Energy innovation is crucial right now
Can it be denied that good sources of alternative energy are important to the continuation of life as we know it in the United States today? While conservation should be part of the approach to energy consumption, the demands for power usage grow every day. The more Americans depend on digital devices, for instance, the greater the amount of electrical power that is needed. In order to meet those demands, there will have to be alternative ways to harness power and more creative ways in which to heat our homes, as well.But change doesn’t come easy. The Larsons in Cornwall, as reported in this newspaper by Karen Bartomioli, tapped into an alternative energy source by installing a free-standing wood-burning furnace with which they’ve heated their home and hot water since 2005. Now, there have been complaints from neighbors on the effect the furnace has on the air quality in the area surrounding the Larson home. The safety of the air around the furnace affects all in the vicinity, including the Larsons, so it would be expected that they would want the furnace to be safe from both an environmental and a personal health point of view. No matter the energy source that’s in question, whether wood furnaces or stoves, wind turbines, solar panels, you name it, there are now often objections raised by those in proximity to these energy producers. The Not in My Back Yard, or NIMBY, syndrome, while certainly sometimes justifiable, should not be the basis for obstructing all energy innovation in this country. Something has got to give.There is now a bill pending in the Connecticut Legislature that would impose a moratorium on permits for wind turbines in the state, as reported by Bartomioli last week, until the Connecticut Siting Council adopts newly written regulations covering them. Such regulations would give the council and individual municipalities something concrete for reference in deciding the fate of proposed wind turbine projects such as those under consideration this year in North Canaan and Colebrook. The proposal to North Canaan was rejected precisely because the Planning and Zoning Commission had no regulations by which to judge the viability of the project. The pending bill in Hartford takes a responsible approach to requiring a definition of the parameters for wind turbine projects. This kind of legislation should be the precursor to more of its kind, which will be helpful to state and local officials trying to maintain quality of life for their communities while also giving alternative energy a chance.Some real change will need to be accepted and conservation become a part of our lives, and so addressed by our laws, if there is to be enough energy to go around for all in the long run. That will mean opening our minds to different approaches of energy production. Environmental and health issues, which are inexorably intertwined, have to be considered carefully in assessing the best ways to heat our homes and produce energy. However, there has to be a balance that is fair to all yet still allows for independent alternative energy innovation.