Should the Oregon Department of Energy devote more funds to the development and maintenance of hydroelectric power sources in America?
Hydroelectric power has been an active source of energy in America since the mid 1800s. Through the use of dams, hydroelectric power uses the natural flow of water to turn generators, which in turn create usable electricity. Damming in the United States flourished with the installment of the Great Dam Act in 1906 which gave the U.S. government titles to many dams. Dam popularity exploded in the 1900s, with other countries such as China taking the initiative to use hydroelectric power as an energy source. The U.S. continues to utilize hydroelectric power to this day, with 7-9% of America’s power supply coming from dams in 2009.
1. The History of Hydroelectric Power in America
This is a journalistic source that is explained by its title: simply it is a summed up history of the part hydroelectric power has played in the United States, and how it came to be a piece of America’s history. This source is written for an audience that is just beginning to explore the inner workings of hydroelectric power and wishes to understand its role in more detail. The audience of this source is a dominated by females, a 55-45% split. It is a blog site that allows internet users to write about things that interest them, which gives hydroelectric power a citizen spin, and allows readers to get a feel for what other people like them think about the topic. The dominant audience is also older, college educated individuals who have children, and are in the higher income bracket. This information shows that a topic such as hydroelectric power are important to people who may have a stake in it and most likely understand and are interested in it. This source is the starting point in my topic: its importance is monumental. To understand where a topic is going, such as in my “should” question, I have to understand where my topic has been, thus: the history of hydroelectric power in America.
http://www.helium.com/items/1151635-what-happened-to-hydroelectric-power (2/19/10, 8:00 pm)
2. US Geological Survey
This academic source briefly describes the use of hydroelectric power and its importance in America, and then goes on to list in detail the pros and cons of hydroelectric power. The audience that this source is writing for could be companies or businesses, to convince them to either switch to complete hydroelectric power or to partition a piece of their energy consumption to help reduce foreign oil dependency. Another possible audience for this source is high school and college aged students, who are asked to visit this website for school research projects, a demographic supported by the fact that 42% of visitors have a college education. The majority of the audience is male, at 52%. This makes sense because it is a government website, and men are the majority in government. It is important for the website editors and directors to remember the two different audiences and cater to them both while still keeping true to the message they are portraying. This source is addresses my “should” question in the fact that it directly addresses pros and cons when it comes to hydroelectric power. This source allows the reader to make his or her own decision when it comes to whether or not hydroelectric power is a reliable source of clean energy.
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wuhy.html (2/19/10, 9:15 pm)
3. Renewable Energy World
This is a news report website dedicated to renewable energy and the newest developments on the different types of renewable energy. It is a citizen source because it is a collection of articles from journalists across the U.S. who are reporting on renewable energy. The articles come from many different sources, but they are all journalists. The audience this source is aiming for is the general public who wish to gather news on renewable resources such as hydroelectric power. The visitation for this website spiked in November of 2009, which coordinates with the presidential election, when the presidential candidates will be speaking about all the issues, including renewable resources and green energy like hydroelectric power. The audience will visit this site to catch up on the news that the candidates are speaking on. The audience is 85% Caucasian, and predominately male. This source offers present day news stories about hydroelectric power, which allows the reader to be fully educated on the subject, and can therefore decide if he or she wishes to support hydroelectric power or not.
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/home (2/22/10, 1:50 pm)
4. Bureau of Reclamation
This is an institutional source that supports and advocates hydroelectric power as an alternative energy source in the western United States. It is an offshoot of the United States Department of the Interior, and lists on the site the projects that the Bureau of Reclamation is currently working on. It is a government website and so is being funded by the government, and works to put hydroelectric power in the best possible light. The audience this website is attracting is older males of Asian descent. Most of these males have no children and make 60-100k yearly and have college and graduate school educations. Since this site is geared towards people of higher education and status, they are more likely to get possible donors for projects that are set for the future, an admirable marketing strategy. The audience of this source is people who know about hydroelectric power and also support it, because the only people who would visit this website are those who have a stake in hydroelectric power. This source is important to my “should” question because it addresses the governmental aspect of my topic, which is specifically what my question is addressing.
http://www.usbr.gov/main/about/ (2/23/10, 2:00 pm)
5. Blain Culver
Mr. Culver is a resident of quaint coastal town Bandon, OR. He is working towards building his own hydroelectric system on his property that he can then use to harvest electricity. He is a citizen source because he has his own views on the topic of hydroelectric power and its usefulness. Mr. Culver thinks that hydropower is exceptionally useful and with the completion of his project he will have enough electricity to remove himself from under the thumb of corporate energy companies. An audience for people like Blain is other citizens, and people who might be interested in setting up their own private hydroelectric power system. Since he is just a regular person, he would be inspiring to people who have similar goals to him, and would most likely use similar resources. Blain used mostly books in his research because they are references that can be easily referred back to when he is working on the system itself. Mr. Culver is an extremely important source for my topic because he represents citizens who are currently paying electric companies to provide energy for their homes, and the difference a hydroelectric power system can make in one such citizen’s life.
Blain Culver, Bandon resident (2/10/10, 3:30 pm)
6. New York Times: Energy and Environment
The online news source New York Times is a journalistic source with a specific section on Energy and Environment, with an even more specific portion dedicated to hydroelectric power. It gives an overview of hydroelectric power and its importance in the United State’s current energy crises. It is classified as journalistic and not citizen because, in this instance, it is an explanation of hydroelectric power with a focus on the governmental point of view. The New York Times caters to many different audiences, and is paid for by subscriptions and advertisements. The most common demographics that visit the New York Times website are males, 72% of visitors. On average the audience is male and predominately Caucasian, with older males who have graduate and post-graduate educations, and making on average more money. This is important for the New York Times website to take note of, since their income comes from subscriptions and advertising, they have to be sure they are advertising to the right demographic. This source is relevant to my topic because it gives a general overview of the topic and shows it in a positive light, as well as giving a governmental viewpoint.
http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/business/energy-environment/hydroelectric-power/index.html (2/23/10, 2:30 pm)
7. Lance Robertson
Mr. Robertson is a citizen of Eugene, OR, and works for the Eugene Water and Electric Board, also known as EWEB. He has worked for EWEB for 8 years and currently works on EWEB’s Greenpower Program, which focuses on switching the U.S.’ dependence on oil to a more renewable form of electricity: hydropower. Mr. Robertson classifies as a citizen source, because he is an employee of EWEB and describes the world as he sees it. The audience that would most likely be associated with Lance is citizens of Eugene, especially those who use the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s website. Since EWEB allows users to pay bills online, it makes sense that the age group most visiting the website is young adults, most likely college students. The audience is also 86% Caucasian because that is the dominant demographic in the city of Eugene. Since Lance deals with public affairs, he will need to gear himself and the website towards the young adults public, as they frequent the website the most. He is an important source to my topic because he represents both a business aspect and the opinions of the general public, and can provide insight to both facets of my topic.
Lance Robertson, public affairs manager at EWEB. http://www.eweb.org (2/11/10, 4:00 pm)
8. Hydroelectric Power Generation
This source is an academic one, with a very specific audience. It uses text and pictures to explain the inner workings of a hydroelectric dam, the Grand Coulee Dam. The reader of this website needs to have at least some knowledge of dam systems, as the drawings include detailed descriptions of working parts. The site includes some charts and diagrams which, to the untrained eye, can be quite complicated. The audience that this website is expected to receive is an audience who knows quite a bit about hydroelectric dams, but that also has a specific stake in dams, specifically the Grand Coulee Dam. Since this website is visited mostly by people aged 18-24, the site must stay up-to-date if it wants to continue getting hits. This source is important because it has two different mediums in which to give out information, and also allows the reader to get an idea of how much work and effort is put into building a hydroelectric dam system. Those who know some things about the workings of hydroelectric dams can visit this website and learn more about the inner devices of specific dams such as the Grand Coulee.
http://users.owt.com/chubbard/gcdam/html/hydro.html (2/23/10 3:00 pm)
9. Alternative Energy News
This journalistic source is another news site, specifically aimed towards alternative and renewable energy sources. Rather than just addressing United States news, however, this source looks at the impact that hydroelectric power has on the world. This source’s audience is people who have an interest in alternative energy and want to stay up to date on all the issues that arise around this topic. This site not only supplies news for the United States, it also updates news from around the world on the topic of hydroelectric power. This allows readers to understand how important hydroelectric power is to everyone, not just citizens of the United States. Like most other sites, this audience is older, Caucasian males. The viewership climbs slowly throughout the year, but, like the other news website it spikes during November which indicates an increased interest during the presidential elections. The average income is well-spread throughout the different demographics, and focuses on people who have a college education. This source is important to my “should” question because it shows just how important hydroelectric power is, not just in the United States, but all over the world, and that the United States government should put more thought and effort into alternative energy such as hydroelectric.
http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/headlines/ (2/21/10 12:00 pm)
10. Oregon Fish and Wildlife
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office is the one source out of the ten that does not directly address hydroelectric power, but still is a very important factor in this topic. The source is institutional, and as a Fish and Wildlife department the website pushes animal conservation on the reader over alternative energy. The portion of the site that addresses hydroelectric power, however, focuses on an aspect not addressed by the other sources: making hydroelectric dams safe for fish and wildlife. The audience of this source is any person interested in environmental conservation, and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office rehabilitates dams to make them safe for traveling fish. Unlike most websites listed on this assignment, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife website has a dominantly female viewership, at 53%. Also surprisingly it is also predominately teens visiting the site, which can be explained by students coming to the site for school research projects. This site addresses the other side of my argument, the side that states fish ladders installed in dams do not adequately allow fish to migrate. This is important to my “should” question because it addresses the other side of the issue: the environmental one.
http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/LandAndWater/ConservationPlanning/ (2/23/10, 8:00 pm)