I tend to be an optimistic guy. I’m also pretty careful with the little money I make. So, a few years ago as the price of heating oil began to rise, I decided to switch to heating my little house trailer with propane. At the time, propane was a good deal. I had to purchase a rather expensive, but efficient, Rinnai heater. I was satisfied with how clean, quiet and inexpensive propane heat was.
That lasted a couple of years, and then the price of propane skyrocketed. I’m sure that reflected global demand or cost of production or freight costs or maybe just whatever the traffic would bear — I don’t know. But, I do know heating with propane is not a good deal anymore.
Now, the City of Homer is promoting running natural gas lines all over town to save everyone money on heating costs. I’m all for saving money. I’d love to see our hospitals, schools and city buildings save money, as well as our homes and businesses.
In spite of my optimism, I keep remembering the spike in the cost of both oil and propane, and a bit of doubt keeps creeping up on me. I read that natural gas demand will greatly exceed supply by 2014, just two years from now. Is this really a good deal for the people of Homer?
My son tells me a large commercial wind generator, such as utilities are installing all over the world costs about $1 million. I look at the long ridge of Bald Mountain back behind Homer and think we should put all the millions we’d need to spend on gas lines, and new equipment to burn it, into a line of wind generators.
The big power line from Bradley Lake to Anchorage already runs just below Bald Mountain. The electric power distribution system is already built and supplies most homes in our area. The most efficient way to use natural gas may be to build an electric power generator in Anchor Point. As the price of natural gas rises, and as we develop tidal, wind and wave power, we can phase out gas and tie into the same system.
AGEYA up on Crossman Ridge is using its new wind turbine to produce all its power needs. Why not Homer? The price of wind is not likely to rise.
Beyond arguments of personal benefit versus cost for the proposed gas pipeline, we wish to discuss some long-term consequences.
First is the concern that people who live modestly may be forced to pay for something they can’t afford to use. This would change Homer from a community that champions diversity, to one where people who have enough are subsidized by those who don’t.
A second issue is supply. Citizens are already bullied by oil companies — what makes us believe we won’t be held hostage by yet another aspect of that industry? Investing in natural gas only postpones the energy crisis. Our $12 million is a down payment on an unsustainable future.
On a global scale, the gas line further commits Homer to fossil fuel, adding to climate deterioration. Yes, others will use the gas if we don’t, but once we are invested, it will be easy to get our agreement for environmentally unsound practices to acquire more gas. We will have a personal stake in fracking, drilling and other destructive technologies yet to be devised.
Finally, it may come down to family budgeting: If we must go into debt (always risky for a family or community), would not our $12 million be better spent on wind, solar and tidal technology? Long after the gas is gone, we will have ocean currents, sun and wind. Personal choice declares our values and creates our future.
Jean Aspen and Tom Irons
If the City of Homer’s natural gas Special Assessment District proposal survives the ongoing vote of the property owners, a small simple change to the City’s plan could potentially save money for us all, as well as satisfying some opponents: Give neighborhoods – at least those in the second year of planned development – the opportunity to opt out by a majority vote of the properties in the neighborhood.
In 2013, according to the City’s plan, main lines will be installed throughout the city core and the Ocean Drive area, which are the cheaper and easier areas to develop. In 2014, lines will be extended to Sterling Highway subdivisions, East and West Hills, Skyline, Kachemak Drive and the Homer Spit. These areas are more expensive to develop, so property owners in the flatlands must subsidize owners in the highlands and the Spit.
If those owners don’t want the gas, they should be able to organize their neighbors to stop construction of the main line that would feed their own neighborhood. (Look at the red lines in the yellow area on City’s map at www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/naturalgas/construction-map.) Some main lines feed large areas, but there are many small branches that could be eliminated if owners oppose them, without any general impact, other than saving money for all. (Owners in these neighborhoods could arrange to hook up in the future, at their own expense, if they choose.)
The Spit in particular deserves public debate. It will be very costly to all of us to extend the line out four miles, then most of the landowners will be forced to pay monthly minimum hook-up bills to Enstar, along with all their other hook-up costs — all for gas they may use only four months a year, if at all. If Spit property owners choose to opt out, we would all save money.
This is in response to “Heli no,” (Letters, Nov. 21) I say “heli – yes.” I don’t know who the “we” is in keeping heli skiing out of Haines that Mr. Ely is referring to. It could mean him and his hamster for all I know. All he is doing is casting dispersions on people and a business he does not know. Calling them egotistical, and implying that they will break laws, calling helicopters dangerous, elitists, disturbing neighbors … all are erroneous and conjecture.
State parks and land are there for people to use, and use respectfully. A backcountry skier starts at sea level and works their way up through terrain that wildlife is living in. This presence lasts longer and affects wildlife much more than a heli skier who is skiing at an altitude void of food and wildlife.
And yes, I am a backcountry skier and I have gone heli skiing — and I am not wealthy. This land is for all to use. Roads are not being built, structures are not being built, and trails are not being cut and eroded. These are the same trails that are built for hikers to use, once again in areas where wildlife like to congregate.
The xenophobia of heli skiing is like anything that is new and different, people may be afraid of it. I say embrace the heli skiing, get to the know the people, and allow them to use the lands (which are there to use) and generate revenue and business for the local economy.
Heli skiing is not the end of the world, just the opposite, it is enhancing the quality of life, it is just skiing. It’s a low-impact activity, and yes everything we do has some impact. I love the fact that people feel good about building their house right next to a park, but don’t let anyone go into the park and use it. Hypocrisy?
As KBBI’s morning host/news reporter for the past four years, it has been my privilege to wake you up each weekday morning. Despite the job’s early morning hours, I took comfort in knowing that people were not only listening, but also depending on the information offered up while I navigated through NPR’s Morning Edition, local newscasts, weather, tides, community announcements and, of course, the bushlines.
My reporting duties put me in touch with many different segments of the community, and because of that, I quickly saw what a welcoming and unique place Homer is. I thank you all for sharing information with me, and truly appreciate the positive feedback you’ve given me.
I have now moved on to a new job. But as communications coordinator for the Pratt Museum, I will still be in touch with many of the same community members I worked with before — as well as many new ones.I will undoubtedly miss that first sip of Captain’s Coffee as I cued up whatever piece of music inspired me on any given morning — just before I sat down, turned on the microphone and welcomed each of you to a new day. But never fear, you can still hear me on KBBI’s airwaves during evening volunteer music shows. And this time I get to play songs with lyrics. Rock on!
Homer Council on the Arts has recently received a sponsorship contribution from ConocoPhillips Alaska in support of our after-school arts and theater programs for young people. This gift helps make possible TheatreShakes, our youth theater skills program, which recently presented a condensed version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
In the HCOA gallery, more than 100 students and senior adults enjoyed a matinee performance, which was followed the next evening with a full house public performance.
The gift from ConocoPhillips also supports youth visual art classes, offered in 6-week sessions during the school year, as well as the Youth Musical Theatre program, which begins in January and will culminate with the production of the musical “Honk,” based on the children’s story, “The Ugly Duckling.”
Because of sponsorships like that from ConocoPhillips, along with contributions from individuals and businesses in our community, no interested young person is ever turned away from participation in HCOA arts or theater programs because of lack of funds.
Thank you ConocoPhillips Alaska for supporting the HCOA mission of making it possible for everyone in our community to experience and participate in the arts.
Homer Council on the Arts
Writing on behalf of children and Homer Head Start Parent Committee, I wish to thank our community for generously supporting our recent bake sale. Thank you also to Safeway for providing a venue for the sale. Our parent committee raises funds to support enrichment activities for children. This year, funds will be used for swimming lessons, visiting artists and musicians, field trips to access learning experiences beyond our classroom and revisions to our playground to provide more natural elements. Thank you Homer for supporting the important years of early childhood.
Homer Head Start
We would like to thank the community and all who participated in making the seventh-annual Harvest Carnival happen. We had a fabulous evening of fun-filled activities, which couldn’t have happened without the giving hearts of the churches of Homer who contributed to the event with volunteers, candy and games.
We also would like to send out a special thank you to Save-U-More and this fine paper for their support in making this event happen, as well as the community for coming to our free event. Without all of your help this wouldn’t be available and we feel very privileged to serve the community of Homer.
Christian Community Church
The students of Voznesenka School would like to thank Alaska Marine Safety Education, Anna Ivy-Borland and Rick Peterson. Thanks for teaching us the Marine Safety Drill Instructor Course.
Thank you for letting us have this opportunity to learn many safety drills in and out of water. Thank you for showing up and having the time to teach us. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Nikit E. Matveev
This was my first year coaching the Homer High School Football Cheerleaders, and it was truly a pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with the cheerleaders, their wonderful parents and volunteers.
I am so grateful for their endless time, support and energy, and appreciate all they did and all the help they provided. Thank you.
I also want to send a heart-felt thank you to the following folks for their support with time, donations, and their much-needed, and very gracious, financial support. Without them, we would not have had the fantastic year and accomplishments we had.
Thanks to: Boog’s Automotive, Home Run Oil, Auto Collision Experts, Kachemak Gear Shed, Sourdough Express/Kathy Kysar, Snug Harbor, Janet Middleton and Terry Plant for making and donating the chocolate lollipops.
A big thank-you goes out to the American Legion Auxiliary, the Catholic Women’s Guild, the Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary and the Snomads for their generous support of the Homer Boys and Girls Club.
These donations will positively impact the lives of children through additional after-school programs.
Homer BGC director
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