Challenges and Options

(#279) – Great weather storms like Irene and Sandy are telling us that the natural world which governs and operates all life support systems is no longer able to maintain the predictable and stable parameters we have become accustomed to for organizing our lives.  It is clear the human community has achieved great influence in the natural state of life. But, the partnership remains extremely unequal. The human economy must simply restructure itself to fit the requirements of planet capacity to support us.

We have a lot to build on.  Every day enough solar and wind energy are delivered at no cost to power our needs for 3 years.  Human ingenuity can surely find a way to harness the one in a thousand units of this fabulous daily energy resource to give us all the green house gas free energy we need without disturbing Earth’s necessary work to sustain the human experience. Research and project development to sequester green house gases in rock formations below and even above ground are underway. Solutions to storing wind and solar energy in alcohol are possible. We already have the marvelous opportunity for everyone to have a free energy audit and retrofit their home with clean, affordable renewable energy and energy efficient insulation and appliances at no out of pocket expense. But, we must summon the will to apply for such programs and invest in these technologies.

The utility companies are busy around the clock restoring power through repairing the conventional transmission and distribution electric lines.  A better solution, available to people in many countries is to bury the power lines.  It would dramatically improve the beauty of every corner and mile of our area, radically reduce the 30% loss of electric power lost in transmission from remote power generating plants, and cut the costs of power loss. At stake are millions of dollars saved, lives and livelihood protected, quality of life enhanced and promotion of the area as the smart and best place to live and visit.  But, burying the power cables costs about $1,300,000 per mile in our area and the utility companies have not been willing to maintain adequate investment in the outdated, dysfunctional power grid.

The pattern is clear.  We have solutions to the historic challenges facing up. But, we do not support or require policies and investments to serve the needs of our communities and the natural world.

Lack of money is always the reason for our failure to change direction. Hidden in this argument is the obvious fact that we continue to pay ever greater sums of our income for conventional energy resources which are causing  great threats to human and environmental health.  Within months, we can expect a utility suit before the Public Service Commission, requesting a very significant increase in the cost of electricity.  Liquid fossil fuel costs will track upwardly as well.

On the other hand, a recent survey of land owned by the county, our towns and villages of Sullivan County could host enough solar electric panels to provide our energy needs.  Forest and grass biomass could be added, allowing us to export energy to our neighbors.

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