From Where I Sat

LWVNJ intern shares her experience and views of the Alternative Energy Conference

The following entry is written by LWVNJ intern, and new member, Mabel Duran-Sanchez and reflects her impressions of the Alternative Energy Conference.

Approximately 100 other members and non-members joined me at the Alternative Energy for New Jersey conference on Saturday, April 10. The conference was part of a continuing project led by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey Natural Resources Committee in search of enlightening and educating New Jersey on different sources of alternative energy.

The first half of the event was dedicated to the informative reports presented by the different League committees who researched geothermal, solar, nuclear, biomass, and wind alternative energy sources. These reports highlighted the economic and physical efficiency of the different sources, as well as their life expectancy and reliability, ecological compatibility, and political viability.

Throughout these presentations, a reoccurring theme was that of collaboration. There is no sole right way to produce energy efficiently while protecting our environment. Alternative energy sources are more efficient when used in combination, rather than independently.

Perhaps some of the most attention-grabbing moments of these reports included when the League of Women Voters of Ridgewood discussed how sewage sludge could be used as a means to generate energy in a waste water plant and when Kimberly E. Diamond, the representative of the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey Environmental Commission (BHEC) presented the extensive and immediate benefits of wind power. Another interesting fact that I learned during the conference was that Germany was the leader in solar energy creation. If a cloudy country like Germany had made solar energy work for them, New Jersey, which was measured second nationally for its total solar capacity, could do the same.

After the reports, the audience headed to the lunch room. While enjoying our meals, keynote speaker, Governor James J. Florio, gave a wonderful speech. Governor Florio’s charismatic personality and enthusiasm for the reports and the Leagues’ findings was exhilarating. He enlightened the audience with his executive experience, knowledge of environmental policy, and his passion for long-term development.

After lunch, Scott Minos, from the U.S. Department of Energy, presented on the importance of maximizing the productivity of the energy that is already produced. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, concluded the conference. He suggested a combination of alternative energy sources in order to create a more sustainable energy source.

It was interesting to learn how protecting our environment involves gradual changes and that it does not require a complete transformation of everything we know. The problem is whether we choose to contribute to cheap short-term development or more expensive long-term results as Governor Florio mentioned. This is what will determine environmental policy.

In addition to the wonderful things that I learned from the conference, it was truly a proud experience. It was an honor to be involved in such a wonderful project and to be around such inspirational individuals. When Governor Florio expressed his gratitude for all of the League’s deeds, I could not help but to feel grateful to be involved with such an incredible and influential group.

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