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GRE Argument Essay: Electric Power Company - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “The following appeared in a memorandum from the planning department of an electric power company. ‘Several recent surveys indicate that home owners are increasingly eager to conserve energy. At the same time, manufacturers are now marketing many home appliances, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, that are almost twice as energy efficient as those sold a decade ago. Also, new technologies for better home insulation and passive solar heating are readily available to reduce the energy needed for home heating. Therefore, the total demand for electricity in our area will not increase—and may decline slightly. Since our three electric generating plants in operation for the past twenty years have always met our needs, construction of new generating plants will not be necessary.’ Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.”
In the argument, the author suggests that construction of new generating plants is unnecessary because the total demand of electricity may decrease slightly in this area. The conclusion is based on several assumptions that are not addressed.
First of all, the author claims that the demand of electricity will decrease slightly, because several recent surveys indicate that homeowners are increasingly eager to conserve energy. However, this argument is only valid based on the assumption that people will indeed use less electricity, and do what they say. It is possible that people are willing to conserve energy, but many of them may not actually do what they say. If people do not do anything pragmatic that indeed contributes to energy conservation, even though they are willing to do so, then the results of these surveys would not predict the demand of electricity, and this can weaken the author’s argument.
Furthermore, the author argues that people will use less electricity, because energy efficient appliances are available on the market. However, this argument is only reasonable based on assumption that majority of people will use these energy efficient appliances. If this assumption is unwarranted, for instance, people may not purchase these energy efficient appliances, because most of these appliances are usually more expensive than regular ones, then, this could significantly weaken the author’s claim.
In addition, the author also assumes that there is no other product that can potentially increase the demand of electricity. However, it is possible that people start to used electric cars or other appliances that used to powered by other resources such as gasoline, but now using electricity instead. This can increase the demand of electricity, and invalidate the author’s claim.
Finally, even if the demand of electricity indeed decreases in this area, which may not be true, construction of new generating plants may still be necessary. The author assume that the electricity generated by new plants only supplies the demand of this specific area, but if this assumption is unwarranted, for example, it is possible that the additional electricity generated by new plants can supply other surrounding areas. In this case, if the assumption is unwarranted, then it would weaken the author’s claim.
To sum up, the author’s conclusion is based on several unspecified assumptions and if these assumptions are unwarranted, the author’s conclusion would not be convincing.
Okay. First of all, the author does not claim that the demand of electricity will decrease slightly!
Beyond that not entirely pedantic point, your first argument is reasonable, but I don't really see the difference between your first argument and your second. Buying energy-efficient appliances is a practical way of conserving energy. Whether people who have professed an interest in conserving energy will in fact do what it is necessary to conserve energy is a legitimate question, but I don't think you can make two questions out of it.
Your final argument is also reasonable although your way of stating the author's assumption is a bit misleading. Technically, the argument does not assume that "there is no other product that can potentially increase demand" and if you find yourself saying something that specific, you should pause to consider whether there is a more general form of the assumption you are considering. Generally, the argument assumes that demand will not increase despite the anticipated efforts to conserve electricity. Such an increase could happen, as you note, if new electrical products are introduced to the market (such as electric cars) or it could happen for other reasons: new homes, or new appliances, might be bigger than in the past; families might be bigger or migration to the area might mean that the population of the region as a whole might substantially increase.