Letter: A Regional Strategy on Energy
To the Editor:
The May 19 Sunday Valley News editorial, “Hassan’s Pitch,” raises important choices facing New England states developing renewable energy strategies, but misses the big picture. Our goal must be to take immediate steps to prevent leaving our children a climate disaster. This is not politics; it’s about science and practical solutions.
Hydro-Quebec and the Northern Pass is no “win-win” situation. It’s a huge centralized expenditure devastating vast swaths of arboreal forest, displacing native and animal populations, turning carbon-capturing ecosystems into dark water solar energy collectors, adding to the momentum of global warming.
Billions of dollars for dams and power transmission infrastructure could much more quickly and effectively be spent on small- to medium-scale local renewable projects — hydro, wind, photovoltaic, biomass — creating thousands of sustainable, well-paid local jobs in the construction and maintenance of decentralized sources that will increase energy security and stabilize long-term consumer cost.
Financing models exist to make this happen. In Germany, both large and small investors (that includes people just like you and me) receive 12 to 20 percent annual return-on-investment by financing local projects that have raised the percentage of renewably generated electricity from 3 percent in 2003 to more than 25 percent today, on track to provide 95 percent of electricity demand well before 2050. Here in the U.S., we instead continue to contribute to the vast annual profits of the petroleum and energy corporations that do not include our children’s best interests in calculating their bottom line.
If New England homes now heating with oil or gas converted to wood pellets burned in modern efficient furnaces, they would lower their carbon footprint to 6 percent of what it is today, falling to below 3 percent with pellets produced closer to local markets — again creating thousands of family-supporting good jobs, greater energy security and cost stability. Of every dollar spent on oil, gas, or Hydro-Quebec electricity, 85 cents leaves the local economy immediately, while every dollar spent on wood pellets creates sustainable local jobs and keeps 85 cents in the local economy.
New Hampshire and Maine offer a $6,000 rebate and Massachusetts offers $10,000 for pellet conversion, while Vermont offers only $1,000. What does that say about Vermont’s priorities?