Monday, August 04, 2008

The Rebel Without a Party

Why I left the Republican Party and am endorsing a Democrat and how we can solve our rising energy costs.

Teddy Roosevelt once said that the Republican Party should be the “party of the plain people,” not “the party of the privileged and special interests.” Unfortunately today our State Republican Party has forgotten that. All too often they go gunning for the citizens of our State who are less fortunate then turn around and give to the privileged and special interests. The Republican administration that currently occupies the Governor’s office has brought Rhode Island cronyism to a whole new level. This has brought dishonor to the Republican Party and has set the party back decades.

I used to be a Carcieri supporter. It wasn’t until fall of last year that my eyes were fully opened about how bad the situation in his administration truly was. As many of you know I am the President of Rhode Island Alliance For Clean Energy. The Alliance, which I am a leader of, believes that we desperately need solutions to our rapidly growing energy bills. However the Governor’s plan will simply trade one multibillion dollar energy company for another and will actually increase our rates all in the name of being green and saving the environment, when in fact it will do nothing to save the environment. Most wind farm companies are owned by even larger fossil fuel companies who simply use these wind farms as tax write offs. They do not care about the fishing, lobstering, yachting economies, which they will adversely affect. They do not lose a wink of sleep over the health effects, which these large industrial turbines will have on the citizens in the surrounding areas. What they will be doing is laughing all the way to the bank with hundreds of millions of our hard earned dollars and in the end will we see our energy bills go down? No. In the end will we see one polluting power plant closed down such as Brayton Point? No. Will we see our historic pristine coastline permanently ruined for generations to come? Yes.

There are severe ramifications as are pointed out on the Alliance’s web site if these offshore wind farms are instituted. Some people may label me a NIMBY. So be it. A wise man once said, “what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.” I think it is a huge mistake not to question the authority, which intends to lead this State. The Carcieri administration intends to lead the citizens astray with this flawed energy policy. It is the right of the citizens to want to protect the land, the community and the State, which they love and reside in.

The technological advances over the past couple of years and months in the area of green energy have been absolutely astounding! This can easily be compared to the computer technology and what transpired with that. Decades ago a computer would take up a whole room, now you can own your own personal PC at an affordable price. The same thing is happening with green technology only we will not have to wait decades for this to happen. It is happening now!

Now these very same computer and semiconductor companies, such as IBM, Intel and National Semiconductor which made computers exponentially faster and more efficient, are now rushing into the solar power business and are promising to turn it into a mass-market product, which is affordable to the average consumer. Long gone will be the days where one has to spend tens of thousands of dollars for solar energy on top of their roof. These companies with the brand new technology, which they have developed, will be able to deliver solar energy at prices competitive with grid power within the next few years.

Another unbelievably remarkable solar break through in April of this year happened in Israel. Scientists at the University of Tel Aviv have found a way to construct efficient photovoltaic cells costing at least a hundred times less than conventional silicon based devices, and with 25% energy conversion efficiency! An advance of this nature would mean that a residential solar installation, which today would cost at least $20,000 would now be vastly more affordable to the average homeowner costing around $200.

Areas around the world which have far less sunny days than Rhode Island has, such as Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom have seen the potential for solar and have begun to move away from large industrial sized wind turbines.

An inventor named Graeme Attey from Australia has invented a residential roof top wind turbine which they are starting to utilize in Australia which costs the average homeowner $700! That is only 10% of the total cost of what roof top wind turbines go for now in the United States. His design would allow citizens to utilize wind even if they are in an inner city and needs little wind to operate so people that are away from the ocean such as in areas like Pawtucket, Providence, Cumberland for example would be able to utilize the wind and see direct savings on their energy bills and not burn a hole in their wallets trying to purchase these devices.

The Governor’s plan calls for offshore large industrial wind turbines, which are the size of the towers on the Newport Bridge (400 feet tall). These wind farms in most cases are ¼ to ½ miles off the shoreline. Every single wind turbine will be pile driven 90 feet into the seabed, which will cause an excruciating noise, which can be heard for miles. There will be at a minimum 105 offshore large industrial wind turbines that will have fog horns and red flashing lights on them which can be seen and heard for miles. To make matters worse oil platforms will be built to house more than 100,000 gallons of potentially hazardous lubrication oil which if anything God forbid happens to these oil platforms that oil will make it to our shoreline within minutes. Often these so called experts say they are built to withstand a 100-year storm. I think Hurricane Katrina proved them wrong as that hurricane took out oilrigs like a bowling ball knocking over pins. Every single potential location that has been chosen by the Carcieri Administration is off a prime tourist destination (Westerly, Newport, Middletown, Little Compton & Block Island). These are all prime tourist destinations that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars into the State’s tourist, fishing, lobstering and yachting economies every year.

The price tag for this act of stupidity is $1.9 Billion. The average life of industrial wind turbines is only 20 years before they become unusable and sit off our shores as a rust farm that will become yet another failed public policy by the Governor’s office.

The Governor wants to provide 15% of our State’s energy from wind. If the new revolutionized small roof top wind turbines were utilized at $700 each and 67,000 households (15% of Rhode Island households) had the devices on top of their roofs we would be able to reduce energy and electricity costs for roughly $47 Million by utilizing wind.

So what about the remaining 382,000 households? One of the many ideas could be that 382,000 households could have solar panels on top of their homes for about $76 Million if the new solar technology is utilized.

The total cost of these two plans combined is approximately $123 Million (or only 6% of what the Carcieri offshore windfarm plan costs), which is almost $1.8 Billion less than Carcieri’s plan and actually gives homeowners direct control over their energy future and gives them direct savings whereas with the Governor’s plan the control will still lie with the people who have been raising your utility rates year after year.

We could bring this plan into fruition by first working with the companies and universities that are developing this technology. Most of this technology is here today and just needs to be implemented to the mass population of our State. Secondly we could give incentives to companies such as IBM, Intel and National Semiconductor if they locate their green energy manufacturing divisions here to our State. This will be a win/win situation for the companies who would have a business friendly environment to manufacture their product in and it would be a winning situation for Rhode Islanders who could get thousands of great paying jobs. This would revitalize the manufacturing sector and bring it to new heights that it has not seen in decades and bring us out of the recession that our State is in. Third we could give the homeowner tax incentives if they make the switch to these devices. That way the State would not have to pick up the tab in actually paying for the project with money that we clearly don’t have because we have more than a $450 million deficit.

We could also do the same thing with the small roof top wind turbine sector. Some businesses are producing small roof top wind turbines in Rhode Island already but at a much more costly price to the consumer. If these businesses worked with inventors such as Graeme Attey and teamed up with them these significantly less expensive small roof top wind turbine products could be seen on a much more massive scale in Rhode Island and across this country.

Rhode Island could lead the way in individual energy independence and this very plan would also give residents and businesses their own energy independence from both foreign and domestic energy companies that keep increasing their rates year after year. These are just a couple of ways out of many that we can get on the road to total individual energy independence without harming our environment, economy, health or way of life. I think Robert Kennedy said it best, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why…I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”. The dreams of yesterday have now evolved into the reality of today and tomorrow in the green energy sector and what no one could of imagined once possible will now allow us to truly have individual energy independence. It is up to us to make sure that our voices are heard at the State House.

After finding out how much misinformation the Carcieri administration was telling the public regarding their energy policy and the significant harm which it would cause the community I live in and the State as a whole I decided to resign as Chairman of the Newport Republican City Committee and to withdraw as a Republican and become unaffiliated. I then formed the Rhode Island Alliance For Clean Energy with three other Aquidneck Island residents and in just four short months since we went public with all our information, we have grown to over 900 members that come from all walks of life and backgrounds and from across the State but mainly in the areas which would be affected by an offshore wind farm such as Newport, Middletown, Little Compton, Westerly and Block Island.

I will not stand with a State Republican Party which has been led astray by an administration which through its very actions regarding this very dangerous and flawed energy policy will harm thousands of individuals’ livelihoods whether these citizens realize it or not. It was my decision and my decision alone to leave the party. No one told me to or forced me to withdraw from the party and the buck stops with me. I am in no way a Democrat however but an independent who does not belong to any political party. If one must put a political label on me I would be considered a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. An individual with beliefs of what the Republican Party used to be and used to stand for.

I am supporting a Democrat this year for Newport’s House 75 seat, which is the same seat, I myself ran for back in 2002 as a Republican. The reason I support Peter Martin is not because of what party he is but because of what he represents. He is an independent thinking individual. He is a man of great character and sincerity who will not go along with the rest of the politicians at the State House if he feels and believes in his heart they are doing something wrong. Honesty and Integrity are two things, which Peter lives by. He has a great love for the city and his tremendous civic dedication shows that. He studies all the issues before making decisions. Peter is a statesman and not a politician. This is a good thing because a Statesman thinks about the next generation, a politician thinks about the next election. I feel that the other guy running for State Representative unfortunately promotes too much of Carcieri’s failed policies. I will support any other individuals running for any other office regardless of their political party who possess the same attributes that Peter Martin does. It is a clear choice for me this election cycle. Peter Martin for District #75 State Representative.
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