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Watt's in the News? - Volume 33

BTU Crew Newsletter Volume #25: Energy & Economics

Energy issues are also economic issues, not just in the cost of our monthly utilities as consumers, but also through the costs incurred by business and industry as part of the cost of doing business; ultimately, these costs get passed down to consumers, too. Thus, having a basic understanding of economics can help students in understanding the big picture as it relates to meeting our energy needs. It was for this reason that I used the Six Guidelines for Economics as part of the foundation for my Environmental Science classes.  (attached)

Relevant in all states, these economic concepts and incentives play an even bigger part of the discussion in Hawaii where consumers experience the highest cost of electricity in the United States. To see the role of renewable and non-renewable sources and how the ever-changing nature of incentives can impact decision-making in this land of paradise and in your state, too, take a look at these articles: 

Hawaii Star: How Much Is Electricity In Hawaii? Prices, Rates And More

Grist: How changes to Hawaiʻi's home battery program could hinder its energy transition

Previously, we have shared the work of Barry Commoner and his explanation of the four Commoner’s Laws of Ecology as described in his book, The Closing Circle . Written fifty years ago, these concepts still apply to our energy-related conversations today. Here are four Commoner’s laws of ecology:

  1. Everything is connected to everything else.
  2. Everything must go somewhere.
  3. Everything is always changing. (He actually said, “Nature knows best.”)
  4. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Combined with the Six Guidelines for Economics above, these ten fundamentals provide a great foundation for energy-related discussions. When I had students read articles like this I would always ask which one(s) would best describe the situation in the article. (For example, the highlighted sections on incentives certainly apply to the battery storage issue described in the Hawaii article.) Lots of good opportunities for discussions with consideration from various perspectives.

Stay tuned as next week we will share more real-world examples and activities that will engage the future voters and decision-makers in your classrooms.

Have a great week!

Dan & Bill

Tate Honaker

Meet Dan WhislerTrane Educator in Residence

Tate Honaker

Meet Bill NelsonTrane Educator in Residence

Learn more about Trane's STEM Education Programs