9.14.2008

Universal Propositions

Religion is such a personal experience that I struggle to understand its universal propositions.  How can so many people hold so many contradictory beliefs for one to arise as truly "universal."  A position that me and Mr. Franklin might have agreed upon, hopefully one of many:


Benjamin Franklin on Religion.  Taken from Don't Know Much About Historypage 121-122, by Kenneth C. Davis

"Here is my creed.  I believe in one God, creator of the universe.  That he governs it by his Providence... That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this... And to Jesus of Nazareth, I think the system of morals and his religion... the best the world has saw or is likely to ever see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have... some doubts to his divinity.  I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments.  I hope to go out of the world at peace with all of them."


~Dedicated to Vincentinius Maximus

9.08.2008

Next Steps

The following represents a staggering 16 months of progress towards our goal of developing a renewable energy project for Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS). We are not across the finish line yet, but getting closer...

Published Saturday August 23rd, 2008

Schools considering big, little renewable energy options

BY HAROLD REUTTER OF THE GRAND ISLAND INDEPENDENT
GRAND ISLAND —"Little wind" probably means hitting an easy target of having the Grand Island public schools generating 5 percent to 10 percent of their energy from renewable resources.
"Big wind" makes it easier to hit a goal of the Grand Island public schools generating 25 percent of their energy from renewable resources. 
And the easiest way for the school district to achieve a "big wind" turbine project is to have citizens make "volunteer green contributions" to the venture. 
That's the current thinking of Matthew Leaper, business development manager for Johnson Controls. 
On June 2, Johnson Controls signed a contract with the Grand Island public schools for a "project development agreement" to generate renewable sources of energy for the district. 
Leaper has sent a two-page update on that effort to district officials, and he shared his current thinking -- which is still evolving -- on how the district may satisfy a portion of its energy needs through renewable resources. 
So far, Leaper and his team have done a survey of all district buildings. 
Leaper also has had "preliminary" talks with city, business and utility officials on what might be needed to make some potential parts of the project feasible. 
One possible source of renewable energy would be using solar energy to heat water for the district, Leaper said. The financial viability of that idea depends in part on how much water a particular building uses. 
Leaper said the best candidate might be using solar energy to heat water for the centralized food preparation kitchen the district plans to create. 
He said such a facility would use lots of water, making it a practical consumer of solar energy. 
Solar energy would heat water from its starting temperature to a predetermined level. Natural gas would then heat the water the rest of the way to a temperature that can sterilize dishes, pans and equipment used for cooking, he said. 
Another source of renewable energy would be photovoltaic, in which solar energy would be converted to battery energy for use in district buildings, Leaper said. 
The key component, though, may be wind energy. 
Leaper defined a "small wind project" as generating 100 kilowatts. He said such a turbine would be 37 meters -- or about 120 feet -- high. Leaper said the height would be comparable to a water tower. 
Such a turbine might be tied to a specific school, or it could be tied in somewhere else in the Grand Island utility system. In the latter case, electricity might not flow directly to a school but could still help lower district utility costs. 
Solar and photovoltaic energy and a small wind energy project should enable the Grand Island school district to generate 5 percent to 10 percent of its energy from renewable resources, Leaper said. 
Hitting a higher target of 25 percent from renewable resources likely would involve a "big wind project," which Leaper defined as a turbine generating 1 to 1.2 megawatts of electricity. 
It might be possible for the district to get 25 percent of its energy without a big wind project, but it would be more difficult, he said. 
A big project would involve a wind turbine of 100 meters to perhaps 150 meters, which would be at least 300 feet high or even higher, Leaper said. Such a turbine could be within the Grand Island utilities service area but could not be in an urban setting. 
Leaper said the turbine also would have to be placed in an area where it would not be harmful to cranes or other migratory birds. 
Although still intended to help the school district's utility bills, the financing also would be more complex, Leaper said. Part of the financing might involve the Grand Island utilities -- or some utility -- being willing to buy energy from the turbine at what is called the "energy-avoided cost." The terms of such a purchase are requirements of current law. 
Part of the financing could also involve what Leaper called "green tags." He defined those as having a company that is a major producer of carbon dioxide buy a credit or certificate in a renewable energy source. 
Such a credit would serve as an offset to the carbon dioxide the company or plant produces, Leaper said. 
That company could be located anywhere, not just Grand Island. 
Another potential source of financing would be what Leaper calls "volunteer green contributions." He said customers of Grand Island utilities -- both residential and commercial -- might agree to have a certain amount per month added to their utility bills to help finance the project. 
For a residential customer, that might be just a few dollars a month, Leaper said. 
There would be no direct financial gain for such a customer. However, the customer would know the contribution is helping the school district lower utility costs and that the contribution also is fighting global warming.
Leaper said the few extra dollars per month would be a multi-year commitment, not just a one-year donation. 
"I don't know; that could be a deal-breaker for people," Leaper said. 
On the other hand, it is not necessary for every single utility customer to make such a green contribution, Leaper said. Only a certain percentage would have to donate to the turbine project to make "volunteer green contributions" a feasible idea. 
Leaper said some type of survey would be needed to see if such a plan is viable.None of these options is set in stone, with everything still under study.
Leaper said he is scheduled to report to the Grand Island school board Sept. 11. At that time, he'll likely ask for guidance on his next steps.

~Dedicated to the earth