Green energy options getting scant attention

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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By Jamie Larkin (guest opinion)

The P.E.I. Green Economy Network (GEN) was formed in December 2014 for the purpose of promoting a green economy that shifts from fossil fuel dependency to green energy alternatives. These alternatives are aimed at diminishing the use of fossil fuels by retrofitting buildings including homes, establishing environmentally friendly modes of transportation, and supporting organic farming.

Home heating is a big item as it consumes a great deal of fossil fuels. Shifting to solar heating, heat pumps, and more wind projects would further the savings already evident in this province and create many new jobs. Mass transit, retrofits, biomass, solar and wind are prime examples of areas where lots of jobs can be created.

The GEN, composed of several Island groups, is questioning why the province is talking about financing a $50 million turbine in Charlottetown to be built near a second turbine owned by Maritime Electric. There is another such turbine in Charlottetown and two near Borden. These turbines are similar to a jet engine and use a great deal of fossil fuel. A turbine engine can supply 50 MW of power, but the publicly owned wind farms are supplying just as much power and even more.

The Green Economy Network questions whether the new turbine engine is necessary and wants the Island government to begin now to make the switch to supplying green energy. In the same vein the Network questions whether it is necessary to build a new and expensive cable across the Northumberland Strait when investing in solar and wind would make the Island self-reliant in energy at a much lower cost to citizens and to the environment.

It works in European countries to the great advantage of both the governments and the citizens. Such a change would also go a long way to cut down on fossil fuel use and therefore make a difference in global warming levels.

Other green jobs could be developed in farming. Given the Island’s land base, organic farming, which is labour-intensive and requires a much smaller amount of land, is well-suited to this mode of agricultural production and would benefit from the demand for organic food throughout the world. There are many constructive and visionary ways to invest the money earmarked for turbine engines and cables.

GEN sent a questionnaire to all leaders of political parties in the provincial election, but only the NDP and the Green Party took the time to answer. We expect our leaders to take this question more seriously and begin to think green when budgeting Islanders' money.  

Jamie Larkin, member, Green Economy Network-P.E.I.

Organizations: Maritime Electric, The Green, NDP Green Party

Geographic location: Iceland, Charlottetown, Borden

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