The Salem News: Column: A responsible approach to energy

Rob Bradford, president of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, calls for action to secure the state’s energy future:

Whether running a small business, a major industrial operation or simply budgeting for home energy bills, we all share a reliance on affordable energy. But more and more, rising energy costs have become a major deterrent to economic development and job growth. To remain competitive with other regions, we must ensure we don’t burden local businesses with outrageously high energy costs which put us at a significant disadvantage….

In December and January, our region burned 2 million barrels of oil over two weeks to generate electricity — significantly increasing our carbon emissions. Why was this necessary? Because we didn’t have access to enough cleaner-burning natural gas to meet the demand for both heating and power generation. As a result, we were depending on oil and coal for as much as 40 percent of our fuel mix – emitting enough carbon to wipe out 75 percent of the benefits we get from solar power every year. Even with all that extra coal and oil burn, according to the nonprofit operator of our power grid, New England was as little as 36 hours from having to ration electricity. That’s right – we came dangerously close to rolling blackouts in the 21st century in New England.

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