas where Massachusetts can really make a shift off of oil and natural gas. I'm really excited by the improvements in bulk fed wood pellet boilers as a great high-efficiency and locally sourced alternative to heating oil. I also expect that we will see some serious breakthroughs in geothermal in the next decade.
The next time you fill up your car at the pump or pay your energy bills, ask yourself what can you do to save energy and help make the switch to local energy.