Spring 2011 Correspondence

Utilities are the rats

Regarding your article “The Meter is Running” (Winter ’11), the only rats hiding under the rocks are the electric utility companies who refuse to buy meaningful amounts of clean, renewable energy and the regulatory agencies who won’t require them to do so.

Business as usual is simply not acceptable with our air quality deteriorating and our climate changing at an alarming pace. The utilities were given monopoly status to provide core services to the public, not to stand in the way of the public good. In my opinion, the first priority of the policymakers, regulators, and the regulated utilities should be to stop polluting our world by burning fossil fuels, admit the real cost of these polluting sources of energy, and give clean renewable energy at least the same treatment in terms of subsidization and incentives. Absent the hidden subsidies we as taxpayers and ratepayers bear to support the coal, oil, gas, and nuclear industries, making energy from renewable sources like wind and solar is far less expensive.

A report funded by Congress and released in October 2009 concluded that $120 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industries is not reflected in the price of electricity and gasoline. This figure does not include the price of damage associated with climate change, harm to the ecosystem, the health effects from toxic air pollutants such as mercury, and the added military costs related to our protection of fossil fuel producing countries.  

For every $1 spent on governmental support for emerging clean renewable energy technologies, the fossil fuel guys get $5 of pork. Transferring those subsidies from dirty to clean energy would put the price of renewable energy well below the cost of fossil fuel-fired energy. And what if we no longer needed to throw away all the money that goes to energy-related military encounters—or shall we call it “protection of our oil addiction”—to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Last, but far from least, is local job creation. These clean energy projects are homegrown, keep the money in the local economy, benefit communities with new revenues, and become a source of great community pride. We send over $360 billion a year to the Middle East to support our addiction to fossil fuels. If Massachusetts picks up a fiftieth of that cost, that’s over $7 billion out of our pockets every year. How many jobs do you think $7 billion would create? A lot.

I for one am proud of what we are doing in Kingston and other towns in Massachusetts where enlightened local and state officials have teamed up to promote a clean energy future. We should be pushing for more clean energy development instead of promoting the bloated, polluting, fossil fuel-based economy we know has been degrading our quality of life and sucking money out of our pockets for years.

Mary O’Donnell
Kingston

Net metering unfair

Somebody needs to tell Mary O’Don­nell that electricity is not produced with oil, foreign or otherwise. It is produced with hydropower, nu­clear power, natural gas, and coal.

This deal is simply a way for Kings­ton to get its bills paid by the residents of all the other towns. Is that fair?

Rhode Island has the same controversy with “net metering.” See a video report on the controversy at hummelreport.com. The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities believes that federal law trumps state laws on energy, so this deal is probably illegal.

Benjamin C. Riggs
Newport, Rhode Island

Winn’s nice return

The most interesting thing to me about Paul McMorrow’s impressive article (“Money Talks—and Delivers,” Winter ’11) is the ratio between the spending by WinnCompanies and the government benefits they receive. After spending $2 million on campaign contributions and lobbying, the firm receives $62 million. Thirty bucks for investing one. Who wouldn’t like that deal? Except, of course, for the taxpayers, who provide the $62 million.

Sue Bass
Belmont

What did Helen Cadden do wrong?

A Son Seeks Answers” (Winter ’11) raises important questions. How is it possible that the State Police blame Helen Cadden for the accident that ended her life?

The sign on the street said “State Law: Yield for Pedestrians in Cross­walk.” Evelyn Pursley failed to obey this law. What difference does it make at what speed Mrs. Cadden was walking? I am often a pedestrian at such crossings. I welcome them. I value them. And I trust them. Like most people, I cross as rapidly as I can. But some people may not be as agile and quick as others, so motorists may have to wait a few seconds longer.

After a careful reading of the article, I still do not understand exactly what, in the opinion of the police, Mrs. Cadden did wrong. My faith in the law has been shaken, and I will proceed with less confidence and extreme caution.

Alan Emmet
Westford

High mark for principal

Regarding “Grade Expectations” (Winter ’11), Dr. Szachowicz’s grade as principal at Brockton High School on this most challenging assignment: A+!

Dr. Charles L. Mitsakos
Chelmsford,
Professor Emeritus of Education, Rivier College

Perspective despicable

The Perspective piece “A call to reason” (Winter ’11) is despicable. So

we stop lobbying for harsher penalties for sex offenders because they’re not your textbook ski mask type? That’s ridiculous. As a victim of sexual abuse myself, I find this child rapist-sympathizing article absurd. Offend­ers should be put on the spot and they should be made to feel guilty and ashamed by their disgraceful actions.  

Scott Moore
Pittsfield

Gift from God

MAP class 54 (“MAP Shows the Way,” What Works, Winter ’11) changed my entire life. St. Francis House is a true gift from God.

Steven Gilboard
Boston