Municipal Geothermal for Independent Green Republic of East Cleveland

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 11/01/2007 - 09:45.

While looking on Green City Blue Lake for a posting on the Breuer, I came across an interesting article by Marc Lefkowitz called "Warm up to district geothermal in Cleveland", which writes "Representatives from Case, UCI, Cleveland Clinic, city of Cleveland, Flats East Bank and Neighborhood Progress, Inc.— which is considering geothermal district power at its St. Luke’s development—met yesterday (October 22, 2007) at the Cleveland Foundation" to discuss "The economics of district-wide geothermal". It seems these groups are exploring large scale geothermal projects to help meet large energy needs, like for University Hospitals.

The article points out, "The sleeping giant that could tip the balance in favor of “greening the grid” in University Circle, and at the proposed University Arts and Retail District, might be University Hospitals, whose campus is so big that it operates its own power plant producing steam for heat and electricity." " The hospital system is considering adding a second source of power to supplement its existing plant, which is currently the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in Cuyahoga County, said Chris Ronayne, director of University Circle, Inc." “With the region’s air quality concerns, I doubt (UH) would get the permit to build another (coal-burning) power plant,” Cleveland Foundation energy expert Richard Stuebi commented.

I never realized UH is the second largest emitter of CO2 in the county... that is disgraceful. Clearly, this article does not tell the whole story, including why this discussion is not one of the biggest news items in the state, right now. Many stories, in fact... UH as polluter... the future of coal... the future of the UH plant... UH plans to build an additional coal plant or replace the current coal plant with another coal plant elsewhere... and intelligent green design.

It is certain we will explore all these matters on realneo, over time, but one opportunity raised in this article should be explored immediately by my community of East Cleveland. Jeff Wolf, chief operating officer of EnLink Geothermal, a Houston-based company, who was brought in by the Cleveland Foundation as the geothermal expert at the meeting, said "We’re working on a proposal with Delta Electric Co-op to find a city that wants (a geothermal system) to be part of an unregulated utility.”

In moving to a new neighborhood in East Cleveland, bordering the UARD that hopes to be green and UH that is a great polluter, I have been concerned about UH/UCI's future plans to pollute and how to green my community. I concluded district geothermal is the best solution, but that requires exactly the technologies and business models proposed in Marc's article.

So, I offer my city of East Cleveland and my neighborhood, bounded by Lakeview Cemetery, Euclid and Superior, as the place to demonstrate the real social and economic value of advanced energy, for people who deserve to have their lives and community advanced. One way to balance the negative impact of a great polluter like UH - and University Circle in general, considering the transient car and truck pollution it creates - is to enable green benefits for those polluted.  Bringing district geothermal to East Cleveland residents and businesses will do this and improve the quality of life of those impacted in many other ways, which offers great social equity. And, East Cleveland is an independent city that should be able to leverage its position of need to benefit as a community seeking positive change.

I'll forward this to East Cleveland leadership and will follow up with all parties that seem involved in this district geothermal planning, as I am able, and I ask anyone else interested in the future of the UARD, University Circle, East Cleveland, advanced energy and the region to do the same. It seems the discussions about green, pollution, coal and regionalism are about to take some ugly turns, and the leadership are well prepared to fight for the right to pollute, so it is time for the citizenry to get engaged. Until this region gets a grip on our pollution and dependence on coal and traditional energy suppliers and regulators, and dramatically change our industrial-policy mindset, we will not have a strong new economy.

Time to move this discussion out of the foundation rooms and into every community planning meeting and council chamber... energy and pollution are our #1 priorities, despite the distractions of day to day violence, poverty and mainstream media and cult clutter. Let's get focused.