Utilities Urge Cutting Back Electricity amid Heat Wave

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The hot weather across much of the country has power companies urging Americans to conserve electricity and avoid potential power problems.

In California, the heat wave triggered what's called a statewide "flex alert," asking Californians to conserve energy.

For the first time, the state's utility companies are offering rebates to customers for cutting back on electricity use on certain hot summer days.

"It's good for the power grid. It helps us build up that cushion of reserves in case we suddenly lose a transmission line or a power plant," CAL ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle explained.

"It's really good for the consumer because they're going to come out ahead and keep costs down," she said.

Cutting back is one way to protect our energy reserves, but many experts say we need to produce more.

According to the Department of Energy, coal is the largest source of energy produced in the United States and is used to generate about half the electricity here.

However, many in the coal industry in West Virginia say they're being targeted by the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"When people oppose the coal industry, they should really think long and hard and take a history lesson on how important that coal and that steel has been to American civilization and American freedom and the freedom of all Western democracies," TransGas Development Systems President Adam Victor said.

Others point to the natural gas boom in places like Pennsylvania.

Recent advances in drilling technology, along with hydraulic fracturing, are freeing the gas from its rock prison deep below the ground.

"This is an absolute blessing that we have been able to unlock this resource," said Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources, a company drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania.

"What it can do is, for the first time, we have a real ability to take control of our energy future," he explained.

Similar technology is being used to drill for oil in shale rock in massive reserves located in states like North Dakota and Montana.

With American energy reserves, the head of Shell Oil recently said the United States could aim for near-energy independence in the next 20 years.

Analysts say the benefits of developing oil, natural gas and coal resources would amount to financial windfalls around $5 trillion for the United States.

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.