Letters from the week of May 6, 2004

It is no use pressuring Governor Janet Napolitano about this. The fault lies with the Corporation Commission. These clowns are the ones blocking solar power from becoming a reality in our state. Can't have less profits for power company shareholders, can we? Arizonans who want clean energy need to get off their collective butts and elect Corporation Commission officials who will support solar power.
Pat Beck

A wise investment: You made our day a bit more sunny! Thank you for your clear and direct statement about the energy issues facing us in Arizona.

I am one of the cadre you mention who are working to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy here in Arizona. My recent article in Home Power magazine discusses the economics of distributed solar energy. A competitive investment analysis shows that today in Arizona, an investment in supplemental solar electric energy, with incentives, can achieve a better equivalent return than the historical, long-term average rate of the stock market. Without incentives, the solar investment still outperforms comparable, low-risk investments.

At the very least, the peak energy we buy from the utilities is too expensive. If solar were allowed to fairly compete against the heavily subsidized fossil fuel energy industry, then distributed solar energy would command the market here in the Southwest.
Paul Symanski

Cheaper is better: John Dougherty's piece is an example of simplistic energy policy. We could all have cheap, clean power if only the big bad companies would simply let us.

His use of statistics is minimal, but even the statistics he submits are contradictory. Even the author's optimistic figures show that solar power is 100 percent more expensive than conventional power (10 cents versus 5 cents per kilowatt hour). Based on average U.S. electricity consumption (about 3.6 trillion kilowatt hours per year), this is about $600 extra per person. But somehow he also says, "Arizona is letting the Big Three utilities steal countless millions from us by standing in the way of solar energy."

So how can something that costs 100 percent more save us money?! The large utilities have a mission to deliver reliable, affordable power and to meet current environmental laws, and the lack of solar power is simply an effort to minimize rates.

Solar energy is neither good nor bad, it is simply an option with pros and cons. Yes, we could convert a great deal of generation to solar, but this would probably generate large costs for rate-payers and/or taxpayers.
Andrew McNeil

Reckless Abandonment
Jumping to false conclusions: In an otherwise brilliant expos of the crimes committed by polygamists, John Dougherty does Flora Jessop a disservice when he jumps to false conclusions characterizing her actions as reckless ("Too Little, Too Late," April 15).

The same might be said of his one-sided reporting about her activism. There is nothing reckless in rescuing girls from forced marriages, something the state is mandated to do but has yet to accomplish.

The fact that the state refuses to implement Jessop's suggestions as sound public policy reflects poorly on the policy, not her. Why wouldn't two young girls who ran from home to protect themselves be concerned when the state removes contact with their support system, a brother, a sister-in-law, cousins and Flora -- their friend and rescuer? Why would the state make such outrageous moves if its plan is to protect and implement an exit policy for girls escaping forced marriages? Why is the state intent on gagging 16- and 17-year-old girls who want to speak out about their destruction at the hands of old men?

This is why the girls sought outside legal help. The state's only moral position is to immediately release the two from state custody and allow them to live in the loving home of relatives outside of polygamy. To delay their freedom one day longer subjects them to intentional harm. Secrecy, state incompetence and lack of will to prosecute offenders is what allowed these human and civil rights crimes against humanity to exist and flourish.
Linda Walker
Los Angeles

Not all polygamists are bad: Just because the people in Colorado City have problems doesn't mean all polygamous societies are the same. No decent person believes in forced marriage, underage or not.

I don't believe in any underage marriage, but if my 16-year-old daughter came to me and said, "Hey, I'm ready to get married," I certainly would listen to her reasoning.

Perhaps Flora Jessop's motives are noble, but perhaps she has a bone to pick with that society and is stirring up more trouble than truly exists.
Lucy Crosby
Washington County, Utah

Church Chat
Pope pious: Your article was well-researched and exciting. I enjoyed the comedy of Bishop O'Brien's bedside visit to "console" you ("The Divine Sociopath," Michael Lacey, April 15). More important, I'm impressed that the torrid mess in the Catholic church has brought you back to practicing a faith you never seemed to have lost.

You quoted existentialist philosopher Arendt. She writes a profound and exciting prose herself, but she is also a creature of the academic establishment, which suffers from a pathological hatred of God's Church. There was scarcely a class I attended at the University of Minnesota where my faith was not attacked!

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