Fuel costs rise fast, alternatives slow in coming

Opinion

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

Judy Baar Topinka

It would seem that all the predictions are correct: we're going to get hit with some super high energy costs this winter.

Already we know how much gas is costing at the pump. I know that Europeans and others have been paying $4 plus per gallon for ages, but that does not make me feel any better at fill-up time. Mercifully, I have the smallest car among elected constitutional officers...a Chrysler just one cut above the teensy weensy Neon. But, filling that car these days is enough to curtail trips which don't have to be made or which can be postponed.

When we use our campaign van to cover the longer distances of the state, I was sure that we were filling up the back seat at the size of the bill. It makes me wonder just how families with those big SUVs survive at today's pump prices. Gosh knows that there are plenty of them around town, often with just one person riding in them. I am hopefully assuming that there may be larger families involved so that more people are using these gargantuan, domestic tanks, else why would a small family be straddled with one of these gas guzzlers.

With oil being a finite resource, and a pretty good polluter as well, not to mention its coming from those parts of the world which are pretty hostile to us, one would think that renewable energy sources would be a primary concern to the federal government. If so, Illinois would be golden what with bumper crops of corn for ethanol and soybeans for diesel. The recently passed federal energy bill does move in this direction, but over a period of years. We really need to get at it sooner rather than later or else we will continue to pollute the air, be held hostage by volatile peoples in the Middle East over oil and continue to pay exorbitant prices to fuel our cars. And, all the pleas for public transportation will seemingly never get us to give up our cars.

And, if we thought our cars were costly, just wait till the heating bills come in. Natural gas prices are expected to rise some 40 percent in the Middle West. I am already playing with my furnace and thermostat, turning the furnace on and off, setting different temperatures for the night and day and looking for air leaks in my bungalow in order to save some money. I recommend similar policies to all. One figure I heard was that if your heating bill were $1,000 last year, figure it will be at least $1,500 this year. It is certainly not a time to keep the door open while yelling for the kids or the dogs or whatever.

I have been especially interested in wind energy to see if we again can use a renewable energy resource rather than be continually dependent upon the vacillations in price of a finite heating element such as natural gas. Modern looking windmills are already beginning to pop up around the U.S., Europe and Asia...and in Illinois, too. I got to tour one in Pittsfield, IL., last week, and it was spectacular in what it could do. Near Rochelle, IL., we have a full-fledged wind farm growing with dozens of the multi-story edifices sprouting up among the farm fields.

They certainly don't look like anything Cervantes would have written about for his Don Quixote to tilt with, but are giants in steel with high tech computerization and telemetry inside. There is no question in my mind that they are the future, but getting them up and paid for, initially, is the bugbear here, not to mention as to where this energy can be sold. Until both those problems are settled, the breezes of Illinois will go unfettered, and we will continue to pay high bills.

And then I met the man who was running his car on old cooking oil which he was buying for a song from a restaurant which had finished with it. I don't know that we are at that point just yet, but it was interesting to hear how he made his own fuel in his garage. I listened intently because he was obviously getting the oil to work for him. But then I thought of what it must be like to follow him on the road with the aroma of french fries wafting from his exhaust pipes.

Love the Landmark?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Riverside Brookfield Landmark and RBLandmark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect