We need to find safe, renewable energy sources


Published: Sunday, January 23, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 10:56 p.m.
At a recent community meeting, a group of citizens discussed Gainesville Regional Utilities' plans for a new fossil-fuel power plant. One conclusion reached by the group was that energy-conservation programs save money as well as energy.
It has previously been suggested that the Gainesville City Commission refine the current inverted block-rate structure in order to increase the incentive to participate in energy-conservation programs so that more citizens can enjoy the savings available from conservation. Electric bills could be reduced for many users who use energy more efficiently.
According to the Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Alachua County, the county government saved almost $1.4 million between 1992 and 2001. The State Attorney's Office is saving $20,000 per year, thanks to improvements to its lighting system. How much has the city of Gainesville saved?
According to a Black and Veatch study commissioned by GRU, "It may be possible to obtain biomass at a lower cost than the coal currently being burned in Unit 2" (the existing coal-fired plant at Deerhaven).
This study concluded that wood biomass is far cleaner than coal: "Biomass fuels contain little sulfur compared to coal, and so produce less sulfur dioxide ... Unlike coal, biomass fuels typically contain only trace amounts of toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead."
The benefits of wood biomass include reducing pollution in our area, reducing the need for additional expensive pollution-control equipment and keeping tens of millions of dollars in the regional economy rather than sending it out of state to buy coal.
Biomass could help protect our children from the toxic effects (including neurological deficits) of heavy metals in coal. Finally, biomass could be a future revenue source from carbon credits rather than an economic burden on ratepayers due to carbon taxes.
It is time this community looked to the future to meet its energy needs with safe, affordable, renewable energy.
Peter Rebmann, Citizens for Affordable and Renewable Energy, Gainesville

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