Power to the People

| December 20, 2002

Greg Watson and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust have the job of allocating $140 million to develop renewable energy technology for Massachusetts and New England. The green energy options are plenty, but the problem lies in educating people about the current green energy alternatives and how to start reaping their benefits. Some of the programs they’re most excited about are regional microgrids and consumer aggregations (energy co-ops). This is an opportunity for a large group of people to use their collective purchasing power to find the lowest price for energy in the market. Watson and his organization stress the fact that there are alternatives to relying on fossil fuels and nuclear energy and that very soon we should expect to harvest energy from multiple green sources from within our own homes and communities.

“It’s the same ecological issue--diversity,” says Watson. “We don’t want to become overly dependant on any single source.” This diversity will come in the form of solar power, wind farms, and fuel cells--batteries that combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce water and energy. Off-shore wind power is a major focus for Massachusetts right now because 170 wind turbines are being built off the coast of Cape Cod. The turbines have the combined capacity to produce 420 megawatts, about the same yield as a small coal-fired plant. Some Cape Cod residents worry about the unsightliness of the turbines, but most agree that global warming produced by our current energy sources could be a far greater burden.
--Nick Garafola

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