Detest for wealthy clouded BOCC’s solar decision
Pitkin County commissioners made it clear Tuesday that they are not interested in energy conservation or global warming. Instead they want to even the score with the rich. They did this by voting down a proposal to allow homeowners to mitigate county energy-conservation requirements for new buildings by paying for off-site facilities.
One of the idiots noted that the ability to buy off-site solar generation would encourage the continued use of excessive energy. Really? I have news for the commissioners. Those constructing the new homes and buildings of concern are going to keep using energy, whatever the price. These people have the money; the real tragedy is that the commissioners missed an opportunity to promote increased use of renewable energy. Pitkin County’s greenhouse emissions will be higher in the future due to this thoughtless decision, which was clearly motivated by the envy of their betters by Commissioners Richards, Owsley and others.
Those building in Pitkin County will no doubt keep building. Further, they will install the necessary renewable energy equipment to “mitigate” their carbon footprint at their homes. However, much of the equipment will not be properly maintained and some may even be turned off. From experience I can attest to the fact that even the most advanced solar equipment is costly to operate and maintain. Will Commissioner Owsley or Richards visit every instillation every day to make sure it is working?
The decision is a tragedy. For the past 40 years I have been working as a professional in this area. I was a contributor to the first major study on the question completed 40 years ago. One fact that stood out then and stands out today relates to economies of scale. Larger facilities such as the proposed solar farm are less expensive to operate, more dependable and produce power at a lower cost. The Mid Valley facility will operate. Many of the Pitkin County commissioners allowed their childish petty jealousy of the rich block real progress on the energy and environmental front. In doing so they ironically copied the actions of executives of the major oil companies who have been doing the same thing for decades.
Hopefully they will recognize their error and correct it.
Philip K. Verleger Jr.
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