Monday, February 25, 2008

A Penny for Your Thoughts

A number of opinion pieces on the coal plant have run recently, including this one from Sunday's Florence Morning News:

Decisions made today affect economic growth

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 - 04:00 AM
By Responsible Economic Development Board of Directors

The Pee Dee needs economic development.Our local work force needs jobs, our children need education, our homes need electricity, and our businesses need opportunity.

The decisions that we make today, however, will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren, our natural and urban landscape, and the economic growth and development of our region. Investing in a coal fired power plant is not good for the Pee Dee.

Energy conservation and renewables are the cleaner, safer, cheaper and more responsible way to meet our energy needs. Energy conservation, or efficiency, is the practice of saving energy by switching to CFC or LED light bulbs, making homes that are energy efficient, conducting energy audits, and installing Energy Star power saving products.

Renewable means energy produced by a natural resource that comes from an endless or repeating source like: the sun, wind, water or plants (biomass). According to a study done by the Tellus Institute, the net job impact of investing in both renewable power and energy efficiency in South Carolina would result in 11,500 jobs by 2010 and 20,000 new jobs in 2020. These jobs would be spread across all sectors of the community, including: construction, agriculture, transportation, motor vehicles, manufacturing and services. In short, investment in energy efficiency and renewables will create many more jobs than a highly automated and technical coal plant.

Fortunately, South Carolina has huge energy conservation potential. According to a recent study done by the Electric Cooperatives, modest efficiency investments would generate 980 megawatts of electricity in the next decade.

Additionally, our state’s renewable energy resources, including biomass and small hydro, would realize another 655 megawatts of electricity. The combination of these programs would generate more than 200 megawatts more than Santee Cooper’s proposed plant.

Opting for green energy over coal power has the added benefit of being an environmentally sound economic decision. Coal-fired plants are responsible for producing large amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and mercury into the air that we breathe and the water that we drink.

Mercury, a coal plant emission, is a poison that causes severe mental retardation in children, stunts brain development and causes cerebral palsy in newborns. It takes only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury to contaminate 20 acres of fresh water.

The proposed Santee Cooper coal fired power plant is projected to release 138 pounds of mercury every year, for 50 years. Our local rivers and streams already have severe mercury advisories.

Particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide (C02) are also coal plant emissions that are extremely harmful to children and the elderly. These poisons are known to cause asthma, respiratory distress, heart attacks and lung cancer.

Our community needs economic development. But we need energy sources that do not destroy our fish and wildlife communities or threaten the health of our families, friends and neighbors.

The Board of Responsible Economic Development (RED) strongly supports the implementation of energy alternatives, such as energy efficiency and renewables.

Read a response opinion by the Chairman of the Board of Santee Cooper. Not surprisingly, it trots out all the old and discredited arguments that the coal plant is a good thing.

Finally, a piece by Dan Abel, a marine scientists at Coastal Carolina University -- it suggests that we can expect indepth coverage of the coal debate in future editions of the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

1 comment:

batticdoor said...

How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills.

Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Attic Stairs

When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.

Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.

Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

Whole House Fans and AC Returns

Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.

If attic access is inconvenient, or for AC returns, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter and AC return. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed.


Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers.

Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent.

A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? Hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.

Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit