It could be said Wednesday, Meadowview Middle School eighth-grade students had a chance to satisfy a “current” interest. Safety Coordinator Randy White from Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation visited the school to talk about energy, with a focus on how it is obtained, transferred and distributed.
White told students some sources of energy to generate electricity are coal, natural gas, nuclear power, oil, hydro-electric and solar. He explained each energy source has its drawbacks. White told students mining coal can cause soil erosion and burning coal releases harmful gasses including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. He pointed out drilling for oil also can be dangerous to the environment and burning oil also produces harmful byproducts.
He explained the predominant fuel for nuclear power in the United states is uranium, which is mostly imported. White said one of the biggest issues with nuclear power is getting rid of what was left over from the process. He added that natural gas also is obtained by drilling and is the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
White estimated there were 300,000 gas lines in the ground nationally and said it is a highly explosive fuel. He said solar farming is promising, but is very costly technology. He told the students the corporation is considering building a solar farm in the Red Brush area but has no formal plans.
“Renewable energy is important, because it will not run out,” said White. “It also creates jobs and helps the economy.”
He said many companies are exploring the feasibility of renewable energy sources including wind, hydroelectric and geothermal options. White said many long-range renewable energy plans have to take into account the resources of each area. An example of this would be locally using solar rather than wind power because there aren’t the sustained winds here that are common in Midwestern states.
White showed students how much less electricity a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) uses compared to an incandescent light bulb. He reminded students recent laws are requiring the use of the CFLs as earlier types are being phased out. He said it is important to re-cycle CFL bulbs because they contain mercury.
He also explained to students how power is generated and carried on transmission lines on large towers to a “substation” where the voltage is run through a transformer that steps down the voltage from 100,000 to 7,200 volts on the smaller electric lines seen along streets and in front of homes. The electricity is then routed to another type of transformer that further reduces the voltage to 240 volts which goes into the house.
“Never get around power lines,” said White. “Electricity is silent and nine out of 10 times it will kill you.” He then showed the students protective gloves linemen wear.
He explained saving energy has become a serious matter and two things that consumers can do to cut costs are simply cutting off lights not being used and keeping the thermostat at one constant temperature. He said 68 degrees is the average thermostat setting.
Student Emily Keck said she found the first-time presentation at the school helpful for the research paper she is putting together for her group’s multimedia project.
“My father (Jason) works with technology, so I came into this understanding the concepts pretty well because I am more in contact with technical terms than people usually are.”
Teacher Sally Adams pointed out while the information was for student research papers, it has other goals.
“This shows them what’s coming up. It might even give them an idea of what they would like to choose as a career,” said Adams. “By the time they graduate the world will be a different place. This research paper is one part of them producing a presentation with their peers and one requirement of the program is using outside resources to give them perspective.”
Teacher Amanda Utt said the students are completing research as a part of their multimedia projects about energy. Students are learning about renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, as well as alternative energy sources… particularly those available in North Carolina.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.