To the editor:
I would like to respond to Mr. DiTomasso's letter ("Heat wave underscores importance of 'peaker' plants", June 9). Mr DiTomasso completely misunderstands what environmentalists like myself are promoting.
Mr. DiTomasso calls us “special interests” negatively, but he's wrong. Those of us who take the time to get properly educated on the complex subject of how we obtain our electric power and then volunteer our time and expertise should not be denigrated. Our special interest is human health and a sustainable environment.
It is misleading to say we're proposing to "shut down" the three peaker power plants in the Berkshires, as DiTomasso accuses. We are petitioning the plant owners to transition to battery storage and green energy, as this technology is feasible now. We can “keep the grid functioning safely” with clean energy.
Mr. DiTomasso takes comfort in knowing Pittsfield Generating operates on “natural gas,” which is more correctly labeled "fracked methane gas." Fracking involves multiple toxic chemicals, is horribly polluting to both air and water, and leaks in fracking wells. It is unsustainable and dangerous. And while methane does burn cleaner than coal at the point of combustion, if you include the negative health impacts from fracking and leaks during distribution, gas is far from natural and every bit as detrimental as coal. Why not have emissions-free energy, rather than moderately lower emissions than coal?
Mr. DiTomasso believes "more forests need to be cleared for solar arrays and hilltops covered with turbines" for us to have enough clean energy. That's just not true. We have plenty of room on rooftops, parking lots, along highways, old gravel pits and on land that was previously cleared — let's preserve forests for the valuable carbon sinks they are. The preferred location for wind turbines is far offshore, where the wind is most reliable. Battery storage will keep our electric grid running smoothly even when sun and/or wind are not available.
It has already taken the industry too long to make changes, and my colleagues and I at Berkshire Environmental Action Team, 350 MA Berkshires, and No Fracked Gas in Mass. are trying to push them to do the right thing. Our interests are preserving the environment, public health and making sure clean energy is affordable and accessible to all. And yes, those interests are special.
Henry Rose, Dalton