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Lighting Up the World

Why electricity is good—and more is better.

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2011

energy like wind and solar power might one day lead to cheap electricity—but not yet, which is why their subsidies per unit of production have been nearly 70 times higher than gas and coal, for example. 48 Today, cheap electricity is the driving force behind the economic miracles unfolding in both China and India. Pasternak (2000) found that a per-capita annual consumption rate of at least 4,000 kWh of electricity is required for a nation to reach a significant Human Development Index of 0.9. 49 Electricity poverty is thus a global blight: well over four billion people, at least 60 percent of the world’s population, use fewer than 2,350 kWh per year, or only one-third as many as a typical resident of the European Union. 50 The Copenhagen Accord 2009 claimed the IEA-reported $36 billion per year until 2030 investment needed for universal access to electricity as a “first and overriding” priority. 51



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2. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2010 , p.621.

3. International Energy Agency, Energy Poverty: How to make modern energy access universal . Sept. 10, 2010, p.10.

4. Electric Power Research Institute, Assessment of Achievable Potential from Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Programs in the U.S. (2010–2030) , Executive Summary, January 2009, p.7.

5. Pope, Carl, “ Moving the U.S. Off Carbon With Less Pain, More Gain ,” Sierra Club, Jan. 22, 2009.

6. See Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, Electricity in Economic Growth , The National Academies Press, 1986.

7. Roosevelt, Franklin, “The Governor States the Power Issue,” The New York Times , Jan. 12, 1930, p.127. Retrieved from Proquest Historical Newspapers (1851-2007) from Penn State University’s Pattee Library.

8. National Academy of Engineering, “ Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century ,” 2002.

9. “Stabilizing California’s Demand,” Cynthia Mitchell, et al., Public Utilities Fortnightly, March 2009.

10. See Renewable Energy Development International and Dzioubinski, Oleg and Chipman, Ralph, Trends in Consumption and Production: Household Energy Consumption , United Nations, April 1999.

11. See International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2010 , pp.79-633.

12. See Testimony of Dr. Jay Apt and Dr. Robert Michaels, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, hearing on the American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009, April 23, 2009.

13. Ostrolenk, Bernhard, “Conference to Debate Many Power Problems.” The New York Times , Sept. 6, 1936, p.E7. Retrieved from Proquest Historical Newspapers (1851-2007).

14. Brenner, Harvey M, “Commentary: Economic growth is the basis of mortality rate decline in the 20th century–Experience of the United States 1901-2000,” International Journal of Epidemiology , 2005, Volume 34, Issue 6. pp.1214-1221.

15. Zakir, Mohammed and Wunnava, Phanindra, “Factors affecting infant mortality rates: evidence from cross-sectional data,” Applied Economics Letters , 1999, Volume 5, Issue 6. p.271.

16. Cutler, David and Miller, Grant, “The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The Twentieth-Century United States,” Demography, 2005, Volume 42, Issue 1, p.13.

17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chapter 2: