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Inherit the Wind

To the Editor:

I found Tom Nattell’s critique of the “New Choices for ‘Green’ Energy” being offered by Niagara Mohawk in their September utility bills [The Simple Life, Oct. 10] generally accurate and interesting, with one major exception.

Unfortunately, Tom lumped the three renewable energy providers (Community Energy, Green Mountain, and Sterling Planet) into one negative assessment of Niagara Mohawk’s “green power” offer without recognizing that one, Community Energy, has a solid track record of creating real, new wind power resources.

Yes, Tom is correct in stating that Community Energy was founded only in 1999. In those three short years, their first demonstration project was oversubscribed by 800 percent. Their first success in showing the public’s desire for clean, renewable wind energy resources led to the construction of a 9-million-watt wind farm in Somerset, Pa., at the time the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi.

Community Energy’s marketing resulted in Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first university to purchase the entire output of one of the new 1.5-mw wind turbine, and that started a movement that sold out the entire 9-mw wind farm and created the consumer demand that built another 15 mw of new wind energy in Mill Run, Pa. Penn State then bought the output of three of the new turbines from Community Energy, followed soon after by the University of Pennsylvania (whose five-turbine purchase is currently the largest wind purchase in the country).

These leading institutions were joined by a total of 31 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, plus state and local government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and thousands of individual residents who are willing to pay the small premium to bring clean, renewable wind energy to replace the brown power that currently supplies our electricity.

In Albany, leading environmental organizations including Environmental Advocates and NYPIRG have researched the options and signed up for Community Energy’s “New Wind Energy” product because they found that Community Energy is selling wind generated electricity from the Fenner Wind Farm in Madison County (just east of Syracuse—currently the largest east of the Mississippi). Small businesses including the Daily Grind and Shades of Green have been joined by the University of Buffalo, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Penguin Putnam publishers, and more than 3,000 Niagara Mohawk and NYSEG customers.

These institutions, companies, nonprofits and residents all realize that their purchase of new wind energy will create the market demand that can expand New York’s wind power base from the existing 50 mw to the potential 10,000 mw of land and offshore wind resources (about 20 percent of New York’s current electrical usage).

It is true that Community Energy teamed up with Exelon to build the Pennsylvania wind turbines. While growing quickly, we’re still a small company that needs the financial backing of larger corporations to cover the $1.5 million cost of each new 1.5-mw wind turbine. Our perspective is that, if enough consumers prove their real desire for new, renewable energy resources by putting their money where their hearts are, then consumer demand will create the market that will push out the nonrenewables.

As an energy professional for 20 years, I urge Tom to install the efficiency measures he spoke about, because we in America still waste half the energy we use.

However, while I spent over a decade installing energy efficiency measures for nonprofits, businesses, government, and international agencies, the one thing that always bothered me was that, no matter how much energy we saved, the rest was coming from polluting, nonrenewable sources.

When I look at my kids and see the impacts of smog, acid rain, the hole in the ozone, and global warming, I am thrilled that I finally have the opportunity for my household to become 100-percent wind powered for only $10 more per month (our monthly usage of 400 kwh at 2.5 cents)

Clean energy is here. For the first time in our lifetimes, individual consumers can have new, clean wind energy if we step up and pay just a little bit extra. If enough of us pay the small premium now, we can change our energy mix and make wind power competitive to fossil fuel and nuclear power sources within a few years.

Ron Kamen
New York state director, Community Energy, Inc.
Binghamton

Peace Is a Two-Way Street

To the Editor:

The letters to the editor in Metroland [Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 10] highlight why peace has been so elusive in the Middle East.

Both the Israelis and Palestinians can rightfully be described as victims. Each side has been used as proxies by their so-called backers to further their own interests. Each side can readily cite historical incidences of violence and oppression by each other. Peace will never be found by looking backward but only by moving forward.

Each side in such disputes is always better at detailing the wrongs committed by the other side than in acknowledging their own failures and shortcomings. Violence is never a justification for more violence or oppression. Every act of violence is an admission of failure, a weakening of the righteousness of the cause in whose name the violence is committed, one more step in transforming the “victim” into the “oppressor.”

Both sides must strengthen their commitment to end violence. Israel must end the occupation of Palestinian territories. The soul of any nation, particularly one espousing democratic ideals, is invariably stained through the act of enforcing a military occupation. The Palestinian people must denounce the use of suicide bombings, following instead the path of Gandhi and King in engaging in nonviolent protest. And while the Palestinian people must be free to choose their own leadership, they have not been well served by their present leaders. Nor have the Israelis.

There will never be peace in the Middle East as long as the United States government favors one side over the other, and as long as U.S. support, including propping up corrupt Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia, is determined by military and oil considerations rather than commitment to justice, democracy and individual rights. The United States should support the deployment of peacekeepers, preferably unarmed, in the occupied territories. The U.S. should ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. And a final settlement must include a just resolution to a myriad of issues, including access to water and arable land.

Mark Dunlea
Chair, Green Party of New York State

A Ritter Wrapped in a Mystery

To the Editor:

Here are two things we (still) don’t know about Scott Ritter [“Show Me the Weapons Violations,” Oct. 3].

Who is paying for his “globetrotting?”

Why would the U.S. government think that he might be a spy for Israel?

Maybe your reporter was going to ask Ritter these questions and was just intimidated by his table slamming.

Here is one thing we do know about Ritter. He recently gave a speech to the Iraqi Congress. In this speech he criticized his government and he accused his president of lying. He gave this speech at a time when his hosts were trying to shoot down American pilots patrolling the no-fly zone.

Ritter’s transition from an ex-Marine and a registered Republican to an Iraqi stooge appears to be breathtakingly complete.

David Riley
Albany

Just Make It Legal

To the Editor:

I have been reading with passing interest the squabbles between the Green and Marijuana Reform parties, and while I certainly feel compassion toward those who have a genuine medical need for cannabis, I am also among those who were deeply disillusioned, not so much when the rallying cry turned from “legalization” into “decriminalization” in the early 1970s, but by the trend that came after that: Dump ‘decrim’ too in favor of industrial and medical legalization exclusively.

The whole purpose of the decrim movement was to prevent responsible, job-holding persons from having their lives literally ruined for daring to bring small, personal amounts of marijuana out into the street instead of keeping it behind closed doors like most would do for say, snorting cocaine or having sex. In other words, the movement completely, instead of partially, caved in to the neo-puritanical mentality instead of making tactical alliances with various groups opposed to it, from the “rational” pro-choice movement to the gays and Larry Flynts alike. I blame this failure on a society tragically polarized between reactionism and political correctness with little or nothing in between.

Although I voted for Tom Golisano in September’s Independence Party primary (my “official” party affiliation as far as New York state goes) in an effort to keep Gov. George Pataki’s name off the ticket this November, and though I am no longer a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party, this gubernatorial year my vote will go to their candidate Scott Jeffery for the singular reason that he has vocally attacked not only the senseless drug wars, but the equally ridiculous and baseless cultural wars too.

Finally, my idea of an ideal cannabis policy that is neither status-quo nor libertarian “purist” would be as follows: Legalize the stuff de facto—whether the medical need is there or not—for adults, but keep it about the same price as the black market currently offers. This relatively high price would go down toward public medical care, giving the poor the advantages of socialized medicine, but without burdening the taxpayers with the tab. Also make it legal to grow a certain number of plants for personal use only, the same way one can legally brew one’s own beer and wine, but cannot legally sell without a special license.

Bernard Continelli
Rensselaer

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: metroland@metroland.net. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at metroland@metroland.net.


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