Green energy op­tions get­ting scant at­ten­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY JAMIE LARKIN

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.

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