Local Power Portfolio

This activity is part of the Energy Awareness collection of teaching materials on climate and energy topics.

These materials were submitted by faculty as part of the CLEAN Energy Workshop, held in April, 2011 and are not yet part of the CLEAN collection of reviewed resources.
Contributed by Ander Sundell, College of Western Idaho

This activity addresses the Energy Awareness Principle by having students explore how a municipality develops a diverse energy portfolio.


This is a stand-alone lab activity that can be used in an environmental geology course.


Help students understand the positive and negative aspects of six primary energy types.

Activity Description

The goal of this exercise is to illustrate how each municipality needs to have a energy portfolio that is specific to their needs.

The students analyze a spreadsheet that links % of energy types to 6 output categories; cost, environmental impact, NIMBY, and three types of industrial emissions. As the students input % values for each energy type the overall value of each output category is calculated.

The challenge is for the students to come up with energy plans for multiple cities. Each of these cities would have different limits on either the maximum % of an energy type or one of the specific categories.

Example: Detroit, Michigan would use a low cap on the cost category so their energy plan would need to be very affordable. Seattle, Washington would only allow for 2-3% solar because climactic conditions don't favor solar energy.

For the last portion of the activity the students would come up with a plan for their own town and then be able to look up the current plan at https://www.epa.gov/egrid/power-profiler#/. They could then discuss how their plan and the currently implemented plan compare.

Teaching Materials

Assignment Sheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 96kB Jul1 11)

Local Energy Portfolio Spreadsheet (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 64kB Jul1 11)


Students work with the spreadsheet to arrive at a satisfactory solution for the sample cities, examine and critique the portfolio currently used in their area. Students would be asked to do a short write up comparing their proposed policy to the currently implemented policy in their town.