OUR ENERGY: REGAINING CONTROL by Marc H. & Robert H. Williams Ross

OUR ENERGY: REGAINING CONTROL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fresh, far-seeing discussion of our energy options--and their economic viability--by two leading analysts: Michigan physicist Ross is affiliated with the Energy Productivity Center at Mellon Institute, Princeton physicist Williams is the energy specialist of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. By the year 2010, as they see it, we face two alternatives. In the ""Business-as-Usual projection,"" we rely on capital-intensive, centralized production of synthetic fossil fuels such as coal gas--at the cost, they demonstrate, of socioeconomic dislocations and adverse environmental effects. The preferred alternative, the ""Fuel Conservation scenario,"" breaks new ground. Ross and Williams propose conservation, decentralized energy production, less reliance on fossil fuels, and more government support for basic research. We can, they say, increase productivity and employment while reducing the absolute amount of energy consumed. Their specific proposals: cogeneration of industrial energy (producing electricity and steam in one plant); tighter energy use in housing; solar ""mini-utilities"" in residential communities; more efficient cars. Especially good is the discussion of twin ideas to make conservationists of the utilities companies. The utilities should run cogeneration plants; excess electricity could be fed into the power grid at a cost below that from new power plants. The utilities should also retrofit customers' dwellings with energy-saving features; the increased efficiency could be counted in the utilities' rate bases. Turning to the political process, the authors suggest decontrolling energy prices, along with adopting efficiency regulations (50 mpg cards, house-heating standards) and a general fuel tax. The most complete case to date for the economic soundness of conservation in every energy area, and consequently the most important book on energy since Energy Futures. Policy-makers, in particular, should take note.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1980
Publisher: McGraw-Hill