Local Solutions Need Priority Now

(#276) – Sullivan County has been in an economic recession for more than a generation of its people. The beauty and health of our natural environment has always made life more than tolerable.  The local impact of Hurricane Sandy is this week’s lesson that we may be losing this absolutely fundamental support for our lives. The weather chaos that has been hitting our local economy and natural environment very hard  for several years seems to be ramping up.  What will this winter bring us?

What can we do about a 1000 mile wide, $100,000,000,000 storm?  The answer is – we can do a lot.  We have ideas, plans, and projects.  But, will we support them and make the responsible, essential commitments to redesign our priorities and ways of conducting our public and private economic activity that provide local solutions and begin the long-term investment in economic behavior that diminishes the threat of global weather chaos?

Perhaps we can see more clearly as we remain in the grips of this hurricane that our economy is like a living creature where the energy system that is its oxygen and blood and social policy which is its brain are overwhelmed by the results of their failure to respond to nature’s laws.  Perhaps we can turn toward new directions, new commitments that build prevention, protection and a path to a sustained, safe, and prosperous local economy.  Now is the time to make such a commitment but there is very little evidence of support.  We need to change this condition.

Here are some locally available projects:

A Community Net Zero Energy District project for the Health Care and Social Services Complex in Liberty.  The idea is simple.  All energy consumed will be produced on-site by publicly owned utilities.  There will be no power lines to be brought down by wind or trees, no delivery charges with their fabulous demand charge spikes, 80% or more reduction in fossil fuel consumption and atmospheric contamination.  Costs of operation will diminish dramatically rather than constantly increase.  Buildings scheduled for replacement or sale will have another 50 year life and give the benefits of a more comfortable and healthy in-door climate to those who work and visit there for service.  Energy reliability will increase. Experience from this pilot project will be applied progressively, beginning with the first year, to similar projects for the County Government Building complex, downtown commercial and industrial building clusters, schools, etc.

Inventories of county solar, wind and biomass energy are being conducted and sites identified for construction of renewable energy generation. Such planning can provide the great majority of all local energy needs, on a more safe, affordable basis. It will support our educational institutions and create a high rate of new jobs in light manufacturing, engineering, installing, maintenance.  Equally important, these current plans can be financed locally through energy cooperatives and municipal-owned power authorities that help build the new culture of sustainability and community solidarity.

Now is the right time to support such projects. Otherwise, there is just greater cost and loss ahead. The question is: will we sustain our commitment and give adequate support to continue their development?

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