No shame in renewable energy
Friday, July 12, 2019
Lawrence Watts, in July 4th’s Public Forum, challenged anyone to obtain and publish the "real numbers" of energy production by the Amazon Wind Farm in NC (near Elizabeth City). In 2018, according to windexchange.energy.gov, the production was more than 500,000 megawatt hours.
Watts asserted that these production records would shame politicians who vote for spending tax dollars so foolishly. Perhaps, but the Outer Banks Voice reported in 2017 that the Amazon Wind Farm was a $400 million investment into the local economy and will inject more than $1 million annually in landowner and tax payments. No shame in that.
There is much to regret in the use of non-renewable energy. Beside the environmental damage, the direct financial drain is stunning. In Pitt County we have no local sources of non-renewable fuels. Thus in 2018-2019 Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC) must export $150 million of local dollars to buy energy ($130 million for electricity and another $20 million for natural gas). More than $400,000 per day leaves our local economy. And energy costs for transportation exceed the GUC expenditures.
In Pitt County we spend about $240 million per year for motor vehicle fuels (estimate based on per capita use from the U.S. Energy Information Agency.) With no local oil refineries that is an economic drain. This estimate is only the cost of fuels, $2 per gallon for gas and $2.50 for diesel. Not included is the $0.583 in taxes per gallon, which is $65 million more. There is some chance the fuel taxes will be spent locally.
A financial burden would be lifted if we generated renewables locally. Further, renewables do not contribute to climate change. In the meantime, we should aggressively pursue conservation to use every bit of purchased energy wisely. No shame in that.