Talking to Government

(#254) — Last week’s column introduced a new program from NYSERDA, our state agency that provides assistance for saving energy and dollars.  This particular program offered rebates up to $350 on refrigerators and $250 on clothes washers.  In the first 2 days, more than 35,000 people applied for this assistance and the entire fund of $3,500,000 was exhausted. An even larger number of applications in the first week were not funded. I am glad to know that some of our neighbors acted immediately and were included in the program.  What our legislators and government agencies need to understand is that we are ready to embrace energy  saving opportunities.   It doesn’t require a consensus on global warming.  Our common need to lower the cost of living will make smart, sufficiently funded  government programs backing great technology for the homeowners very successful in achieving several goals.

Large chest freezers are now available  for $400 and use $50 of electricity  annually.  Clothes washers costing $600 use less than $50.  A friend purchased a 42” tv screen a few days ago for $350 that advertises an annual use of $15 of electricity.  The 18” tv it replaces uses $125 of electricity a year and has mercury in many of its tubes.

Just these few examples amount to a lot of new purchases and material that will need to be carefully recycled when their useful life is over. But, they do offer substantial savings to the cost of living for many struggling to make ends meet.  They also use much less energy, are built to last longer, and lessen the negative impacts on the environment and human health. With different economic incentives, the manufacture of appliances could be done regionally whereas they are now produced mainly in foreign countries.

With different incentives and entrepreneurial talent, we could shift from fossil fuel energy for our appliances to renewable energy sources that are now becoming as affordable as fossil fuel based energy.  Solar electric power, for example, has

experienced a radical reduction in panel costs and now competes with large wind power projects for energy costs.  Housing developments, hamlets, small and mid-sized towns can develop solar electric farms, avoid delivery and demand charges as well as the near 90% loss from energy transmission from remote power plants and the instability of price and supply caused by weather and political events.  Solar electric is also available for installation at the residential and small business level.

Our household, local economy and government would benefit by having far more of our income stay within our communities and region.  Our schools, highways, health care, environment could flourish and close to full employment with good paying jobs could be realized if we acted together to prevent wars and other self-defeating policies.  For example, only 1/3 of the federal taxes of NYS residents that are allocated to the war in Afghanistan would provide 100% renewable energy forevery New Yorker.  The other 2/3 provides the benefits listed just above.

Let’s pay attention to government and let them know what we want.

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