Tidal power, not natural gas line, would better serve Homer, state


fter much thought, I have decided to register my objection to the City’s Natural Gas Distribution System Special Assessment District.  Based on strong scientific evidence regarding the impacts of burning fossil fuels on climate change and ocean acidification, I believe that investing in a natural gas distribution system is the wrong type of energy infrastructure for the city to be investing in now.  

If you want to object you do have to file your vote of objection with the city by Jan. 25, 2013, or your vote automatically counts as a non-objection.

First, the gas industry indicates that soon there will be a shortage of gas.  If so, it makes me wonder how much the price of gas will increase once we are hooked on gas. Does Enstar even have a secured gas supply contract for the Lower Kenai Peninsula or will gas go somewhere else like Anchorage for a higher price? Why pay for this distribution system if gas contracts are not secure?  

I am also skeptical of the supposed savings to users given the need to put in a personal line to buildings, retrofit appliances and pay other possible costs on top of the assessment for each parcel owned.

Second, we are fooling ourselves if we think gas is really cleaner if the full cycle of production is considered. Drilling for gas is energy intensive, particularly if fracking is involved. There are no guarantees gas companies will not use fracking. Infrastructure for gas distribution alone is a huge investment of money and materials.  All the pipelines, tearing up of neighborhoods to lay pipes, new roads to drill for more gas, trucks to bring in water for drilling, trucks to remove the toxic waste water and drilling muds, and on
and on.

Homer is ideally situated for tidal energy with Kachemak Bay right next to town and its electrical distribution system. Imagine investing the AIDEA subsidy of $23 million in tidal power here rather than subsidizing Buccaneer’s purchase of a 1980s, less than state-of-the-art drill rig.

Renewable energy would not produce toxic waste, would not add much to our carbon footprint, would not disrupt our neighborhoods, would result in stable energy prices and  would provide a dependable energy source forever.

Homer is a fishing community. Burning fossil fuels is tied to ocean acidification. Humans are burning fossil fuels at increasing rates, which makes it even more urgent that we make decisions that do not increase ocean acidification.

We are on the cusp of having tidal energy in Cook Inlet. Ocean Renewable Power Company, or ORPC, will soon begin work on its Cook Inlet Tidal Energy Project near Nikiski at the East Forelands. They also have a site on the west side of Fire Island.  

We are rushing to build an expensive gas infrastructure that would be unnecessary if we invested in tidal power now. Imagine Homer as the “Tidal Energy Capital of Alaska.”  

Let’s make the smart decision with clean, affordable, renewable energy.  Let’s get off our fossil fuel addiction and challenge the state to invest in clean tidal power instead.

Nina Faust is a retired high school teacher and long-time community activist.