We’ve all heard some form of the notion that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set in motion a chain of events that causes a hurricane in China. It’s a way to express how complex systems like our weather or the environment are tied together by complex relationships that are difficult to recognize or understand.
This past year, much of Ohio experienced above-normal precipitation. Many of our farmers were severely impacted — the unusual weather disrupted their planting season and production routines and affected their livelihood. Ohio farmers (especially in the northwestern part of the state) have spread only a small fraction of manure and applied a greatly reduced quantity of fertilizer on their fields as compared to recent years. Yet, destructive algae blooms in Lake Erie will again present a major problem.
While many experts have been saying reduced application of manure and fertilizer to fields in northwest Ohio is the answer to Lake Erie’s woes, it appears that is not the case. It goes to show that this issue, like many others, is far more complicated than it might seem at a first glance. Solutions to environmental and other complex problems (such as climate change, immigration, opioid addiction, and more) are never quite as easy as some folks claim. We’d all like the answers to our difficult problems to be easy, but they rarely are.
Generators of electricity, such as Buckeye Power, often feel that same pinch. We’ve invested more than $1.5 billion to make our operations cleaner and cleaner and to reduce our environmental impact. We believe it’s the right thing to do — both as your trusted energy source and as your neighbor.
We strive for nothing less than to produce safe, reliable, and affordable electricity with a minimal environmental footprint, but each change to the system has its own set of consequences. It can be difficult or even dangerous to assume an easy solution to a complicated situation. We will continue to do our due diligence in anticipating those consequences as we focus on our mission of providing electricity to Ohio’s cooperative consumer-members.