If you’ve ever owned an old clunker, you know something expensive is going to break and you’ll have to make the decision: Dump a lot of cash into the fixer-upper and hope it’ll survive the next leg of your journey, or kick the clunker to the curb for a new set of wheels. Lafayette was faced with that exact decision at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, except our city’s “clunker” is a 30-year-old coal-fired power plant. And we’re dumping $88 million into it, hoping it’ll last another 20 years.
At the Council meeting, the ordinance was raised as a “do or die” situation. As part of President Barack Obama’s new air-pollution regulations, utilities from across the country have to make a decision: Spend millions to retrofit old coal plants to meet minimum pollution standards, or replace those old clunkers with energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced natural gas power stations. Those options are much cleaner and healthier for our communities and, as it turns out, cheaper.
Right now, hundreds of coal-fired power plants are being kicked to the curb across the country in favor of the healthier options; but not here. Lafayette should have been researching these alternatives during the past four years, instead of an $88 million retrofit for our coal plant.
Now we’re seeing the consequences. It would be irresponsible to believe that in the next 20 years there won’t be additional costs associated with the coal plant — costs that we can avoid by investing in local energy options. We’d better start researching our options quickly, before our clunker coal plant leaves Lafayette stranded on the side of the road.
renewable energy manager
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