In November 2015, PA IPL member Fred Kraybill submitted the following comments in regard to the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on the Clean Power Plan.
Comments on the EPA Clean Power Plan
My name is Fred Kraybill and I live in Pittsburgh. I am part owner and manager of Thomas Blvd Group which owns and operates an apartment building. Thomas Blvd Group is a solar powered business. We have solar panels on the roof, geothermal heating for the building and we have an electric car for transportation. We support clean energy.
Point Breeze where we are located recently ran a Solarize campaign to educate the community about solar energy and we were able to increase the solar installations in Point Breeze from 9 to 18 homes. The interesting thing is what the solar homeowners are saying about their reasons for going solar such as “to help the planet,” “to not contribute other peoples’ poor health,” to reduce our carbon footprint, and to fight climate change. Increasingly the end user of electricity is demanding clean energy and a livable climate and I view the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as a response by the government to meet this pressing need.
Our neighboring state, West Virginia, has been dominated by the coal industry for many years. West Virginia not only produces a lot of coal but also uses a lot of coal for electrical generation. Coal has been on the decline in recent years. Pittsburghers can understand what it’s like to be dominated by one industry. At one time steel was king in Pittsburgh and we lost this major industry in the 70’s and 80’s without anything to replace it. But West Virginia has a major opportunity to develop wind power in its numerous windswept ridges. Replacing aging, polluting power plants with clean energy would truly be an environmental victory that would grow the economy and create jobs! Coal mines deplete and eventually shut down but the wind keeps blowing!
Worldwide there is a clean energy race going on. Mercom Capital predicts 57 Gigawatts of solar will be installed this year and another consultant predicts 59 Gigawatts of wind power will be installed this year. Both of these numbers are record breaking. The clean energy race is a race the America should win. But we can’t win it if we’re not in it. The Clean Power Plan puts us in the clean energy race.
We have a major wind power corridor developing right here in the tri state area. From the Johnstown area in Blair and Cambria Counties there are several wind farms. Heading south to Somerset County there are about 9 wind farms. Crossing the border into Western Md there are several wind farms in the Deep Creek Lake area. Then crossing the border into West Virginia is one of the largest wind farms east of the Mississippi in the town of Mt. Storm. We should continue this build out. Pennsylvania can build more wind power and also import wind power from areas such as West Virginia.
What about natural gas? We should avoid natural gas. It may burn cleaner than coal but it still emits CO2. Gas wells deplete rapidly, they can pollute the surrounding water supplies and worst of all methane that leaks from the pipeline infrastructure is a more potent green house gas than CO2.
What about the need for storage with renewable energy? This claim is sometimes over blown. Balancing the intermittency of wind and solar is not even necessary until about the 25% mark because there are already dispatchable resources on the grid that can balance the variable nature of renewable energy. After 25% renewable energy we can use storage. We have dams to store water for irrigation, for flood control, and to generate electricity. We even have dams that pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper dam at night when electricity prices are low and then use that water to generate electricity during the day when electricity prices are high.
This type of electricity storage is called pumped hydro. Solutions such as this and others can get renewable energy to high levels of penetration on the grid. We make huge concessions to the nuclear industry such as the federal government insuring nuclear power in the event of a catastrophic meltdown so we most certainly can assist renewable energy by building more storage. We must transition off fossil fuels for a cleaner, healthier, and safer planet. Remember the solution to pollution is renewable, it’s doable!