2008-07-24 / Editorial

We can set the pace for energy efficiency

• EDITORIAL •

One could almost hear the collective sigh of relief this week as the price for one gallon of gasoline dipped a penny or two below the $4 mark. We now think of gas that costs $3 or less as the good old days.

Of course, none us of expect gas prices to continue on a steady decline. The high cost of oil will really hit home when we begin heating our homes this fall. That's why we must increase our conservation efforts and look for alternative sources of energy.

While researching how small towns are saving money in light of ever rising fuel costs, I came across a story about Rock Port, Mo. As of April, this Midwestern town of 1,300 people became the first 100-percent wind-powered community in the United States. Four wind turbines located within the town limits produce 16 million kilowatt hours annually. Excess wind-generated electricity not used by the town is sold to the local electric utility.

This sounds like what our island wind energy committee is currently studying. The wind turbines used by Rock Port are impressive examples of technology. Each turbine sits atop a 250-foottall steel tower. The turbine is driven by three 90-foot-long blades. A minimum wind speed of nine miles per hour is needed to begin generating electricity. Maximum power output is achieved with winds of 14 mile per hour.

This certainly sounds like an interesting alternative to the 21.7 percent hike in our electricity rates that we will be paying to National Grid as of last week. So how many of these wind turbines could we build at Beavertail?

There are others ways that our town can save money. This week we learned that the Jamestown police will return to foot patrols in the village as part of its outreach to the community. That's a good start. Walking saves fuel, too. If we go further with that idea, police officers could take to riding bicycles in our residential areas as part of the community outreach. We could also put our police officers on electric scooters.

When it comes time to purchase a new police vehicle, the town could opt for an all-electric cruiser. A number of small-town and university police departments are considering replacing their gas guzzling machines with electric alternatives. Several police departments have mandated that officers no longer allow their cars to idle. Instead they turn off the vehicles.

We can replace our street lights. The city of Ann Arbor, Mich., is currently operating LED street lights and expects to save $1.4 million per year. We can also replace interior building lights with energy efficient CFLs as the old light bulbs burn out.

Some towns have formed special task forces and committees to study ways of saving money on their energy bills. If you have any energy-saving suggestions for the town, send us a letter to the editor and we'll share your idea.

- Jeff McDonough

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