The Next Fight For Energy Independence: Our Pocketbooks

The Next Fight For Energy Independence: Our Pocketbooks

“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme”

At the dawn of the 20th century the British Empire confronted a rising Imperial Germany. A young Winston Churchill took the controversial step of switching the Royal Navy’s fuel from coal to oil. Traditionalists worried that a move away from Britain’s abundant domestic coal supply would leave the Navy vulnerable. Churchill was convinced the advantages of a switch to this fuel—easier to transport, requiring less labor and maintenance, and which burned cleaner minimizing detection at sea—would overcome the fears of change. Churchill’s leadership kept the Royal Navy a step ahead of its rivals, helping Britain and its allies prevail in World War I. A century later, we are at a similar juncture, with new energy technologies and new fuel sources allowing us to chart a different course…  if we have the vision and courage to pursue it. 

Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965), by James Guthrie (1859–1930) Scottish National Portrait Gallery

A New Economic Freedom

America’s next frontier is national energy independence and personal energy security. Too often, American families and businesses are prisoners to foreign dictators using energy prices as a weapon. Revolutions in electricity generation and electric transportation technologies have proliferated, and in most cases are now equivalent or less expensive than fossil fuels. This national transition and increased adoption of personal energy technologies won’t happen overnight. But with American production of oil and gas surging, adding domestic solar, wind, and battery technology will make America an energy superpower, and increase economic competitiveness. This revolution provides two key benefits: cheaper, predictable costs for energy buyers and reliable, always on power to keep Americans safe. 

America is defined by innovation, and we can seize this moment to reassert our economic independence. Our economy is transitioning to solar, wind, and geothermal energy. How do we take full advantage? We electrify everything we can. It’s cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable.  We can collect sunshine, wind, and heat from the earth and leave behind the expense and uncertainty of exploration, drilling, and transportation of dangerous fuels. Investing in technology that captures free and limitless “fuels” reduces the risk of surprise price spikes and supply shortages.

As we supply our economy with more cheap electricity, we can begin to reduce the flow of money to foreign dictatorships. Countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia all use oil profits to starve their citizens, export terror and invade their neighbors. Like it or not, America’s oil addiction feeds their power and corruption. Breaking our addiction to oil and gas will reduce dictators’ leverage over the free world and build a path to freedom for their repressed citizens.

More than 70% of Florida's electricity comes from methane-powered gas plants.

Revolutionary Personal Energy Security

Transforming our energy economy will promote political freedom abroad, and Americans can now invest in always-on power to keep critical systems online—no matter what life brings. Foreign terrorists and governments don’t stand a chance against America’s armed forces, but can attack vulnerable infrastructure like the electricity grid. With homegrown threats, cyberterror, maintenance backlogs, and natural disasters disrupting electricity supplies, we can’t count on big utilities to keep electricity flowing when we need it the most.

Home solar and rechargeable batteries provide guaranteed backup power—even when the grid is down. Unlike diesel generators, solar and battery combinations automatically recharge during the day, eliminating concerns about purchasing, storing, and re-supplying days or weeks of costly fuel during a grid outage or post-disaster scenario. That’s a secure electricity supply you can depend on to keep your lights on without having to hunt and gather more fuel or relocate every time a storm passes through. 

Fort Myers Beach, FL, USA--11/04/2022--Crews work to reconnect power, telephone and cable on Fort Myers Beach following Hurricane Ian. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

A “Gas Station” At Every Electric Outlet

Like Churchill’s Navy, we can switch our transportation fuels to become more self-sufficient and save even more. Electric vehicles (EVs) are much more efficient than gas or diesel engines, and the cost per mile of driving electric is about 1/3 of filling up with gasoline. When you use your home’s solar to fill up, the savings add up quickly. You also never need to find a gas station, you can “fill up” from any plug, anywhere.

EVs aren’t just for rich folks or environmentalists anymore, with manufacturers rolling out new models for every need and taste, and automakers, states, and countries planning to phase out gas powered cars, the future is arriving quickly. Even diehard gearheads have enjoyed the performance of a linear torque curve and the versatility of electric pick-ups and SUVs. With generous federal tax incentives available for solar,  batteries and electric vehicles, investing in all electric capabilities is an attractive alternative to handing thousands of extra dollars to the IRS. The convenience, predictability, and lifetime cost savings make an electric vehicle a smart investment, and the way of the future. 

The cost per mile of driving an electric vehicle is about 1/3 of driving a gasoline-powered car. - Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for electricity rates and U.S. Energy Information Administration for gas prices

The Hinge of Fate

When Winston Churchill wrote his magisterial 6-volume series about how Britain and its allies ultimately prevailed over Nazi Germany and the Axis powers during World War II, he titled his fourth volume The Hinge of Fate. Appearing in 1950, the fourth volume details the period during the war, when after years of crushing, repeated defeats, the Allies finally begin to turn the tide, and set the table for the unconditional surrender of their enemies just a few years later. That phrase, the hinge of fate, could easily describe the period we are living in right now—with reference to our own epic struggle for energy independence.   

The energy transition is happening, the only questions are how fast and who benefits. Americans can seize this opportunity to use more domestic energy we control, as individuals and as a nation, to replace imported fuels that fund regimes opposed to American values. We can also begin to break free from grid dependence that leaves us powerless in the wake of natural disasters or man-made disruptions. As more Americans switch to home solar for electric generation, our families gain safety, savings, and security. If you support economic independence, then getting more reliable domestic energy is a giant step in that direction. America has always led the world in innovations that increase freedom, and expanding our personal freedom will unleash liberty at home and around the world.  

The Battle of Midway (1942) is one of the turning point battles of World War II cited in Churchill's "Hinge of Fate" (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

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