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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Support Green Initiatives
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Support Green Initiatives

My letter is in response to “Support Green New Deal,” [Gazette Packet, Dec. 20-26, 2018]. Having driven 20 plus miles through what is billed as the world’s largest wind farm in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and seeing many hundreds of wind turbines with maybe 5 turning, and then reading about Virginia paying an estimated $300M for a 2 wind turbine open-ocean demonstration project (both located in the world’s most corrosive and challenging environs), I can appreciate the letter writer’s and the world-wide frustration with the slowness of the introduction of viable new green energy technologies — and, in many cases, their failures.

Sadly, the author’s prescription to expand government’s control over energy to include a Green New Deal is a recipe for what the citizens of France, Germany, Denmark and others are experiencing — worries about their ability to pay end of the month bills instead of receiving Green Energy Benefits.

What is frustrating is that throughout our 2,300 mile travels along China’s Silk Road, we saw so many public / private initiatives that demonstrated with a like-minded approach in the United States, we would be so much further along in implementing many net-zero and clean energy initiatives. Our federalist system of government and regional private businesses are ideal for experimenting, implementing and expanding tailored Green Energy initiatives — immediately.

Look at Virginia, especially Northern Virginia with its volume of new construction. With about 40 percent of our energy consumed by commercial and residential properties, there is an immediate opportunity for building design to focus on the new Passive House low-energy heating and cooling construction techniques, and for renovated homes, the installation of many of the net-zero technologies. Unfortunately, many of these products and techniques are not well known or promoted. How about rather than a sign announcing the new Virginia Tech / George Mason Campus along Route 1, the signage adopts what Cornell University touts on their new New York tech campus, a Passive House Building.

As big and as impactful would be the implementation of a public / private initiative to qualify near-zero emissions heavy duty trucks and buses equipped with the latest natural gas engines using the same experts at Virginia Tech whose qualifications found the problems with diesel engine testing; compete financing rates with banks for small operator-owned vehicle purchases; use small-business set-asides on state DOT contracts to provide a level of guaranteed work as an incentive to turn in their diesel trucks and buses; and certify these small business owners using our community colleges to train them on vehicle operations and business practices. One only has to look at the number of Lyft and Uber drivers to understand the thirst for higher paying jobs.

There are a number of viable public / private approaches to immediately implement clean energy technologies. Falling back to a Green New Deal with government control comes the avalanche of rules, regulations, large bureaucracies — and lobbyists. Remember, the last time the government chose winners and losers — Solyndra.

Ken Wilkinson

Alexandria