Harrington: Wake up and smell the mercury, Summit Cove NIMBYs
August 2, 2013
Having been one of two public attendees at the final Summit Middle School public meeting on the solar project at Summit Cove Elementary School, I am aware of the public apathy of a large project such as this until the project begins to physically take shape. Residents of NIMBY Cove are complaining about this clean energy project as a blight on the landscape. This is a project that will make the future adult lives better for the children that attend that school.
Granted the project could look better had the proper planning been done to improve the appearance. I drove by the array yesterday and looked at it from Keystone West Ranch. Being a solar installer myself, I noticed that the contractor is following the contour of the land and of course we don't live in the flat Midwest. Lining up the various arrays to provide some symmetry might have made this project look better from the outside.
Residents are complaining about the size and scale of this project along with the safety of their children and yet they continue to operate their appliances and heat their houses burning fossil fuels. Any type of energy production has a big footprint. Every time I drive to visit my family, I pass trainload after trainload of coal heading to Texas to be burned every day in huge coal-fired electrical power plants. Entire mountaintops are being destroyed and the nearby watersheds are irreversibly damaged by mountaintop strip mining. One coal burning power plant in Craig, Colo., running at full capacity can burn 8,486 tons of coal per day. My electrician worked one week at that plant and said he would never go back. He called it blood money. This pollution generating electricity is transmitted inefficiently over long distances to keep that power production out of your sight and knowledge. Yet we all know that the resulting emissions of CO2, SO2, and mercury that are emitted by these plants cannot be good for the health of anyone. But remember the Clean Coal commercials. We are burning clean coal, right? Only one of the three generating units at the Craig plant emits 5,693 tons of nitrogen oxide, 1,792 tons of sulfur dioxide, and is allowed to emit 403 tons of particulates each year. At least that is what the Colorado Department of Public Health says. That has to be clean.
The Summit Daily reported that residents are concerned about short-term safety risks. They cite potential OSHA violations. And yet they continue to deny the long-term health, economic and social risks that continuing to burn fossil fuel, which they do every day, creates.
So before you parents and grandparents come to the public meeting "up in arms" about shutting down this eyesore, look you kids in the eye and tell them that you are doing this for them. You don't want the real estate value of the house they are going to inherit be damaged by some utility project. Then take them over to the golf course and put them in golf lessons, because when they get older, the ski season is going to be so short that I would not invest in lessons or equipment.
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