Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rethinking the Energy Farm

In October I wrote an article in which I advocated solar and wind farms as alternative energy projects to a municipal solid waste gasification plant. I was not fully confident in doing so at the time and would now like to revisit this prospect. In the current political climate there is pressure to embrace these big “alternative energy” solutions and there is currently a lot of campaigning related to this issue by the legislative figures.

In light of the lawsuit that is currently under way against FPL Energy and their Horse Hollow wind farm in Taylor County we should consider that these massive energy farms are not the best solution and in fact may leave us with another flawed but entrenched technology as the massive infrastructure required for such operations bogs down our ability and willingness to keep moving toward new and innovative ideas.,1874,ABIL_7959_522335

The energy “farm” concept is based on current energy model and a common flaw is shared --- the energy is derived from a primary source and then mass distributed. While we may benefit from the cleaner energy that is generated from a wind farm, we are still just as vulnerable to “rolling blackouts,” and price gouging as we were before.

Our water distribution is handled in the same way and we have recently witnessed in the south part of town businesses closing down, hospitals and nursing homes without water, and homeowners dipping water out of neighbors swimming pools with trash cans so that they can flush their toilets.

As humans we are instilled with the gift of reason, which should tell us that erecting massive energy farms and monolithic power lines to disperse electricity to far away lands only benefits the corporate “providers.”

Not only that, but it is probable that in the long run the energy farm concept will serve a greedy bureaucracy as land owners begin to sell their heritage to developers and the state as their love for the land is sacrificed to taxation and as industry creeps into our sacred spaces.

Truly it seems that today there is a deliberate and joint effort by political and corporate powers to herd us out of the rural areas and into more manageable and profitable urban configurations. The TransTexas corridor and the National Animal Id Program are other ways we see rural existence in America becoming inconvenienced if not rendered impossible due to taxation, regulation, and imposing infrastructure.

We saw a massive migration out of the rural areas with the coming of the Industrial Age. The family farm population continues to dwindle. But this is where our stability and sanity lies as a society. In energy production and food production and in many other aspects of our lives we need more independence, not more reliance on international corporations and bureaucracy. Yet these influences are growing in massive proportions.

As we are losing our knowledge of relevant and accurate history, we are repeating it. The founding of America truly was a shining moment of hope in a long history of humanity filled with oppression and subversion; but with each deviation from the principles that this country was founded upon, the opportunity to start anew unravels and the patterns that have plagued humanity from the beginning reestablish.

We do not need corporate wind farms subsidized by government. If here in San Angelo we had solar panels mounted on every home, business, and public building in town, we could generate much more energy than any solar or wind farm could muster, and there would be more to spare. Some may argue that it is not economically feasible, but if those who could afford it started the trend, commerce would be generated and the cost of the equipment would go down. I would gladly vote on a bond package that would enable the rest of us to rig our homes with solar energy, trade our electric bills that are as much or more as our monthly mortgage payments for checks from the energy companies as we sell excess energy back to the grid. If land owners wanted to erect windmills that they themselves finance and own, that would beneficial to all as well. This is as feasible as a corporate energy farm if we decide to say that it is --- the only difference is: more energy, more commerce, more jobs, more financial freedom for the citizenry and less of our hard earned money in the pockets multinational corporations and federal, state and municipal coffers.

Don’t believe anyone who says it’s not possible. Sustainable developments are already becoming established in areas that have less energy potential than we have here. New residential developments in the US, Europe, Japan and elsewhere have homes equipped with solar and wind power, innovative plumbing designs that harvest rain water, recycle grey water and send solids into methane digesters for the creation of heat and additional energy. No municipal waste problem, no energy problem, no massive aging infrastructure to deal with down the road that will cost millions of dollars to fix, less pollution, and an enhanced sense of community.

Let’s make San Angelo into a true model community wherein ingenuity flourishes and the people truly fare well. This all begins in thinking for ourselves, thinking outside the box, and abandoning the idea that improvement only happens with bureaucratic oversight and that government exists to orchestrate and define our future for us…

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Blog Allie.

    Interesting points and much food for thought. My first thought is Tanstaafl (1).

    The current water problems show the problems with a weakly designed grid or network distribution system. When there is a choke point or single point of failure such as the 27" mains, you can be sure that Murphy will be there. At the same time, an individual water well can be expensive and maintenance intensive, and prone to inconvenient outages as well.

    One of the concerns I have about the proposed wind farms is the connection to the rest of the grid. So far, it looks like this will be a choke point and Murphy is likely to be the chief engineer.

    For information on generating your own power Home Power Magazine is good. Solardyne
    has some kits that look interesting for starters.

    1) There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch