Letter: Urgency missing in article about renewable energy

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The recent article in the Mountain Xpress describing the work of the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment was great to see, but missed the mark on several points [“Nothing But Renewable: SACEE Votes on 100 Percent Green Electricity Goal for Asheville,” Aug. 8]. I commend the city of Asheville and SACEE for taking on the huge task of working on a just transition to renewable energy. Getting the word out to the public about this process is important.

What is missing from the article is the urgency of this process. We don’t have to look too far to see how the climate is already in crisis. NASA is predicting we may have to add a Category 6 to hurricanes in the near future, and officials are upping the distinction of the worst wildfires from “extreme” to “extraordinary.” It is therefore incumbent upon our civic leaders to take the strongest possible action to do what we can to avert catastrophic events here. We’re already doing well with the low-hanging fruit of energy conservation, but to meet the goal we need to include all energy used by the city, not just electricity.

Ken Brame’s meaning was misconstrued when talking about electric buses. It is not that buses are hurting our efforts; we need to address the use of fossil fuel across all sectors in order to succeed. We have to think “globally” about the source of our energy use in order to combat the imminent and extraordinary financial, social and public health costs that will inevitably arise from fires, floods and rising temperatures here in the WNC mountains. We have to think of a transition to 100 percent renewable energy as an investment in the future of our fair city and the people who live here; and we have to keep a strong momentum going if we want to protect our beautiful environment.

— Carolyn Anderson
Asheville

Editor’s note: The article in question was updated on Xpress‘ website Aug. 14 to more accurately reflect statements made by Ken Brame.

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Urgency missing in article about renewable energy

  1. Rick

    The letter from Carolyn Anderson was encouraging to read but her words “we need to address the use of fossil fuel across all sectors in order to succeed” disregarded the fact that some elements of industry and society require energy inputs far in excess of what “renewable energy” can provide. Rudolf Diesel’s engine design, although first intended to burn coal dust and only later refined oil, continues to be the most efficient internal combustion engine ever invented. Laws of physics dictate that to do large amounts of work it’s necessary to input large amounts of energy. This is why railroad locomotives operate with diesel engines. Long haul tractor trailer trucks also use diesel engines for efficiency and long range travel. There is talk now about using liquefied natural gas to power tractor trailer trucks but I doubt that this will be as safe and effective as diesel. Large energy inputs are needed to smelt aluminum, make steel, and to power many other industrial processes. Renewable energy is at best usable for lighting and other small to moderate energy requirements via the electrical grid. Unless we return to a lifestyle like that of the pre-industrial revolution era, we can forget about “renewable energy” providing all of our energy needs.

    • Sam

      You do know there are whole COUNTRIES out there (Iceland is the one that most readily comes to mind) that run off of 100% renewable energy, don’t you?

      It is possible.

      • B E Vickroy

        Sam — Not quite 100 % . 65% geothermal, 20% hydropower. 15% fossil fuels. Living on top of a volcano is the reason for their ‘green’ footprint. Iceland is hardly a world economy leader.

        BTW Recent geological research shows that Iceland has sizable off-shore oil reserves. What do you bet they sell that oil to other nations that don’t live on top of a volcano?

  2. Ken

    Are you kidding me?
    Yes, there is urgency, but what is missing here is how much it will COST! ItAre you a home owner in Asheville? Did your property taxes go up by after the bond passed? If not, then please stop forcing a mandate that will be paid for on the backs of property owners (like me and my long time/old AVL neighbors).

    I am totally for 100% renewables, but as a longterm goal until we have the money (or even a PLAN for money, which they don’t have). Please don’t turn this into a mandate that you’re not willing to “100% pay for”. Not a troll… Just a person trying to get by with the cost of living in this city…

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