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Mosler's Ideas on Energy Are Important

Dear Source:
I am writing as a Virgin Islands resident and licensed engineer to comment on a proposal advanced by Warren Mosler, Candidate for Delegate to Congress, regarding alternative sources of energy for our islands. Much of my forty-year engineering career has been devoted to the improvement of the combustion, air pollution control and residue management systems for projects which utilize alternative fuels, such as municipal waste, tires, sludges, etc., to generate energy.
Since Mr. Mosler has chosen to put so much personal time and effort into running for public office, many may question his sanity. So, I thought it essential to speak out strongly in favor of a well thought out alternative energy proposal he has recently advanced. The proposal demonstrates an understanding of the economics of energy generation and management, as well as the potential environmental issues associated with solid fuel energy generation. When Mr. Mosler suggests that this plan could cut our energy costs in half, he is being conservative. When he suggests that the environmental concerns formerly associated with the combustion of petroleum coke have been addresses and solved, he is correct.
The petroleum coke produced at the Hovensa refinery was initially considered a waste product and, because of its relatively high sulfur content and relatively high thermal energy potential, there was legitimate concern that it might be burned to provide energy for the refinery. In the past 15 years, the technological advances made in thermal conversion systems and air pollution control technology have demonstrated that solid fuels can be efficiently burned to generate energy with less air emissions than oil fired power plants. Materials formerly considered waste (including municipal waste, tires and petroleum coke) are now being utilized for energy production in Europe, Asia and the United States, realizing cost savings and air emissions reductions. We have an opportunity that few islands have – to utilize wastes and by-products to replace oil as our source of energy and stabilize our energy costs at less than half of today's prices.
As I have been told, Hovensa originally had to pay to dispose of its petroleum coke. Now, it is considered a fuel and Hovensa is being paid for it. As time passes, and others attempt to reduce their energy costs, this by-product of the refining operation will undoubtedly become more valuable and the opportunity identified by Mr. Mosler will be gone.
I have read of a planned expansion of the Hovensa refinery, which will mean greater energy demands at that high quality facility. Additionally, as our population grows and our standard of living improves, our demand for energy will also grow. Though there are many issues to be addressed in any attempt to implement Mr. Mosler's energy plan, it would be unfortunate for our government or our business community to ignore this opportunity while it is available.
General Electric has developed sound technology to convert petroleum coke to energy at the large scale Mr. Mosler suggests, and I believe this concept would make sense and be attractive to Hovensa. I also am certain that it could result in a net reduction in air emissions for St. Croix. What an economic boost this proposal could be for the Territory and wouldn't we all welcome a decrease in our electric bills?
This is too good an idea to be treated as campaign fodder. I would encourage Mr. Mosler, if his ambitions for improving our local society from inside the government are not realized in the coming election, to advance this idea from the private sector with the new government (which I hope as we go to the polls next week will be less corrupt and more receptive to creative thinking and good resource utilization). Our Territory needs to recognize and utilize all of our resources wisely — that includes our waste and our human talent. Mr. Mosler is a great resource and, whether or not we see fit to punish or reward him with election to public office, we should encourage the advancement of his sound energy proposal.
Patrick F. Mahoney
Kinghill, V.I.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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