Please get involved and stay informed by showing up at our next meeting (check the calendar on the right sidebar), or contact the Chairman here or sign up at the Vermont Democrats' site. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NRG Founder Addresses Energy Crisis

At a meeting of the Chittenden County Democrats on Tuesday, January 21st, David Blittersdorf, who founded NRG Systems in Hinesburg, spoke about the global energy crisis and the decining ability to sustain our dependence on fossil fuels. His Powerpoint presentation traced the use of fossil fuels and its correlation in the rise of the earth's population. Several points were made:

  • The use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) created better living conditions and higher production rates of food and goods, which in turn supported an exponential increase in the world's population.
  • In 1750 the world population was around 800 million. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution circa 1850, the global population grew from about 1.2 billion people to more than 6 billion.
  • By 2050, at the current exponential rate of growth, the global population would reach 9.5 billion people, which is about the limit of sustainability.
  • The discovery of fossil fuels, which are nature's storage of solar energy captured over a hundred million years, peaked around 1980, i.e., there are fewer and fewer sources available and production capacity is now declining.
  • As fuel prices increase, it is becoming more economically feasible to use less efficient extraction techniques to mine existing "exhausted" sources. However, it is taking more energy to accomplish the extraction.
  • Nuclear energy, while purported to be "clean", i.e. zero carbon emissions, requires a huge amount of energy expenditure to extract, process, and transport the uranium fuel. Furthermore, there is the problem of what to do with the resulting nuclear waste.
  • We have to concentrate on making renewable energy sources a larger part of the energy pie.
  • Wind energy has a much higher energy efficiency than either coal or nuclear (about 40% compared to 35%).
  • Wind energy is reliable. There is at least some energy generation 70% - 90% of the time at good wind sites, and wind turbines are mechanically available 98% of the time.
  • The cost of wind energy is between 5 and 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable to hydro or nuclear power.
  • The Energy Return on Investment (EROI) is very good, between 30 and 80 times over the life of a wind powerplant.

Blittersdorf also said that wind turbine production has a 2-year backlog. Wind turbine manufacturing is an industry well suited to creating jobs in the U.S. because of the high quality requirements for gears and the high cost of shipping if they were to be manufactured overseas. He concluded that we need to re-orient our energy economy toward renewable and clean energy sources such as hydro and wind power. On an individual level, good insulation and solar hot water panels are probably the most cost-effective energy investments for homeowners, and are subsidized by federal and state tax credits.

At the beginning of the meeting Chairman Mike Yantachka also reviewed the proposed budget for the Chittenden County Democratic Committee and announced a Jefferson-Jackson fundraising event that will be held on March 28th. Gov. Madeleine Kunin will headline the event and talk about her new book, which will hit bookstores in March.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chittenden County Democrats Show Comes to LCATV

Lake Champlain Access Television (LCATV), broadcasting to Colchester, Milton and Georgia (Franklin Co.), is now broadcasting CCTV's "Chittenden County Democrats" show, hosted by Senator Jim Condos and Chittenden County Democratic Chair Mike Yantachka. This month's program features an engaging interview with Vermont's Attorney General Bill Sorrell (recorded 1/7) and will air this week in at the following times:
Monday, 1/14: 5pm; 11pm
Thursday, 1/17: 4am
Saturday, 1/19: 12am, 11am