What’s In Our Front Yard

(#281) – Energy is the blood and oxygen of the Sullivan economy.  The heart of Sullivan is our collective ability to implement policies and projects that sustain a robust economy and preserve public and environmental health.

Here is a report on how we are doing in the energy sector.  It should be remembered that wind and solar energy 1000 times greater than is needed to power everything we do is delivered free of charge every day. This was always so. Today, investing in the technology to harvest this fabulous and safe gift of the natural world represents one of the most cost effective and life sustaining opportunities human kind has ever seen.

Meanwhile, Sullivan County energy use contributes 1,647,860 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent pollution into the air, water and soil within our borders. Pollution figures are available for every sector of the local economy. For example, all numbers representing a ton of pollution, our local transportation and residential  sectors lead the way in polluting our lives, with 741,113 and 347,421 tons respectively.  These two sectors are followed by annual energy pollution in other local sectors such as solid waste: 167,428, industrial processes: 56,219, energy supply deliver: 29,047, agriculture: 20,274, wastewater treatment: 14,735, and commercial 1,406 tons.

The amount of pollution, sector by sector for all 15 towns and 6 villages is also known.  Such a list can be obtained from the County Office of Sustainable Energy, 807-0578.  Taken together it is a stunning picture of self-inflicted damage to our economy and health as well to weather extremity and climate change.

There is an alternative.  Super storm Sandy left the message that if we do not invest in an alternative energy system, more climatic chaos is coming.  Our personal and municipal budgets now require substantial sums, often unaffordable, just to bring conditions back to the previous state of our infrastructure and health, which is in rapid decline.

A lot is known about the energy efficiency and renewable energy alternative to the prevailing energy policy. We know our towns and villages have sufficient roofs and useable land area to install 34 megawatts of solar electric and that solar electric pays for itself in 7-10 years or less and thereafter continues generating essentially free energy.  It is clean, safe, provides lots of good paying jobs and is our future, sooner or later.  At 400 homes/megawatt, that is enough electricity to provide for almost 50% of our occupied county residences.  Install energy efficiency measures through the Home Energy Performance Program, previously called, Green Jobs, Green New York, which features no up-front and no out-of -pocket expense ever as well and we gain 30%  in reduced cost.  Add 3 or 4 local municipal solar power cooperatives or authorities using available open space or agricultural land.  Develop our tremendous bio-mass forestry, agricultural and food waste resources and the jobs, savings and revenue for private and public benefit increases dramatically. Move ahead with the recently completed county-wide wind study.

The point is, we know a lot about a different future for our lives. We also have an increasing eagerness in our communities to implement this better future. In the face of projected economic stagnation, deteriorating health conditions and tremendous damage from climate change, when and how will we take the opportunities in our front yard to live better lives?

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