(#262) – County and town political leadership reminds us over and over that state and federal government regulations and mandates make good policy and new economic development almost impossible. Even current obligations cannot be met. From the majority of the citizenry comes the report that living from pay check to pay check or even worse when the cost of living constantly increases, is demolishing the quality of life for a very large new segment of our total numbers.
Local development of new partnerships is a very promising direction. For example, the time has come for formation of publicly owned power authorities in our towns and villages. We can start with solar electric power generation, funded by local financial institutions and local customer volunteer subscription, with a plan to control the distribution system as well. Transformative benefits include: 1) lower energy cost; 2) clean, renewable electricity as the main source of energy for all purposes, including transportation; 3) many more local jobs; 4) retention of local dollars; 5) more responsive maintenance and other system and customer service benefits; 6) expansion of the democratic process of dialoque and control; 7) a larger tax base for spreading the cost of government, education and other vital public purpose. A mapping of solar site inventory is underway.
The next step should be installation of wind power where ever the economics work. A report and project implementation template will be available this year.
A third step should be creation of a bio-mass energy sector. Our region has million of tons of bio-energy product that to date has found no useful purpose. We ship it out at considerable cost or simply ignore it which generates very substantial methane emissions. Hundreds of jobs, increased revenues to farmers and owners of forests, cheaper and cleaner fuel for our schools, other public buildings and large commercial structures, new business for manufacturing and retrofitting our HVAC requirements are produced by such policies and investments.
All of these and other new local public-private partnership enterprises can be bundled together in the local public power authorities. The economic accelerator and efficiencies are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Cheaper, cleaner energy and the profile of smart economic development leadership will attract business and existing business expansion. This growth in business will be guided by a new set of values and policy criteria that spreads benefits more equitably and safeguards the health of our neighbors and our magnificent eco-system. Many more of our young adults will be able to make a living here and wages and benefits will rise throughout the local economy.
The physical world has changed dramatically but our practices have not. Every one talks about the weather but very few do anything about it. New public-private investment in local power authorities generating clean, renewable electricity from solar, wind and bio-mass local resources is a very doable first step in stemming the decline in our living conditions and providing for a positive future It is also very profitable and protects personal and environmental health.