Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some energy updates

An interesting concept arose at last night's energy meeting... use the construction of turf as an opportunity to install a geothermal heating unit for the high school. I had never thought of it before, but there is logic to it. Consider...

To capture the geothermal energy (assume 50F), you need to dig down below the frost line... probably a few feet. And presumably the turf field would require us to dig down at least some depth. So we could just dig a bit deeper, bury the geothermal unit... then run the water piping system to the back end of CHS and avoid the purchase of a microturbine or fuel cell or anything else. And there you have it... a modestly intelligent use of Amann's slush fund! Unfortunately, I recall the Council just voted to speed along with the CHS electric retrofit... so I doubt anything will happen with this.

But maybe something can come out of tonight's BOE Planning Committee discussion with UPC Solar. UPC is an alternative energy provider that was offering its product (PVs / solar panels) and service to the school system. Basically, their pitch was similar to Sun Edison's of a few years ago... "give us the space and we'll give you the PVs, along with electricity at a competitive rate." Personally, I like the idea a lot... and the vendor was knowledgable. So something could happen... but with the relatively short remaining life expectancies of the school roofs (Highland has the most time left at around 14 years), I'm uncertain if anything will happen with this either... but there is a chance.

What really needs to happen though is some thoughtful planning. For instance, the Town is currently in an electricity purchase agreement that doesn't expire until December 2011. (The schools current contract expires around December 2009.) So the Town may have contractual problems if it engaged in either of these deals before the contract expires. In the meantime though, we can begin planning our infrastructure needs. And that began (albeit slowly) last summer. So hopefully over the next year or two, the Town will come up with an infrastructure plan and simultaneously learn about the many alternative energies and start using some in the not-so-distant future.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Put the artificial turf on flat roofs of the schools. You won't have to dig and all the piping will lead downhill.

Anonymous said...

Good idea with putting the turf on the roof. When the sun hits it, it can heat up to 30 degrees or more than the outside air. Maybe we can channel that heated air back into the building. Add a few air filters and those toxic gasses should all be filtered out.
Heck, why not let the kids play football on the turf roof too.

Anonymous said...

Do we need all these expensive sports? I wonder what it costs us to field the football program?