Hiram College


Have you ever realized how hard it is to find the origin of things you use every day?  Do you know where the food you ate this morning came from?  Where your car was made? Or what country your phone was produced in?  I bet you don’t!  These blind spots in our everyday lives make it hard for us to understand the actual resources that go into the things we consume.  One huge blind spot the SEEDS have been investigating is electricity.  If you are like us you probably don’t consider the path the power takes to charge your phone when you plug it in after a long day of texting.

This realization has given rise to a simple question: Where does our power come from?

The answer, has been shockingly hard to find.  We have not been able to isolate the power plant that generates our electricity at Hiram.  In fact I was told by our energy provider that this information was impossible to locate as the grid–the system of lines, transfer stations, and plants that deliver our electricity–is just too complicated.  But here is what we did find out:

Our provider is Ohio Edison, a subsidiary of First Energy which serves over 6 million customers in the United States and has over 194,000 miles of power distribution cables.

Here’s how Ohio Edison’s sources of electricity generation  breaks down:

  • 65.5 % is derived from coal
  • 16% from nuclear
  • 14.5% from natural gas
  • 1.5% from biomass
  • 1% from hydro
  • 0.5% from oil

For Hiram OH, then, the most likely course of our power generation is burning coal.  The problems with this is coal is highly polluting. CO is a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.  Noxious chemicals such as mercury and uranium are also released.  And the burning of coal can cause acid rain–harming forests, agriculture, and many forms of property.

While we still have a lot to learn about the electricity that comes from our regional power plants, we were happy to find this cool tool that shows us how much power the campus’ solar arrays are generating.  As of today we have generated 197,806.02 kilowatts of power, energy to power 1,129 60 watt light bulbs 8 hours a day for 1 year!

One thing we have discovered is that it’s ridiculous to have access to so little information about something so prevalent in our daily lives.  We then became curious about how much the average Hiramite knows.  So we started asking.  Stay tuned as we share our findings.