Great that Stewart’s is going solar, but the math doesn’t work
Reflecting on the July 23 article, “State Grant Helps Stewart’s Plant Go Solar,” a lightbulb went off in my head. A major local company going solar. What great, shining news! My favorite ice cream company using renewable energy. It may even taste better now, but the pure economics of what I read struck me.
Stewart’s senior vice president had stated that solar originally didn’t make sense economically. The original $1.4 million cost of the solar system would save the company $40,000 a year in electrical costs producing 620,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. Hmm, let’s do the math here — $1.4 million divided by $40,000 per year and one sees that the payback period is 35 years. Not a sound investment, but a noble one to use renewable energy.
So to the rescue comes NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority], which is funded by our tax dollars to provide a tax incentive of $600,000 to reduce Stewart’s net cost to $800,000. The math reveals that $800,000 divided by $40,000 savings per year results in a payback period of 20 years.
We all love to be green and we should consider using renewables where we can. With the huge recent increases in efficiency and plummeting costs of photovoltaic cells well below industry experts expectations, this technology still cannot survive economically without (in Stewart’s case, a 42.9 percent subsidy) huge taxpayer-funded incentives.
I praise Stewart’s for making the good-faith decision to go forward with this technology, but being realists, we must understand that noble causes come at huge costs. I’ll continue eating my favorite ice cream and breathe cleaner air, but don’t be fooled about renewables. Energy companies are making huge investments in natural gas, and fossil fuel will continue to power our economy for the next 100 years.
Renewables will play a small part in the equation, but fossil fuels will dominate the landscape for the rest of my lifetime.
Other ballet no match for Balanchine and NYCB
Oh what a difference a few days makes! On July 13 the audience at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center [SPAC] was served a banquet with works of Robbins, Wheeldon, Peck, and Martins to supplement New York City Ballet’s heart and soul, pieces from the canon of [director and choreographer of the New York City Ballet] George Balanchine, the most important influential and talented choreographer the world has ever known. By midnight the New York City Ballet was on the road and the load-in for National Ballet of Canada was about to begin.
To move from the genius of George Balanchine to the banality of [choreographer] James Kudelka within a week was almost unbearable for this balletomane. On the National Ballet of Canada’s debut at SPAC, the first ballet performed was Kudelka’s “Four Seasons” to Vivaldi’s immediately recognizable suite of violin concerti.
Sadly, the choreography was as predictable as the music. Count for count and beat for beat, dance mirrored music literally. Awkward costumes, constantly repeating steps in unison and heavy-handed mime made this ballet seem interminable, even when rhapsodically played by the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra with shimmering solo work by violinist Stephen Sitarski. There was little stylistic difference among the movements and a viewer who is unfamiliar with the order of the music would have difficulty understanding the theme of the piece. The dancers are beautifully trained and deserve more interesting choreography.
By contrast, consider George Balanchine’s “Square Dance,” also set to Vivaldi violin music. Here the dancers also mirror the music but what a difference! Directions are constantly shifting, steps might be on the off beat and the corps follows the lead of the principal in counterpoint so there is always something interesting to watch just by slightly moving your eyes. There is an extended slow solo for the male principal, but he tells his story through movement, often with his back to the audience. No mime is there, no mime is needed.
The vast majority of local dance fans welcome new and unique companies, but not at the expense of our resident company, a troupe that enjoys a vast repertory of masterworks and a balletic style that is unlike any other in the world.
The sorrow of New York City Ballet’s diminishing presence here at SPAC could not have been more clearly illustrated for all to see. It is time now to reverse this trend.
National Ballet of Canada up to standard of SPAC
My wife and I attended the ballet at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 17, and we were very pleased with an outstanding performance by the National Ballet of Canada.
Although I am certainly not an expert critic of the arts, I must say that their performance was just as masterful as any I’ve seen in the past by the New York City Ballet [NYCB].
The orchestra, although not as large as the orchestra for NYCB, sounded just as pleasing to my ear. As a musician myself, I feel that I can safely make a positive judgement on their behalf.
My strongest reason for this letter is to comment on the comments by the Gazette’s critic [Wendy Liberatore] for that event. It seems to me that some arts critics just have to say something negative after having said in previous paragraphs how great the performance was.
Martin killed because of the color of his skin
With the conclusion of the trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, we as a nation have again affirmed, that as much as we desire to ignore or pretend that we have all overcome our prejudices, we still live in a world in which a child, walking through a neighborhood, doing nothing more than carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of tea, his hood turned up because it was raining, can still be gunned down for no other reason than the presumption that comes with being African-American, the presumption that he is up to no good.
While it is impossible to overcome the racial issues that plague this nation in a single moment, this decision does reaffirm the place of African-Americans within our society. Each generation within the story of our country is plagued with senseless killings of persons doing little wrong except having the wrong skin color.
What was the age of lynchings following the Civil War in which churches in the South would literally stop worship to attend lynchings and then return back to worship, in which whole towns would socially gather around the painful torture and killing of black folks, in which families would take family pictures in front of lifeless bodies of African-American men and women while taking pieces of bones as souvenirs, was transformed into the age of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King and Malcom X.
Today, Trayvon martin takes his place next to all those boys and men who did nothing wrong except for not knowing their place within the racial caste system of this country. These tragedies simply must stop.
Rev. James D. McLeod Jr.,
The writer is pastor for the United Presbyterian Church.
Clean air and your lungs by quitting smoking
This summer, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Clean Indoor Air Act, which established smoke-free workplaces.
For years, I was one of the people who had to step outside to smoke because of this law. I work in a counseling position where many of my clients also step outside to smoke, and it was another way to connect with them. Still, though, I knew I was doing my health, and my children’s health, a disservice. I remember my mother’s diagnosis of cancer, and I did not want my own children to have to face that.
Two years ago, I traded in my “pack for a pin,” when the American Heart Association and the New York State Smokers Quitline teamed up to offer the red dress pin to all quitters. The red dress pin, symbol of the “Go Red for Women” campaign, has served as a tangible reminder that I am improving my heart health by not smoking.
Smoking rates have decreased since passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act. Yet, 18 percent of New Yorkers still smoke, greatly increasing their risk for a heart attack — and increasing the risk of those subjected to their secondhand smoke.
If, like I did until two years ago, you still smoke, please contact the New York State Smokers Quitline (www.nysmokefree.com) or go to the American Heart Association’s Web site, www.heart.org. You will feel better more quickly than you think, and you will be able to stay inside with friends and family to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Clean Indoor Air Act.
Senior citizens can be an undiscovered treasure
For more than 20 years I had the privilege of spending time with hundreds of Niskayuna senior citizens. To say this was just a job would be like saying that the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground.
For my colleagues, Susan Leonard and Annette Gaylord, and me this was a grand adventure. We had the unique opportunity to become deeply involved in the lives of a generation of individuals who experienced the Great Depression and World War II, and who worked hard to lay the foundation for the unprecedented American prosperity and growth that followed.
Recently, one of our oldest friends, Irene Van Kamerik, passed away at the age of 92. Irene lived in Niskayuna for more than 50 years and, with her husband Jack and sister Gen Freer, began attending the Niskayuna Senior Center about 25 years ago.
She was kind, generous, and lived life with dignity and integrity. Even though she had her own personal difficulties, she was always cheerful and ready to lend a hand, rarely asking for help.
If you are fortunate enough to have an older person in your life, I encourage you to spend as much time with him or her as you can. You may be surprised to hear how they lived their lives — about their hopes and dreams and about the reality of living during very challenging times.
If not, volunteer at a local senior center, hospital or assisted-living facility, and you might meet someone who was a fighter pilot during the war or who played on the first professional hockey team or who flew around the world before retiring from a job with the airlines.
As for me, I was lucky enough to know each of these individuals and so many more.
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