On Tuesday Night, community leaders, environmental and Renewable Energy organizations and members of the general public met to discuss Renewable Energy Solutions for Long Island At the LI Clean Energy Forum: Navigating NY’s Energy Crossroads
The event was hosted by AnneMarie Ansel, Chair of the Green Sanctuary Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock and moderated by Sierra Club‘s Lisa Dix.
Ms. Dix said “it’s time for the Long Island Power Authority to move away from plans to lock Long Islanders into dirty fossil fuel energy contracts, instead of investing in clean, safe renewable energy from wind and solar. We need both Gov. Cuomo and LIPA to act now to protect our clean energy programs and fast-track our transition to a clean energy future for New York”.
The importance of this meeting was to bring to the public what their role is in helping transition Long Island and the world at large into more renewable energy.
Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment spoke first.
“We are stuck doing the same things because we have a fossil fuel based economy”. Of LIPA board’s recent decision not (necessarily) to buy into offshore wind she said
“change just got a 15 year jail sentence”.
Explaining our problem, she said “The job of LIPA is to provide affordable, reliable power- not renewable energy… the decision-making structure is wrong. These institutions are not elected but they’re making our decisions and may not have any energy or utility experience. We don’t have leadership that the people can rely upon.
She went on to add, “we need a new movement to move Long Island energy into the new millennium. “Silence is not golden – we need everyone’s voices to be heard”
Next was Ellen Weininger of Grassroots Environmental Education.
She spoke of the dangers, destruction and pollution of Fracking and natural gas drilling. She said livestock is ingesting these FrackIng wastes and our food chain is threatened right now. She explained pipelines are proving difficult to stop because they are not approved on the local level, but on the federal level by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Thus, pipelines like the one being completed under the devastated Rockaways are happening against residents wishes, and continuing to be installed PRIOR to court proceedings to stop them.
She says the best way to keep Fracking out is make sure we have plenty of renewable energy powering our state that we don’t need it.
Peter Olmstead of the Vote Solar Initiative spoke. He explained the US could easily reach 80% renewable energy by the year 2050.
“we need to attract investment and provide access to renewable energy”.
Another major item of interest he spoke of that “if your house isn’t good for solar maybe you could have a few panels on a community system elsewhere”. You know we here at All Our Energy love the Virtual Metering scenario! Why should you have to own a roof to have solar- 8 million New York City residents (and any other urban dwellers) would at least have access to solar empowerment!
He said getting competition into solar to create lower costs would be a key ingredient to more widespread solar usage, and is already happening.
Tim Daniels from Deepwater Wind, the company proposing the offshore Wind farm LIPA ignored, spoke next.
“Wind could have been providing Long Island 10% of its energy had LIPA gone with their plan.”
In his view, New York had taken some steps towards renewable energy 10 years ago but since has stagnated and failed to follow through.
He said locally offshore wind could easily support 3000 MW of power for our area.
We met Ed Laborde of Power Up Communities, a new green energy campaign to help owners make their homes energy-efficient and more comfortable while generating good paying jobs and community benefits.
Definitely check out their website!
Gordian Raacke of Renewable Energy Long Island presented about their 100% Long Island Clean Electricity Vision (CEV) study.
Their study shows that by 2020 it is technically feasible to meet 100% of Long Island’s residential electricity needs with Renewable Energy. It further shows by 2030 we could have 100 percent renewable and zero carbon electricity supply for all of Long Island. He said the only thing missing to make the transition is the political will. Read about it here:
Mr. Raacke has a great outlook on the situation when he says “it’s an exciting time to be alive when we can make the change to renewable energy”
I understand what he says: We have the power – you, I, we- can do it and we must do it together. He reminds us that the price of sunshine is still zero…
A great Q and A session followed questions included
whether Superstorm Sandy would have had any effect on offshore Wind Farm. Tim Daniels’ answer was no – offshore turbines are designed for North Sea storms which are category three winds. The Siemens turbines available to Deepwater wind withstand 120 MPH sustained winds and 150 Mph gusts.
Another question was about the environmental impacts of an offshore wind Farm. Adrienne Esposito replied “when thinking about environmental impacts you must think not about Wind Farm versus nothing, but Wind Farm versus dirty energy plant. No matter what, there’s going to be impacts. The clean energy impacts are so much less plus they dramatically reduce the pollution and climate change affecting the environment.
Another question was about the impending change in LIPA leadership. She said we should be poised to demand the right people are put in charge. We should also make sure they know we think they should not cut their renewable energy programs, and that they need to have more renewables in the mix. We need to let the LIPA Board of Trustees know we need to change.
There was some quiet speculation that LIPA may have left the door barely cracked open to revisit the issue and we should not give up yet.
A European immigrant living here said they’re shocked there is no policy against wasting energy.
(This is an excellent point, as people in the US are under the assumption that “if they can pay for the electricity, it’s their business and that the ‘free market’ of prices will decide how much they use”. Unfortunately, they ARE NOT paying the actual costs of their usage when it comes to pollution, land destruction, and climate change- the “hidden costs” of dirty energy, which they are actually passing off to everyone else.)
They explained that in their home country, when you sell a house you must show the energy usage and efficiency that that house has, as just part of the process. hmmm…
Another attendee named John just made a statement that we must realize we are all addicted to fossil fuels and we need to change our own actions and attitudes.
After the proceedings, I was able to ask the representative from Deepwater Wind:
“If LIPA said “go” today, when would we have renewable energy?”
Answer: 2017- the same time as the new gas power plants would be coming online.
Gordian Raacke summed it up best: “if you think investing in renewable energy is important, then let your elected officials and LIPA know. Become involved! Let’s grab this chance to make it happen!”
do you have pictures of this event to share?
did we miss an impoortant point?
please let us know