Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Right Power

One way for the town, in fact, all of us, to save a bit of coin, and to be green is to consider energy sources not currently used en masse. Geothermal, wind, solar are all ways that eliminate the need for carbon based fuels.

Nothing you haven't already heard for 35 years.

Today, with the glaciers peeling away, Polar Bears being threatened by a melting habitat, the gradual rise of the sea level all due to the rising temperature in our atmosphere from the use of carbon based fuels we all need to look for ways to lower our use of them.

Again, nothing you don't already know, but now the clock is ticking more loudly than ever before. Twenty five years ago I put solar panels on the roof of my house to heat my hot water. It was effective, but after a time became less so, and those in the know to maintain these systems had moved onto other ventures. As a result, the system fell into disrepair, and I eventually dismantled it. It was great when it was working.

Today we have come so much farther than where we were in 1982, and now is the time for all of us to explore the options available. Currently, there are plans for a solar farm to be built off of Clarke Road to produce power and to be fed directly into the grid. This is fantastic, and so far the town is all for it.

Recently, it was announced that the town has qualified for funds, and a matching grant to place a solar power system on the roof of the DPW garage. The system will supply enough electricity to power two refrigerators for a year.

Big whoop.

A sixth grader could build a similar system as a Science Fair project.

Just turn off the refrigerators and save the money for building the system, or the money you would pay National Grid to power them now. The cost of the system far outweighs the benefit.

Just because we use the word "green", or "solar power", or put a small system into use doesn't mean we are doing anything that will be felt globally, or even locally.

We need to think big. Huge.

If the town is serious in helping to remove their "carbon footprint" then they need to think of things that are large on scale, and haven't been considered seriously before. Futzin' around with tiny, expensive projects does little, and as far as gaining good press, well, folks are smarter nowadays. They know when the money could be used better elsewhere, and if a project is only for show and tell.

How about putting wind turbines on up on Stallion Hill where the water tank is? Or, maybe, a solar farm of our own on some town land? Maybe looking into hydroelectric power from the East Brimfield Dam?

These are big, huge projects, but the return would be just as huge. Imagine producing enough power to light up the schools, the town offices, those DPW refrigerators, and having enough left over to sell into the grid?

Whoa. Can I hear a "cha-ching"?

I am not saying that the current direction is bad. It isn't. In fact it's awesome, but we have to stop playing it safe, and start thinking, and exploring beyond our comfort zone if we are to see any appreciable return.

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