Likes that Ameren provides electricity in economical, reliable manner

To the editor:

I read Ginny Schrappen’s missive in the Sept. 26 issue, and was immediately reminded of the quote: “Man is a rational animal.”

A philosophy professor in my formative years added to this that we are “passional” animals as well. The author’s passion regarding the Ameren plant is apparent. However, rational thought regarding the same is not.

I live within a mile of Ameren’s Meramec plant. I’m aware that it generates — in addition to electricity — coal ash, carbon dioxide and a whole potential litany of trace elements discharged at some level through its smoke stacks.

I’m not familiar with the intricacies of its exhaust scrubbers, but assume that at least some measure of control — electrostatic precipitation, etc. — is present to reduce them. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I don’t give it much thought. I like the fact that Ameren provides electricity to my household in an economical and reliable manner, and assume its operating permits and oversight provide reasonable assurance of public safety.

Maybe I am all wet in these beliefs, but the solar and wind alternatives touted by the author are a pipe dream at present.

To generate equivalent power to replace the Meramec plant, scores of square miles of land would need to be transformed into wind farms or solar “factories.” I’d much rather have a reliable, proven and compact source of electric power generation near me than have to look at thousands of solar panels cluttering the landscape in all directions.

Wind turbines? More of the same — plus increased wildlife mortality.

Of course, the author would probably love to live amongst such desolation and welcome the presence of this industrial visage in her neighborhood, rather than hypocritically cry: “Not in my back yard,” thus foisting this eyesore on others.

And has the author considered the environmental impacts of the mining and chemical processing required to extract the rare-earth compounds used in the high-strength magnets and solar panels needed by these “earth-friendly” technologies? Of course not — they aren’t mined or processed in Oakville. That’s someone else’s problem, too. It’s easy and popular to utter, “Think of the children,” but shouldn’t we also consider the children where these other supporting activities occur?

Both solar and wind power are subject to the vagaries of nature, while the reliability of coal-fired plants is proven. Low-powered lighting and small appliances can easily be accommodated by exclusive use of either alternative energy source on many scales, but reliable operation of high-power consumptive equipment relied upon by industry cannot on a consistent basis.

Even the power demands of residential air conditioning units can be a challenge on a large-scale basis.

While solar- and wind-generated power have their place, these technologies are not yet mature enough for exclusive use — particularly when you look at their environmental consequences as a whole.

While this may change in time, only rational and prudent implementation will get us to that point.

Sadly, prudence is a trait that has rapidly disappeared in public matters over the past few years.

Mike Trimble, P.E.