21 July: Energy to enter 21st century

Energy to enter the 21st century

For preservationists, it should’ve been the ideal moment: a juncture, a crossroads, a moment when the future course is consciously fixed, when history is made, which it was in Clear Creek when the commissioners approved revised utility-scale renewable energy regulations.

The corps of preservationists was not, however, on hand to witness it. Instead, only a handful of opponents, not necessarily resisters to the new age of energy, just their role in it, expressing worries one last time both legitimate and myopic.

In the words of Commissioner Joan Drury, “We took a giant step forward.” Maybe the vote wasn’t a man-on-the-moon leap, but coupled with the results of the countywide survey, it will shape the direction of the county for generations.

“I was comforted by the recent survey numbers,” says Drury, “that show how the majority of the survey respondents support what we have undertaken by approving the revisions to the 1041 Regulations for utility-size wind and solar facilities.”

Indeed, the people have spoken: 51 percent of the 1,739 respondents to the countywide survey support large-scale RE strongly, with 32 percent somewhat, and with that the debate is ended.

For two years, every issue peripherally associated with wind farms has been written about in the Courant, aired on KYGT and voiced in countless meetings; so, despite several insisting they did not receive the questionnaire, the numbers are telling: huge, overwhelming and unalterable in their magnitude.

Only 10 percent strongly oppose moving forward. That’s a minority even in Georgetown, ground zero for anti-wind farm forces.

With Clear Creek poised to stride into the world of 21st-century energy needs, only the merits of the project itself can stop it. The remaining options to opponents are standard-practice death-by-process stalling — read, cultural resource management — and the courts at taxpayer expense, as in the vogue phrase “time to lawyer up.”

“These regulations, in my opinion, are the beginning of the process,” states Drury. “I hope that the outcome of the new regulations is on balance not too permissive and not too onerous.”

Diane Kielty of the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation calls the process “well researched and balanced. Clear Creek County has a great deal of renewable energy resources to cultivate for the larger goal of changing our national energy mix.”

Sitting through this meeting as well as the one on June 23, I have become not only more informed but also blown away by the complexities of the issue, both in terms of creating a document to serve as a guideline — the Planning Department with Fred Rollenhagen leading did yeoman’s work producing a document coming in under 2,000 pages — and the technical specifics of potential wind farms and solar facilities.

Ambient noise, decibel levels and shadow flicker are all addressed thoroughly as well as are provisions for measuring levels of each and methods for resolving complaints that might arise.

“The CCWF,” continues Kielty, “is especially pleased that the BoCC acknowledged their moral responsibility to the wellbeing of the local community as well as its leadership role in contributing to the state and national energy solutions.”

The moral implications cannot be understated. Today marks the third-month anniversary of the Disaster in the Gulf. For 86 days, toxic sludge had been spewing virtually unabated, but at 5,280 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, only denizens of the deep, life most of us learn about in biology class or watching National Geographic, have witnessed up close and personal the immediate destruction of their habitat. Imagine their viewscape that has been permanently altered with no positive outcomes

What has been dispersed throughout the Gulf in solid form, though, is that which would’ve been dispersed throughout the American atmosphere. The statistics about the rate of asthma and other respiratory ailments among American youth living in proximity to refineries in places like Houston are alarming to say the least. Then there are those pesky issues of national security and energy independence.

Clear Creek citizens have resoundingly said they’re tired of breathing noxious fumes and being culpable for continued degradation of their environment, so want what’s best for their country and community.

“For a very long time I have been a proponent of renewable energy,” says Drury. “I consider it a moral responsibility to find and use sustainable energy in our county, our state and our nation. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to do what we can to lessen our carbon footprint.”

Clear, concise, and definitive — I cannot word-smith it better than that.

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