(Feedback) The need for locally based renewable energy

A couple articles in today’s edition of BerkshireDaily (11.15.12) sparked my interest to respond.

First, the New York Times coverage of the National Academy of Science report (that President Bush attempted to bury as reported) on the potential of the US power (electric) grid’s vulnerability to terrorists attack (“Terrorist Attack on Power Grid Could Cause Broad Hardship, Report Says”).  Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene gave us a glimpse of the potential impact of the grid going down can have especially as cooler weather approaches. I can’t begin to imagine the impact on a wider area in the middle of winter.

The second article is about wind generating revenues for small towns (“Wind farms generating revenue in small towns,” Boston Globe).

Collectively these articles suggest a roadmap for the need communities have to take responsibly for securing their own sources of electricity through locally based distributed generation of renewable energy.

The wind-derived energy from the projects mentioned are not for local consumption, especially Florida and Monroe and even the Berkshire’s Brodie Mountain project, where the output is for eastern Massachusetts communities.

Wind power does not appear to be a favored solution for the Berkshires, understandably as many want the beautiful Berkshires Hills to remain pristine.  Also, the lack of mps (meters per second) of sustainable wind 24/7/365 greatly drives the metrics that suggest the economics are marginal here at best. No wind here, particularly the southern Berkshires.

What the road map does suggest is that PPA’s (power purchase agreements) from WMECO, National Grid and others (municipalities and industries) can provide a foundation for capital formation necessary for municipalities and local enterprises to build and operate their own distributed electric generation systems for clean renewable energy.

An enhanced discussion of how the local communities can produce their own clean energy while reducing their electricity costs, generating local tax revenues, reducing the threat of terrorism and even mitigating the adverse consequences of climate disruption needs to pick up the pace. Time is of the essence. Of course, creating jobs and improving the local economy are additional byproducts of these projects.

– Barry Hollister, Pittsfield, Mass.



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