For an East Coast liberal hoping to make it to Denver for next month’s Democratic National Convention, air or car travel can create quite the carbon-foot printed nightmare. While the DNCC has attempted to help limit the number of guilty consciences by offering to sell delegates carbon credits alleged to help offset damage to mother earth, it turns out that a primary source of these credits is a sham.
As FaceTheState.com, a center-right news site (to which I contribute) reports, an eastern Colorado wind turbine "tapped for the [DNC’s] carbon-offset problem has one problem: It doesn’t generate any electricity."
Face The State went public with its discovery after a glowing feature in Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News described the turbine "at the heart of the DNC’s carbon-credit program" as "a windmill that toils day and night producing clean energy."
In truth, the turbine doesn’t work correctly and it never has. While it is turned on occasionally, the gesture appears largely for public relations reasons. After a February 15 ribbon cutting ceremony, Wray School RD-2 officials discovered that the turbine was incapable of producing much of anything. "We flipped it back off and on about ten times since then," Superintendent Ron Howard told Face The State. "It has run, it will run, but it won’t run itself up to full capacity."
The DNC’s "Green Challenge" carbon offsets program, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, promises special rewards for the state delegation most willing to "demonstrate the highest level of commitment to offsetting their carbon footprint from attending the Convention."
Through a partnership with Vermont-based Native Energy, delegates can purchase credits from four "clean energy projects" around the U.S., with the Wray turbine at the top of the list. A carbon offset, as described by the Pelosi pack, is a "carbon emission reduction that helps decrease the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that otherwise would be in our atmosphere. . . To help solve the global climate crisis, you should first reduce your energy use whenever and wherever possible, utilize renewable energy sources and be as efficient as possible with the energy you have to use."
Oh, and of course, to clear your conscience entirely, your carbon offsets must be purchased through the DNCC’s partners. The reward for the best performing delegation is a "limited edition ‘green’ prize." For any delegate purchasing credits, he or she will receive a "unique wearable ‘green item’ for Convention week, available only to these delegates, and be recognized individually on DemConvention.com."
One unit of a "DNCC Special Blend" carbon offset will set you back $12. According to the DNCC, this will help offset the two tons of CO2 released on an East Coast to Denver flight for each passenger, with the revenue generated invested into new clean energy projects across the country.
But still, the DNCC warns, this isn’t enough. The average American creates a carbon footprint of 20 tons of CO2 per year. To offset this entire amount, delegates will need to pony up an additional $108. This money, according to the DNCC Web site, will go toward "helping to build a new renewable energy project that will displace energy that would otherwise come from burning fossil fuels." The ultimate goal: To become "carbon neutral."
Despite the turbine’s flaws, Gov. Bill Ritter’s continues to tout it as an example of government innovation in clean energy. He is a man on a mission, putting out four press releases in the last month to demonstrate his commitment to a "new energy economy"; he started an advertising campaign reminding people to turn off their TVs, and has announced $150,000 in grants geared toward wind energy.
So will the turbine ever work? Maybe. According to Howard, the turbine requires replacement equipment, scheduled to be installed soon. "It’s a new technology, so they don’t have the bugs out of it," he told Face The State. "Since there’s so many people watching [the turbine], they might be better served to go to a more reliable model."
In the meantime, the school district is cashing checks from America’s Wind Energy, Inc., a firm that built the turbine. Howard declined to say how much the school is making off the turbine. Face The State’s feisty managing editor Brad Jones has responded by filing an open records act request.