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Generating energy ideas

February 26, 2009

Re " 'Green' energy needs a big leap," Feb. 23

The scientific breakthroughs needed to make renewable energy cheaper will come when there is sufficient motivation to find them. Coordinating federal efforts with the private sector is a start, but the industry will make the big leap only when dirty energy is more expensive than clean energy.

Coal is cheap only because the public absorbs the external costs of its production in the form of global warming, acid rain and lung disease. Fix that flaw in the market system and make energy companies pay the full cost of production, and companies that produce the cleanest energy using the least resources will make the most money -- as it should be.

All we need is the political will to ignore industry lobbyists and do what should have been done decades ago.

Kathy Harty

Arcadia

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I applaud Energy Secretary Steven Chu's interest in renewable energy. A big leap in the science certainly would increase the likelihood of success of large renewable-energy projects, but the administration and Congress should not forget the policy leaps that we can take right now to quickly implement the technologies we already have.

Carbon-emissions taxes offer a way to internalize the true costs of fossil fuel use, giving us a chance to move on to renewable sources while keeping money and resources within our borders. Taxpayers will have to pay for our decision to use fossil fuels one way or another -- why not make a clean switch?

Grant Galland

San Diego

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It is true that we must balance and prioritize spending on energy technologies, investing most in what has the greatest potential benefit and likelihood of success.

The only large-scale, non-carbon technology that can expand rapidly enough to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is nuclear power. Nuclear already supplies about 20% of U.S. electricity. In 2007, President Bush called on American electrical utilities to consider investing in about 30 new nuclear power plants by 2010.

Urgency demands that resources be concentrated on technologies that can make a difference in a reasonable period of time. At the moment, that technology seems to be nuclear power.

James E. Owens

La Canada Flintridge

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