2016-09-02 / Letters

Vote is chance to make environmental statement

To the editor:

Kennebunk is an eco-friendly, green community as evidenced by our recycling rate, our land conservation successes, our beautiful beaches, our two historic rivers, our long-running farmers’ market, and the recent passage of the local plastic bag referendum.

Our residents support local businesses and services. “Buy Local” was the practice here long before it became a national campaign. Saturdays, bags in hand, we shop our farmers’ market and our small local farms.

Though it might cost a little bit more, we know who grew it and that the vegetables, fruits, eggs, cheeses, and meats probably traveled less than 10 miles to reach our dinner tables.

Generations of Kennebunkers have also been proud that for over 125 years we’ve been locally producing and consuming renewable and environmentally safe hydro power generated on our Mousam River. This power stays local to power our Kennebunk homes and businesses.

This non-polluting, green local production has also played a role in keeping our country’s environment healthy. Every kWh produced at our three dams means nationally a reduction in the petroleum that has to be drilled, transported by rail or pipeline to a refinery, and then transported again to an electric-generating plant and then out onto the electric grid.

Using the 1,400,000 kWh generated locally by our three Mousam River dams in 2014 (Wright-Pierce Cost Analysis Alternatives) would annually remove 97,090 gallons of oil or 1,442,480 pounds of coal from the national production demands — transportation (twice), refining or processing and converting to electricity maybe 1,000 or 2,000 miles away from here. Pipeline leaks, contaminated groundwater, smokestacks, and possible fiery train derailments are all some of the risks in that process. Here on the Maine coast, we’re also downwind and receive the air pollution and acid rain from those oil and coal-fired power plants.

Extend these annual calculations out over the next five years of the FERC review process to 2022 and we could save through our local hydro-electric production the equivalent nationally of 485,450 gallons of oil (12,136 40-gallon barrels) or 7,112,400 pounds of coal (3,606 tons). (Source: US Energy Information Administration)

This fall on the Nov. 8 ballot is town referendum Question 4, “Do you favor the Kennebunk Light and Power District continuing to invest in hydropower generation facilities along the Mousam River?” A yes vote would support their proper maintenance so that KLPD can first maintain and then possibly expand upon the 2014 1,400,000 kWh production level.

Any company looking to purchase the district’s generating license between now and 2022 when that license expires, will need that equipment in proper condition as they begin the transition to the modernization of our generating equipment with new cutting edge 21st-century innovative technology.

That new technology could result in a substantial jump in hydro electric production, which should both lower our monthly electric bills and also make our national impact on the environment even greater than it is now.

Your yes vote would show your support that we continue our long and proud, 125- year history of local hydro power production on the Mousam.

This Nov. 8, please vote yes on town referendum Question 4 so that our Kennebunk community can make the positive environmental statement that we want to continue to be that rare Maine town that can say, “we proudly generate and locally consume our own hydro electric power.”

Tom Murphy
Kennebunk Landing

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