Hikes in energy costs over the past year have been a rude awakening on the central Kenai Peninsula to the fact that abundant, cheap energy is a luxury, not a right, and certainly not a guarantee. The peninsula, like most of the country, had it good for a long time, and so was able to put off the difficult discussions and decisions about power generation that other countries have been struggling with.
Not any longer.
The Homer Electric Association Board of Directors made a good decision Feb. 10 to initiate a power supply study before committing to buying electricity from the Healy coal project.
The goal of the independent study is to provide the board with a cost-benefit analysis of possible power generation sources, including natural gas, coal and various renewable energies. “The study will consider all factors involved in power production, including possible future fuel costs, regulatory issues, reliability, and most importantly, the impact it will have on the rates paid by our members,” said board president Debbie Debnam.
Now is the time to wean our dependence off fossil fuels for power generation. Regardless of where one stands on the environmental issues of burning oil, natural gas and coal for fuel, the financial ramifications of doing so can’t be ignored. On the peninsula, it stares us in the face with each electric bill and heating bill.
Fossil fuels come with a cost —and it’s a rising one. Not only are supplies of natural gas and oil dwindling, the price of relying on them for our main power source is rising. Switching to coal would put us on the same path down the road.
There’s no time like the present to change that path. Our hope is this study prompts the HEA board to commit to developing renewable sources of energy. It will mean more money up front, but that investment will pay off when electric rates aren’t so shackled to fossil fuels. That’s the kind of “green” movement everyone can get behind.