EEI > Resources & Media > Newsroom > EEI President Tom Kuhn Recognizes Earth Day, Reflects On The Industry’s Continuing Transformation To A Cleaner And Modernized Generation Fleet And Electric Grid
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EEI President Tom Kuhn Recognizes Earth Day, Reflects On The Industry’s Continuing Transformation To A Cleaner And Modernized Generation Fleet And Electric Grid
​WASHINGTON (Sunday, April 22, 2012) - As Americans celebrate Earth Day and the achievements of the modern environmental movement that took root 42 years ago today, the nation’s electric companies are taking stock of their contributions to date and of the enormous gains still to come.

“We’ve been a major contributor to the environmental improvements set in motion by Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson,” Kuhn said. “And we’ve found over the course of these many years that we can best achieve these goals by working constructively with lawmakers and regulators to find the most achievable pathways to compliance. It’s better to bring ideas to the table than simply watch from the back row.”

In complying with federal, state and local laws, the power sector has cut emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) by nearly 70 percent, even as electricity demand grew 38 percent during this same period.

Environmental strides also are being achieved through utility energy efficiency programs, which in 2010 saved 87.8 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity—enough to meet the annual electricity needs of nearly 7.64 million homes or approximately 6 percent of all U.S. residential customers.

Yet some of the most innovative and substantial environmental gains lie ahead, through electrification of the transportation sector and modernization of the electricity grid.

“Electricity will be an important transportation fuel in the future,” Kuhn said. “Electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions and are easily refueled by plugging in to an increasingly clean electricity supply. And they run on the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gasoline.”

Electric companies also are modernizing the nation’s power grid and transforming it into a digital network that will deliver power with greater efficiency, which reduces the need to build new power plants. Together with new digital smart meters, the modern grid will allow customers to better understand their electricity usage and to manage their electric bills more effectively.

“Since its inception, Earth Day has been an important event that reminds each of us that our commitment to preserving Earth’s precious resources must remain a high priority,” Kuhn said. “Electricity has been an integral part of the solution every step of the way and holds tremendous promise for the future.”
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