When we hear about the benefits of buying locally, we are usually thinking about such objects as hard consumer goods- food, clothes, etc. There is most certainly benefit to buying consumer products close to home. If you do not need to transport those goods or the raw materials far, then it saves on the energy required to transport those goods. However, most of us don't think about electricity as a local resource. In truth, we should be.
The immediate question that springs to mind is, "isn't all energy produced locally?" The short answer to this is yes. The longer answer is something more like, "sort of." If you live in California, you're not going to be getting power from New York- but you might be getting it from Oregon. Say it's only a few hundred miles. That doesn't seem so bad. However, many of us don't realize that electricity is lost during the process of moving it from one place to another. Power lines simply aren't efficient enough to transport 100% of the power put into them.
This may seem like an odd situation given how much work has been put into electrical technologies, but the technology for transporting electricity simply hasn't made the leaps and bounds that have been made in the technologies focused on creating electricity. It remains a tremendous problem for the environment. By transporting electricity, energy is wasted before it's even gotten to your home.
There is, however, an easy solution: create your own power at home. If you have a wind turbine or solar cell in your backyard, it doesn't have far to travel at all. There are a set of benefits: 1. Home electricity relies on a local resource (i.e. creating solar power in Phoenix, not Seattle); 2. Power created at home does not need to be transported miles and therefore will not degrade; 3. Ultimately, humanity will have to produce less power since none will be lost in transport.
Obviously, there are numerous other benefits to building your own green power system. Creating your own electricity saves you money by allowing you tax breaks and cutting out one monthly utility bill. In addition, environmentalists can rest assured that they know their power is truly green and not being made with fossil fuels. Lastly, you can be sure that a local resource is being used to make your electricity.
With today's technologies, it is easier than ever to build your own green energy system. It is also cheaper than ever. There are numerous guides available that can show you how to make solar cells, micro-hydro, wind turbines, and a variety of other green energy systems on your own. Often, this can be done for less than $200. Even fully-priced systems that range into the thousands of dollars tend to pay for themselves in the long-run.
Consider this impact. First, you save money. Second, you create electricity from green sources. Third, you prevent the power that is wasted through transit. Today, we should be considering electricity a local resource and if we truly want to make an impact on the environment.