LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Conservation over demonstrations

The Chronicle Express

I am concerned by the misplaced seemingly good intentions of demonstrators opposing the profitable operation of the Public Service Commission-regulated Greenidge Generation. Saving the environment is good and necessary, but personally, I abhor demonstrations in opposition to an action, and instead support demonstrations promoting a constructive cause.

In this case, I would love to see 100 demonstrators lining the streets of urbanized areas -- perhaps Penn Yan, Dundee, Rushville, or Dresden -- urging the homeowners to conserve electricity and natural gas. To lower thermostats in the winter, to disconnect energy vampires (devices that stay partly on so that a click on the remote gives instant on), convert to LED lights, upgrade furnaces, install geo-thermal heating or install solar panels in their yards, on roofs or in unused community spaces.

Beyond my dislike for opposition tactics, I also believe that until demonstrators have done these things, their actions lack credibility and integrity. Until they put their money where their mouth is, I mistrust their intentions. There is much that they can do. For example, I have installed geo-thermal heating. It recovers heat from the ground for my energy supply, but it still needs some electricity to run the heat exchanger that takes the ground energy and puts it in the floors of the house. I’ve reduced my energy bill by over two-thirds. I have also installed a solar panel array in my yard that will generate 95% of the electricity I have been using. It powers my home as well as providing power to my shop in the barn. Both my 14-year-old utility pickup and my 16-year-old sedan need replacement soon and I intend to replace them with at least Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles if not totally Electric Vehicles.

This summer, I will be installing a wind-powered generator and back-up battery to power equipment on the lakeshore and provide security lighting for guests.

But, having done all this, I realize that I still need the power grid and electric generation systems that are not dependent on just wind and sun. I need the power grid as my back-up supplier, sort of like my storage battery for times when I cannot generate what I consume. Like many electric users across the state, I need a generation station like Greenidge to be there idling along with a low output, but with reserve to provide more power on cloudy days or days when snow covers my solar array and the sun is low on the horizon. And, if stand-by generating plants need a supplemental energy buyer that can be temporarily shed when I need power, then I support them.

If the small generating plants that provide intermittent power to the grid are not able to maintain themselves and give a reasonable income to investors or owner, I expect that they disappear. If the nuclear plants near New York City are decommissioned, then plants like Greenidge, in the rural areas, will be asked to stay on line more of the time. For now, mining cryptocurrency seems like a good short term answer in many ways.

For me, representing a family that has gone a long way to reduce energy consumption, I support Greenidge Generation. I also urge Greenidge’s opponents to commit to energy conservation at a level that my family and I have. Then, when standing on the high ground, go forth and convince others to take the same conservation measures.

Rob Schwarting