George Harvey

Power to the people

Brattleboro solar entrepreneur organizes a crowdfunding effort to bring emergency solar power to Puerto Rico as it struggles to rebuild

Many people in southeastern Vermont have been aware of the GoFundMe campaign that was set up by Joseph Mangum, of Sunnyside Solar in West Brattleboro. It is collecting donations to provide solar systems for people in need in Puerto Rico.

Sunnyside Solar has a long history. It was founded by Richard Gottlieb and Carol Levin, selling its first photovoltaic (PV) panel in 1983. At that time, many people did not even know solar panels were available, but Gottlieb was already an old hand. He had started with PVs by installing solar cells on the satellites in the Vanguard program, which ran from 1957 to 1959. He was undeniably a solar pioneer.

When Gottlieb died, in 2012, Levin briefly suspended business operations and then reopened in West Brattleboro, next to the Chelsea Royal Diner. As time passed, she brought in Joseph Mangum, eventually passing the business to him.

Now Mangum is writing a new and very interesting chapter in the business's long history. He is putting solar systems together and taking them, along with other important materials, down to Puerto Rico, to help people whose lives have been disrupted by hurricanes Irma and Maria. He will spend three weeks working there.

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From the left, a swell of activism fights wind and solar

Wind turbines are not the problem. Hatred is the problem. And that hatred is a problem we need to address, if we are to save ourselves from climate change.

The Vermont Public Service Board has sent recommendations to the Legislature for new sound standards for utility-scale wind projects. Critics say the standards are so strict that they effectively kill development of wind power in the state. This has come as a surprise to a number of people who...

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Vermonters can look to Austria as model for renewable energy

The debate on the Vermont Energy Plan has been hot and heavy. Many people say that achieving a 90-percent reliance on renewable power by 2050 is impossible, would be too costly, or will require new technology that might never be developed. One thing no one seems to notice, however,

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Bad numbers from the nuclear industry

Aside from the actual meltdowns themselves, two different kinds of nuclear accidents are just as bad. One is an explosion ejecting spent fuel, typically at a reprocessing plant. The other is a spent fuel fire, such as in the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. We could lump them together and call them “dangerous fuel accidents.” Each of our worldwide 432 commercial nuclear reactors adds one reactor year for every year it runs, so the various nuclear reactors...

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Easy to imagine how a catastrophic failure can happen at VY

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NRC drags its heels on cooling problem at Vermont Yankee

The bottom line is that Vermont Yankee can melt down, leading to an environmental disaster. And it could do so in spite of its so-called emergency core cooling system. We have been told by the nuclear industry for years that this could not happen, that American power plants had made improvements since the accident at Three Mile Island, that they were designed better than the plant at Chernobyl, and that such accidents simply could not happen, or at least that...

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What else would you expect from Entergy?

Vermont Yankee is an old plant, at the end of its original service life, and it is running at 120 percent of its originally intended ability.  The company running it is trying hard not to put money into its maintenance unnecessarily.  What can you expect but breakdowns? As Vermonters, we might console ourselves that a bit of tritium getting into the groundwater is not all that terrible.  It might have been much, much worse.  Instead of being in Vernon, where...

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