What would America be like without the 13.4% of electricity provided by renewable energy power plants--wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal?
The air and water would be dirtier, as nearly all alternatives to renewables have more environmental impacts.
But our health and environment are not the only things that would suffer without the electricity coming from renewables.
Our power costs would skyrocket everywhere and our lights would flicker in some places without the 13.4% of electricity coming from renewables in the first quarter of 2011.
Indeed the combination of big increases in renewable electricity production and lower natural gas prices have prevented a broad energy shock from crippling our economy as oil prices have zoomed up from $33 in December 2008 to over $100 in 2011. Without electricity from renewable energy plants, electricity consumers would feel rate shocks in many parts of America, including in the PJM power pool, America's largest wholesale electricity market.
At current rates of growth, renewable electricity could be providing America more power than nuclear plants within the next 10 years. Currently nuclear plants generate about 20% of the nation's power.
In short, renewable electricity is right now vital to keeping America powered and our lights on and keeping our electricity bills affordable. Renewable energy companies and their production are important parts of our nation's economy.