Several months ago, while driving my son to daycare, I spotted a fund-raising graphic on the lawn of my town hall, with the title Solarize Simsbury. “That’s cool” I thought, but that was that, and I drove on.
I consider myself an environmentally sound person. I recycle. I bring reused bags to the grocery store. I plant trees. I always look for Energy Star appliances and home conservation methods, but honestly I never really thought much about alternative energy until I watched a TV show called The Cosmos that really opened my eyes.
For those of you that have never seen either series, The Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (produced in 1978 and hosted by Carl Sagan) and the more recent version The Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (produced in 2014 and hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson) are both mini-series that talk about problem-solving earthly issues through the lens of science.
The episode I watched was called A World Set Free and really helped spell out the issues we are starting to face with the evident changes in our lands and oceans. There you go, raising an eyebrow now and thinking, “What about that really cold winter we had this year?” Or, “how could there be a global warming problem if we have had a pretty mild summer so far?” I know, I thought the same thing before I watched this show, but watch this clip from The Cosmos and see the difference between weather and climate change.
Interesting, huh? They then talked about how carbon dioxide gas will keep trapped heat from the sun in the atmosphere which, in turn, will make the temperatures rise on Earth. We may not see it in our lifetime, but our kids and grandchildren, definitely will. This next map you must watch in motion. It depicts the data collected on recorded temperatures from weather stations, since 1880’s, from all over the world. The data has been placed in a map animation, designed by NASA, and I feel is a little alarming. Notice the change in temperature from the year 1990 and onward. What do you think?
This past weekend my son and I went to the Valley Collector Charity Car Show in Simsbury. Nathanael did a really good job of keeping his hands off the beautiful antique cars, and then we came to one that allowed us to sit in it. My son was so excited! I then backed up to take a picture, and low in behold, there was the sign again! Solarize Simsbury. I took this picture…
I then took an information packet on this program home with me. It is a program to install solar paneling for a discounted price. We are surrounded by trees so it wouldn’t work out for us too well, but I put in a call to see if there is a community-based solar power option, where we can obtain the clean energy source, elsewhere. Becky, a family friend of mine, had recently posted on Facebook about her home-built solar panel success in Manchester, CT. I chatted with her more in depth on the process, and she explained that, “Our town of Manchester was the one that proposed and supported this program. We didn’t have to pay any permit fees and our property taxes will not go up. We will receive state and federal rebates. All we needed was 50 houses (which includes my parents – give it up for mom and dad, everyone!) to get the best deal and we were able to surpass the goal. We have to pay a monthly fee to the electric company, but they maintain the lines in and out of the house. When we overproduce power it will come off the $16/ month fee. It’s not perfect but it does guarantee power and repair at all times. The other day CL&P came and put in our two way meter and just a few minutes ago our panels were turned on! So exciting to see us producing electricity!”
That is awesome, Becky!
Solarization is just one of many alternative energy mass program options that are becoming available in the Northeast. When we traveled to Rhode Island, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the wind turbines that had been placed up in Providence. After doing some research, I found out that it is the beginnings of an off-shore wind power program that Rhode Island and Massachusetts are spear-heading. This program has the potential of “generating as much as 16,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more then 5 million homes,” a direct quote taken from the Providence Journal. Geothermal energy is also gaining speed here in the US. My brother told me he had done some work on geothermal drilling with a company he used to work for. Stated on the Connecticut Geothermal Association website, “geothermal heating and cooling systems use 40-60% less energy than conventional systems.” To put it simply, that is 40-60% less money you are spending on your heating and cooling bills year round (wink and smiley face). The Connecticut Geothermal Association is also a proud partner of the Habitat For Humanity. Its members are donating materials, equipment and labor to install a geothermal system in the newest Habitat For Humanity’s home!
I’m not a holy roller on “getting off the grid” or anything, but I am a concerned mom for my son’s safety, and his future. The end of the show said it best, by stating, “It all depends on what we truly value, and if we can summon the will, to act.” Well put, Neil, well put. I will do what I can to help ensure that my kids have — a cooler future.
Here are the references of this post. If you are further interested in these programs please read up on the following resources, and I highly urge you to watch the full episode of The Cosmos A World Set Free that is also in a link, below.
Solarize Connecticut Mass Solarization Project – Website
The Shared Renewal or Community Solar Option – Resource
The Rhode Island and Massachusetts Off-shore Wind Power – Source Article
The Connecticut Geothermal Association – Website
The Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – A World Set Free Full Episode
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