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Topic: Energy     Department: Letters

A room with a view

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I wanted to thank you for your column "If not here, where?" (HCN, 12/24/12). In mid-October, a 12-panel solar array came online in my backyard. It turns out I love to generate my own power! But there was one problem. The best place for locating the array was in the middle of my backyard -- disrupting a wonderful view of the Rattlesnake Valley.

My need to generate my own power began last summer. When I grudgingly went to turn on my air conditioner, it hit me how ridiculous it was that in the midst of global warming, I was going to spew out still more carbon -- carbon that would be around for decades, just so I could cool off for part of an afternoon! I now feed excess power directly into the grid and use grid power when I can't generate. This seems completely environmentally "fair" to me.

As for the fun of generating my own power, when I paid for electricity, the cost and even my environmental concern was never enough to make me hang my wash outside instead of using my dryer. Then one day, I watched how fast the electric meter ran in the wrong direction when I was using the dryer. Now, I dry my clothes 10 minutes or less, then hang them. One doesn't generate a lot of power on dark December days, but even a small amount is produced all day. An expression related to the fight over apartheid comes to mind:  "Your efforts are a drop in the ocean; but the ocean is made up of drops!"

Still, what I did to my view bothered me. It was beautiful, and it was mine, and I hurt it. And then I read your column about understanding the issue I created and now face: "Are some places too special to drill?" My own back yard, and my own view, would both be "those places," and yet, I'd "drilled" there. As you wrote: "If it's not in my backyard, whose is it gonna be in?"

Now I understand why what I did was a good and proper and communal thing to do. I need to see the "the machinery of my energy appetite" from my bedroom window.

William Clarke
Missoula, Montana

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