Readers comments 4-26-19
Police station costs plummet
Now it appears to be absolutely clear that Claremont voters were right to reject the $50,000,000 Measure PS and its sequel, last year’s $24,000,000 Measure SC.
These earlier police station funding measures were so far out of the bounds of reality in so many ways.
In fact, we now hear at a city meeting that the police can get their building for $18,865,000 in 2019 dollars and that the existing police station building is perfectly usable, and can even serve as the first floor to a second story without substantial structural work.
While the building may have some deficiencies due to current seismic standards, the engineer hired by the city assured the committee that “the issues can be isolated and addressed.”
He said it was a very stout building and had substantial salvage value. This salvage value, in part, is why his 2019 estimate of the cost is down to $18,865,000, a decrease of more than 60 percent from the inflated price of the Measure PS station and, depending on how you figure it, down some 25 percent from last year’s Measure SC.
Just what the current citizens’ committee will recommend is anyone’s guess: from one side of the room, there appears to be interest in cutting the square footage and therefore the cost even more; on the other side of the room, there are murmurings from supporters of SC and PS that “we can’t tell the public this can be done for $18 million.”
And in this transparent city of Claremont, we’ll never know why it took 17 years and three citizens’ committees to get even to this point.
Ludd A. Trozpek
New energy storage
Recently a new electricity storage technology came to my attention by the name of Energy Vault. Actually, this is based on a very old technology for a “battery” and something that is ubiquitous in the world, namely, gravity. That’s right gravity.
Energy Vault uses one of the most elemental of forces in nature to store renewable electricity produced by wind and solar. This overcomes one of the big objections to renewable sources of power, or the intermittency of solar panels and wind turbines (the wind does not always blow, and the sun does not always shine).
Moreover, this new use of an old technology allows Energy Vault to state that when matched with solar and wind generation they can supply the world with the least expensive method for delivering power on a 24-7-365 basis. This new technology is less expensive than coal, natural gas, diesel, gasoline, nuclear and all other sources of generated power.
Not only does this work in all areas of the world, it is almost laughable in its simplicity. Who knew the renewable energy revolution would be based on something so fundamental as rocks and gravity?
Thirty-five ton (70,000 pound) custom “bricks” made of concrete, dirt, sand, gravel and construction debris form the basis for the storage system. Even toxic wastes and the dangerous byproducts of burning coal (fly ash) can be used to build the massive bricks, which are lifted using cables when the sun is out or the wind is blowing. When the stored potential energy is needed these bricks are lowered, spinning a generator and supplying electricity to all who need it.
Simple. Cheap. Powerful. And, best of all, no degradation exists in the capacity to deliver power over a 30-year lifespan, unlike chemical batteries which immediately start losing their “punch” on the first day of use.
This technology only works where there are rocks and gravity in the world—or, in other words, everywhere! So, thanks to this California technology, the renewable energy revolution is here today. The Energy Vault technology was developed by Bill Gross of IdeaLab in Pasadena, and perfected right here in the Golden State.
Unfortunately, the first towers will be built in India and other countries which have rushed to be the first in line. Once again, innovations developed here in California are being accepted quickly overseas, allowing others to leap ahead of those who actually developed the new techniques.
This spring, an executive with Energy Vault came to Claremont and gave a presentation at Harvey Mudd College on the new way to store energy. The top physicists at Mudd gave the presentation a “thumbs up,” as did some of the top energy activists in our community (including Devon Hartman, Richard Haskell and Mark von Wodke).
Claremont should be a leader in adopting this new technology, blazing the trail for others to follow. See more at energyvault.ch.
Peter L. Coye