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Power To The People. September 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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4 comments

I’m a big fan of renewable energy, a believer in climate change as a byproduct of human activity, and a charter member of the Small Is Beautiful school of going forward into the future.

Hey, I’m little, what can I say?

Anyway, my town hosts the Berkshire East ski area. It’s about the main thing happening here in winter, we being without a large tax base, and they recently erected a wind turbine which sits across the river and up the hill from my house, and purportedly generates enough power to account for the entire B’East operation.

As a guy who spent a long winter making snow at said enterprise, I can attest to the amount of power involved in a snow making operation – pumping a lake’s worth of water to the top of that mountain every night, then blowing it through airplane props at high psi’s, and with high voltage lines powering it all. It’s a much longer story than that, but that’s what’s relevant to tonight’s post.

Berkshire East has a new project going up on their mountaintop, parked perilously at the line dividing Charlemont from the town of Hawley. I’m sure its location makes things politically messy, but I hope it navigates those shoals to form a more perfect union of form and function and of local entities taking care of their own needs.

The solar farm being built atop Mount Institute:

The Berkshire East wind turbine is visible above the notch in the trees near the right edge of this photo.

This is a major commitment of previously forested land to local production of energy, and doesn’t fall below my radar of environmental impact. But if you’ve seen real life images from “mountaintop removal” mining in West Virginia, this is definitely the kid-glove version of power production.

Plus, it’s local, meaning that energy doesn’t have to be transmitted from a great distance at a considerable loss.

I know, I’ve barely scratched the surface in talking about this incredibly complex problem, but I’m leaning hard toward local production of power, and on a scale which doesn’t necessitate the involvement of mega-national corporations, though the big players do indeed weasel their bad selves into these local projects.

At any rate, I’m a firm believer in doing things locally in so far as they’re practical, and not taking Corporate America’s appraisal of the situation at face value. Whenever we’re told that something “can’t be done like that, not on that scale,” we should identify the source of that viewpoint and be aware of how such statements serve their financial interests.

And when there are things which benefit us all and can’t be done on a small scale, I posit that We The People ought to pool our resources through the mechanism of Government to do them collectively.

It isn’t Socialism, folks – it’s civilization.

Gone Local! January 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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7 comments

The hill across the river from our place hosts a ski area (just around the corner from our view of the mountain) and, as of late, a wind turbine!

I think it’s pretty cool, having home-grown power rather than busing it in through countless miles of powerline clearings, and without creating pollutants.

I know, “They kill birds!”

Nukes kill fish, and by the tens of thousands.

“They make noise!!”

So does mountaintop removal mining, while it “removes” the entire mountain and fills in the surrounding valleys with toxic tailings.

I went up the back of the mountain the other day to see how close  I could get – I’d heard they had closed the gate on the access road at one point, and didn’t have time for a long walk, so I was hoping to get close enough to at least see the thing up close.

Turned out they’d opened the road again but hadn’t plowed it – it was being used as a snowmobile track!  But there were truck tire marks all the way, so I followed them until…

There!  The road was clear all the way.

I got out and set up my tripod, making myself narrow to let a gaggle of sledders pass, then took this long-ish shot to get the motion of the majestically spinning blades.

These things are big

That left-hand green electrical cabinet was taller than me (alright, no wise cracks!  😉 )

The view to the east was nice, and might make for a good sunrise shot:

If you knew where to look you could see our house in the valley bottom, just between the rocks.

Damn,  that’s big!

…And by the way, it was all but silent, though I understand they can get louder when the wind picks up.

All of these shots are basically straight out of the box – I didn’t feel like staying up tonight, as 5 o’clock is going to come early tomorrow!

G’night now.