Opinion

Greener or safer | Editorial

We applaud the city’s move toward conservation and sustainability. But the City Council’s vote to join PSE’s green power program — by sending PSE extra dollars based on the city’s energy bill — has us thinking about how we would spend that money.

But first, what is the Green Power program? It is a way that individual cities, businesses or individuals can donate money to help promote the development of renewable power. If our nation’s power consumption were less dependent on thermal power, we would all be better off.

However, in terms of being viable sources of power for huge utility systems of the likes of PSE, renewable power resources are in their infancy. The miniscule amount of energy they produce is hugely expensive. There must be financial incentives, better technology and economies of scale in place to encourage real investment in green energy — not just hopes and wishing. Voluntary Green Power programs will not bring in enough money to do so.

This was not PSE’s idea. They do not make money on this program. The company is required by law to administer it and to increase the amount of sustainable power resources they use. Ordinarily, they would not purchase electricity from these tiny suppliers because they do not pencil out; for their owners or their customers.

Yet, the Mercer Island City Council has decided that the city will lead by example, step up and invest in this fledgling power initiative by using city dollars.

At the same time, there will not be any lifeguards at Groveland Beach because of budget cuts. The $6,000 that the city will spend through the Green Power program is the equivalent of two part-time lifeguards.

Can the city find other dollars to do both? Probably. Let’s encourage them to do so. Maybe they forgot about lifeguards. It is easy to do in our endless rainy season.

We are all for a cleaner environment. But we think keeping swimmers safe at our lakefront parks and hiring Island youth for summer jobs comes first.

 

Community Events, April 2014

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