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Thinking Outside of the Energy Box

Dear Source:
I was one of the twenty protesters at the PSC meeting with WAPA the night rates were raised 22.9%. During a break in the proceedings, I talked with Mr. Hodge, head of WAPA. I tried explaining to him that the pursuit of alternative energy is the only real way out of WAPA's problems. When I suggested solar energy, he told me "Sweetheart, you don't understand," and said an island presents a problem. Apparently, having a small "footprint" for solar energy is not a problem for eSolar. I found the following on the Internet:
"Southern California Edison Contracts with eSolar for Solar Power Tower ROSEMEAD, Calif., Jun 03, 2008 — BUSINESS WIRE Southern California Edison (SCE) today signed a contract to procure an additional 245 megawatts of solar power for its customers with Pasadena, Calif.-based eSolar in the nation's first commercial effort using power tower solar thermal technology. The project, which will be built in the Lancaster area of California, is expected to begin delivering energy in 2011, with a total of 105 megawatts of renewable solar power by 2012, ramping up to 245 megawatts by 2013. SCE is currently the nation's leading purchaser of solar energy, buying more than 90 percent of U.S. production. "Solar is the great untapped energy resource for California — it's renewable and plentiful," said Stuart Hemphill, SCE vice president, Renewable and Alternative Power. "We rely on innovative companies such as eSolar to help expand our industry-leading portfolio and to secure access to the most promising technology solutions." About the technology Each pre-fabricated module consists of several solar towers each associated with thousands of heliostats, or mirrors. The mirrors precisely track the sun over the course of the day and reflect light to a receiver at the top of each tower. The concentrated light boils water in a central receiver, routing the steam to a traditional turbine to produce electricity. eSolar's solar thermal technology is unique in that it uses shorter towers, small mass-manufactured mirrors and advanced tracking software, achieving economies of scale within a minimal footprint and easy connection to transmission lines. SCE leads the nation in renewable. SCE buys for its customers more than 90 percent of all solar energy produced. In 2007, the utility procured about 12.5 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, more than any other utility or state. Renewable energy comprises about 16 percent of SCE's total energy Southern California Edison Contracts with eSolar for Solar Tower Power portfolio. SCE currently has sufficient contracts in place that, when delivering, will meet 20 percent or more of its customers' energy needs with renewable energy. The current portfolio includes: — 1,025 megawatts from wind. — 906 megawatts from geothermal. — 354 megawatts from solar. — 174 megawatts from biomass. — 226 megawatts from small hydro. For more about SCE's renewable energy program, visit www.sce.com/renewables. For information on eSolar, visit www.esolar.com . An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is the largest electric utility in California, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California."
I hope Mr. Hodge and the PSC read this and start thinking. I told Mr. Hodge that I believe if governments start contracting for solar energy, the sheer volume will cause the price of conversion to solar come down dramatically. That happened with computer chips. Until conversion costs come down, we individual home owners just can't afford to install these systems ourselves. Surely, there are federal grants available for such undertakings. The territory's leaders have to start thinking "outside the box" or there won't be many people left in the box to buy power.

Dena Langdon
St. Thomas

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