Brandon writes: Bringing the good energy home…and carrying it back again.

As a student in the Environmental Management department I have taken ENVR E-102 and now I am taking ENVR E-101. Because one is offered only in the spring and the other only fall semester I took them in reverse order, and if you were thinking to do the same I can assure you it’s perfectly fine.  In E-102 we were assigned to do an energy audit, in which you would tally up all your home electrical usage and make suggestions for ways to better use and conserve electricity. Now in E-101 we have been assigned to do a water audit in the same fashion. After completing the water audit I was reminded of my E-102 energy paper and was moved to make a step toward improving the electrical usage in my new apartment in Medford, Massachusetts. I looked up the National Grid website, the local power supplier I had just signed on with as a new customer the month before, found the list of renewable energy providers under the “Green up” category and proceeded to call each of the three on the list for pricing. The first and third were not open on that day but the second, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, went through and I was soon speaking with a knowledgeable representative named Kate Bogart. Regardless of your belief system it does seem that some things are just meant to be, and for me, getting through on the phone to only this particular renewable power provider seemed like one of those moments.

Medford Turbine projected aided by Mass Energy Consumers Alliance

Allow me to explain. Off in the distance in the view out my apartment windows I can see a large white wind turbine spinning slowly in the breeze. I watched it turn as Kate told me over the phone about the source of the power provided by Mass Energy, which was 100% renewable, achieved with a mix of 25% wind, solar and biomass and 75% low impact hydroelectric, all of which is local. When she said local it queued me to ask if she knew anything about this turbine in my sight, and low and behold she did, she knew all about it, in fact it was her company who helped make the turbine project possible. It turns out it is located behind the local school and is now used to power the school and the surrounding neighborhood as well as provide an excellent educational tool woven into many of the disciplines. Check out this short beautiful video clip covering the opening ceremony; the student speakers are the best. So I was already sold on signing up but how much was it going to cost? Well the exact number is 2.4 cents per kilowatt, which works out to roughly $12 more a month on my electrical bill. In one way it sounds like a lot since I am a student scraping by financially but on the other hand it should not even be an option when you sign up for power. Renewable should be mandatory and thus this would not be a choice for me but rather the only right option and relatively cheap considering what I spend on other luxuries like organic groceries and such. Better still, since The Mass Energy Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit the increased expense is tax deductible, so it is completely a win-win situation.

And the energy story continues one step further. A few weeks ago after Professor Weiskel’s class, Environmental Ethics and Land Management (which I highly recommend), I was amazed to see he rides a bicycle home from school; amazed because this is a man who shows up to class looking truly dapper, with perfectly coifed pearl white hair and a blue suit complete with red pocket square, and then he jumps on an old English style bicycle and rides home with helmet and flashing red lights to match. The weather was mild on that day so I imagined this was a fair weather activity but to my surprise he said he could ride year round and misses only a week or so of heavy weather days. If he can pull off a performance like that, then there is no excuse for me not to ride my bike to school, and that is just what I have been doing, pedaling 4 miles to school, and back again, while loving every chest thumping, air gasping, deadly steep hill climbing minute of it!

So, wherever you are in the world, please call and sign up with your local renewable energy provider and then dust off your bicycle and use some of your renewable energy for tomorrow’s daily commute. And ride with a touch of style like professor Weiskel, so you can be the envy of all the motorists stuck in traffic as you roll on by.

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