A greener valley

Editor's Corner

Author: Mark Roland
Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2010

What can we say about the oil spill? Drill baby, drill? It’s time to start changing our ways. For real.

In this issue of Hudson Valley Life, we talk with John Voelcker, who analyzes the green car industry and writes about it for greencarreports.com. John is busy, because in the coming months, car makers will unveil a host of new offerings, including several all-electric vehicles. Electric cars, of course, draw on power created at a power plant, and are therefore responsible for carbon emissions. But John assures us that even in the worst-case scenarios, an electric car is easier on the environment than combustion engines.

In the end, of course, the greenest thing you can do is walk, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation. To paraphrase John, a Toyota Prius and a Chevy Tahoe put out the same amount of carbon sitting in the driveway.

One of the key reasons for the increasing feasibility of mass consumption electric vehicles is improvements in battery technology. But what happens to all those big, heavy battery packs, which are not cheap, when the car has reached the end of its life?

Because a battery pack will still retain a good portion of its energy storage capacity, John expects an entire industry to spring up that will make the batteries available for other uses, particularly storing energy from residential solar panels. In fact, it appears Nissan is already preparing for just such a scenario for its batteries.

Which brings us to Shannon Gallagher’s piece on solar power in the Hudson Valley. Of the twelve “6KC” awards given out in 2010 by the New York Solar Industries Association recognizing outstanding completed projects in the state, four went to installations in the Hudson Valley: Hudson Valley Clean Energy, Rhinebeck; State Office of General Service, Wallkill Correctional Facility; Town of Esopus; and Ronnybrook Dairy Farms, Ancramdale. Thanks to everyone involved in those projects for helping to nudge our region toward a healthier future.

Cutting back our carbon footprint doesn’t mean cutting back fun. I noticed a few intriguing events in this month’s calendar, including a beard contest in Montgomery (Warning: Do not walk the town’s streets without a permit for your facial hair) and the annual vinegar festival at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery in LaGrangeville, where seven varieties made on premises will be available for tasting. What could be more American than beards and vinegar in July?  Go to our calendar for our constantly updated listings of fabulous summer events.

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