Sustainable energy alternative

To the Editor:

What kind of world and society do we want to live in and leave to future generations? What is our vision for the future?

We can invest in an energy system that is renewable, keeps the millions of dollars spent on energy local, creates jobs and investment opportunities, is decentralized and secure, is something we can be proud of, and serve as an example to others.

The alternative is to continue to dump carbon into the atmosphere creating climate change and continue investment in pipelines and fracking that tap more sequestered carbon and cause harm to our fellow citizens. We can continue to privatize profits and socialize or externalize costs.

Some may think climate change is a political issue, it is not. It is a matter of chemistry and physics and chemistry and physics don’t negotiate and they don’t lose.

Could our county create a plan to become a self sufficient supplier of renewable energy? A realistic goal might be to use renewable sources to provide all nonagricultural energy within 10 years and agricultural energy in 20 years. This could be done through a mix of strategies that could include improved efficiency of use, less transmission loss because of local production (our current grid is less than 50 percent efficient), ground source heating and cooling, wind, solar, methane from agricultural waste, biomass, cellulosic ethanol, hydro, and perhaps some hydrogen as a storage mechanism. All these technologies already exist and are being used in other locations.

Benefits would be environmental, social and economic.

Environmental:

• Stop contributing to human induced climate change.

• Decrease total environmental footprint from ground water contamination to exploitation of public lands to oil spills.

• Create a model for a sustainable energy future.

Social:

• No more wars for energy.

• Cleaner healthier living, for example air quality with less burning of fossil fuels.

• Pride in being a leader in doing the right thing as with recycling.

• Be a leader in the 350 ppm movement that could unite us in common cause with others around the world to create a sustainable future. We will have to choose between working together to limit climate change or resource wars.

• Energy security through diversity and local control.

Economic:

• Create good new jobs.

• Secure dependable efficient energy supply with updated grid.

• Income source for land owners.

• Investment opportunity – sustainable energy coop.

• Use of state and federal investment incentives to help build a system that can be copied by other areas.

• Competitive advantage of changing before being forced to.

• Provide for disposal of agricultural waste.

• Decentralize profits and keep money local.

• Improved efficiency – local equals less transmission loss.

How will future generations view our choice? Will we be intelligent and courageous leaders with the vision to create a sustainable energy future or will we let fear of change and unwillingness to invest in infrastructure keep us tied to this already failed system?

 

Bryan Van Gorp

Rushford, Minn.

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