We should be doing everything possible to develop geothermal energy technologies. This is a largely untapped area of tremendous alternative energy potential, as it simply taps the energy being naturally produced by the Earth herself. Vast amounts of power are present below the surface crust on which we move and have our being. All we need do is tap into it and harness it.

At the Earths' core, the temperature is 60 times greater than that of water being boiled. The tremendous heat creates pressures that exert themselves only a couple of miles below us, and these pressures contain huge amounts of energy. Superheated fluids in the form of magma, which we see the power and energy of whenever there is a volcanic eruption, await our tapping. These fluids also trickle to the surface as steam and emerge from vents. We can create our own vents, and we can create out own containment chambers for the magma and convert all of this energy into electricity to light and heat our homes. In the creation of a geothermal power plant, a well would be dug where there is a good source of magma or heated fluid. Piping would be fitted down into the source, and the fluids forced to the surface to produce the needed steam. The steam would turn a turbine engine, which would generate the electricity.

There are criticisms of geothermal energy tapping which prevent its being implemented on the large scale which it should be. Critics say that study and research to find a resourceful area is too costly and takes up too much time. Then there is more great expense needed to build a geothermal power plant, and there is no promise of the plant turning a profit. Some geothermal sites, once tapped, might be found to not produce a large enough amount of steam for the power plant to be viable or reliable. And we hear from the environmentalists who worry that bringing up magma can bring up potentially harmful materials along with it.

However, the great benefits of geothermal energy would subsume these criticisms if only we would explore it more. The fact that geothermal energy is merely the energy of the Earth herself means it does not produce any pollutants. Geothermal energy is extremely efficient—the efforts needed to channel it are minimal after a site is found and a plant is set up. Geothermal plants, furthermore, do not need to be as large as electrical plants, giant dams, or atomic energy facilities—the environment would thus be less disrupted. And, needless to say, it is an alternative form of energy—using it would mean we become that much less dependent on oil and coal. Perhaps most importantly of all—we are never, ever going to run out of geothermal energy, and it is not a commodity that would continuously become more expensive in terms of real dollars as time passes, since it is ubiquitous. Geothermal energy would be, in the end, very cheap, after investigation and power plant building costs are recouped.

 

Although it is much less expensive to initially get hooked into the local electric company's grid than it is to set up and hook into wind turbines, in the long run one saves money by utilizing the wind for one's energy needs—while also becoming more independent. Not receiving an electric bill while enjoying the advantages of the modern electrically-driven lifestyle is a wondrous feeling.

Electric bills and fuel bills are rising steadily—but the cost of wind turbine energy is zero, and the cost of installing and hooking up a turbine is steadily coming down as demand rises and more commercial success is realized by various companies producing the turbines and researching technologies to make them ever more efficient. In addition, people are moving away from the traditional electric grids and the fossil fuels for personal reasons including desire for greater independence, the desire to live remotely or rurally without having to “go primitive”, political concerns such as fears of terrorist strikes on oil fields or power grids, or concerns about the environment. Again, this motivation to get away from the traditional energy sources is the same one that causes people to seek the power of the wind for their energy, giving more business opportunities to profit from wind turbine production and maintenance, which drives their costs down for the consumers. In nearly thirty states at the time of this writing, homeowners who remain on the grid but who still choose to use wind energy (or other alternative forms) are eligible for rebates or tax breaks from the state governments that end up paying for as much as 50% of their total “green” energy systems' costs. In addition, there are 35 states at the time of this writing where these homeowners are allowed to sell their excess energy back to the power company under what are called “net metering laws”. The rates that they are being paid by the local power companies for this energy are standard retail rates—in other words, the homeowners are actually profiting from their own energy production.

Some federal lawmakers are pushing to get the federal government to mandate these tax breaks and other wind power incentives in all 50 states. Japan and Germany already have national incentive programs in place. However, “A lot of this is handled regionally by state law. There wouldn't really be a role for the federal government,” the Energy Department's Craig Stevens says. And as might be imagined, there are power companies who feel that it's unfair that they should have to pay retail rates to private individuals. “We should [only have to] pay you the wholesale rate for ... your electricity,” according to Bruce Bowen, Pacific Gas & Electric's director of regulatory policy. However, the companies seem to be more worried about losing short term profits than about the benefits, especially in the long run, of the increased use of wind turbines or wind farms. Head of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies of California V. John White points out, “It's quality power that strengthens the grid.”