A Step On The Path to Zero-Emission Electricity

by SC Guest Contributor Barbara Joy Cooley

The Sun, as seen from Captiva Island. Photo by Barbara Joy Cooley

The Cooley household just received its ballot for voting on trustees for the Lee County Electric Cooperative board. To my surprise, there is a contest on the ballot; two people are running for one seat. That usually does not happen; these elections are generally uncontested.

The incumbent has a background in real estate and development with a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Florida. He has served on the LCEC board of trustees for 23 years.

The other candidate for the position is an electrical engineer, with experience in directing municipal utilities. He’s taught at Brown University, Northeastern University, Boston University, the Florida Institute of Technology, and more. He has a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Alexandria University, and both master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Northeastern University, according to the bio that accompanied the ballot.

Being a science writer who worked for a research institute and a university, I am biased. So it won’t surprise you that I was most impressed by the engineer’s credentials.

Then I searched for news articles in which this engineer was mentioned. Up came an article from Windpower Engineering and Development, “What factors should influence a developer’s choice of switchgear?

Hmmm. Switchgear. That’s a techy word that would turn off many readers, but my interest was piqued by it. Switchgear is something you need when you are generating power from multiple sources — like wind or solar farms.

According to ecpowersystems.com, switchgear is “is a fairly broad, generic term that includes a variety of switching devices used to protect your power system from overloads. By extension then, the definition could also include devices used to regulate, meter, and control your power system.”

If you are going to develop a wind or solar farm, you better have good switchgear. The new candidate for the LCEC board is an expert in this technology; he was a regional manager and field system engineer for ABB. Now he is ABB’s Regional Business Development Manager. On its web site, ABB states, “We are committed to writing the future of safe, smart and sustainable electrification for everything from industry and buildings to infrastructure and transportation. Our vision is to achieve a zero-emission reality not only for the future but also today.”

“Zero-emission electricity” is music to my ears. The Cooley household is voting for the new candidate, Samy Faried, for the LCEC board.

A resume on the lcec.net site states that Dr. Faried wants to increase renewable energy resources and minimize environmental impacts. As a municipal utility director, he decreased electrical outages by 80% and stabilized rates. And he gives back: he serves as the leader of Home Missions Outreach, a group that helps the poor in the Fort Myers area.

After sending in our ballot, I am also going to learn more about ABB’s Mission to Zero, an example of how digital energy management technology can be used to create carbon-neutral and energy self-sufficient sites on various scales, from homes to buildings to transportation systems to industry and manufacturing centers.

The solutions for generating renewable, zero-emission energy require new technology. It is looking like the technology is there; are we ready for it? Let’s see if the engineer wins a seat on our LCEC board. Maybe he can help our co-op along the path to a zero-emission future.

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