LETTERS

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011: Energy costs, social services and the American Folk Festival

Posted Aug. 29, 2011, at 4:17 p.m.

Energy by the numbers

In their Aug. 25 OpEd “Finding the economic viability of alternative energy,” James LaBrecque and Joshua Hayward fail to understand the difference between costs associated with energy generation and conservation.

Conservation reduces consumer cost by employing measures which utilize energy more efficiently. For example, spending $1,000 to insulate a home that reduces annual consumption of heating oil from 700 gallons to 425 gallons has a “payback” of 1.2 years. Clearly, a wise investment.

Similarly, utilizing compact florescent light bulbs, which use one-third the amount of electricity to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb actually has a negative “payback” time since, in addition to more efficient energy use, the cost of buying four incandescent bulbs (lifetime: 2,000 hours each) exceeds the cost of a single CFL bulb (lifetime: 8,000 hours of operation).

The Labreque and Hayward definition that quantifies “viable” alternative energy (generation) solutions as having a one-year payback shows a lack of understanding. As an example, for electricity, the only viable method to compare costs of each “alternative” is to add up all the costs to purchase the generating equipment (fossil fuel-fired and nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, solar arrays, wind turbines, etc.) provide maintenance and pay for fuel (coal, natural gas, uranium; free for hydro, wind and solar) over the life of the equipment and divide that number by the amount of energy it generates to arrive at a levelized cost of energy.

The range of electricity costs for large plants is from 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (hydroelectric) to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (solar).

Bob Hall

Bowerbank

A gem of a museum

I just returned from The Penobscot Marine Museum with three of my grandchildren for the second year in a row, per their request. For those who have not had the pleasure of a trip there I must say you are missing out on a wonderful experience for both young and old.

The volunteers are knowledgeable as well as interesting to even the youngest of audiences. The museum consists of many buildings with interesting exhibits, not to mention the history that lies within them.

Many thanks to all the fine people involved with this “gem” of a museum located in our own backyard.

Beth Dalton

Orrington

Doomed by unraveling

Alexander Keyssar’s OpEd piece, “The real grand bargain is unraveling,” (BDN, Aug. 27-28) is a wonderfully succinct history of the social progress made in the 20th century, which we are permitting to be undone in a matter of months.

It is important that the American people become aware of what is going on before they lose all of the benefits they have derived from these programs. Where would all but the very wealthy be without Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

A government that has little compassion for the largest portion of its population is doomed.

Nina and Speir Collins

Franklin

Tired of vandalism

I live in the housing area on Randolph Drive in Bangor; recently there has been a rash of vandalism such as personal property being destroyed (car windows broken, glass bulbs being smashed, flower pots being broken), cars being broken into and items taken from these cars and other personal properties being destroyed.

Also, there has been a lot of trash thrown on the sidewalks along Union Street, creating a path of trash along to the Jobs Corps school off of Union Street.

The residents are tired of their personal property being vandalized.

William Belfout

Bangor

Festival service with a smile

I was unsure about going to the American Folk Festival in Bangor this year because I was on crutches and had a cast on. But thanks to the efforts of festival volunteers, my concerns were unfounded.

When we parked at Bass Park, a volunteer appeared in a golf cart ready to shuttle me to the bus so I wouldn’t have to walk very far. Whatever different stage I wanted to go there would be a smiling, happy volunteer ready to whisk me off. When I wanted to go to a food section that was far away, a golf cart would appear and take me there.

The volunteers made an experience I thought I would dread into a wonderful time.

Shannon Elliott

Hampden

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