Americans have been able for decades to mostly ignore the sources of their energy as well as the impacts of the choices they make. In the US, energy has traditionally been cheap, widely available and extremely reliable.

In the late 1970s an OPEC oil embargo sparked handwringing in the US about energy choices and marked the first government-sponsored cleantech boom. Widespread power outages and the collapse of Enron at the start of the last decade prompted another short-lived period of public interest in energy. Otherwise, the most Americans have seemed to know about energy is how to complain about prices at the gas pump.

Something’s changed. A mix of economic, technology, operational and political factors have brought energy issues to the forefront of political debate in the US over the past six months, and the conversation is set to intensify as the Presidential Debates and the November elections loom.

Americans are becoming aware of their energy use, and its consequences. The next energy race is to educate a new generation of consumers. Companies, regulators and public interest groups are all joining in. This Breaking Energy white paper, based on a series that ran on our site, discusses where we are today, and examines some of the proposals intended to raise American awareness about energy issues.

Download the white paper above, and for more on the elections and energy, visit our hub here.