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Solar-powered inauguration events

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, January 15 2009 under: inauguration, Solar Power Info, Technology, wind, solar

In reviewing the itinerary for this weekend -- an inaugural prelude that will feature Bono, Bruce and Beyonce, among others -- I stumbled upon this, from the New York times Technology section:

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares for his inauguration, a number of groups have planned balls in Washington to celebrate his arrival. One such event is the Green Inaugural Ball, set for prime-time partying at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and featuring Wyclef Jean.

The Web site for the Green Inaugural Ball is hosted by a solar-powered data center. operates the data center and says it has a 20-kilowatt plant fueled by solar panels.

What's more,

...the greenies at the unofficial green event will be tipping glasses of free “local and organic beverages,” while dining “on organic and local ingredients with vegetarian and vegan options,” according to the event’s Web site. They’ll also find printed materials made of recycled paper, flower arrangements produced by local growers and tables, linens and flatware rented from a local company, as opposed to a company in far-off Texas...

How much energy the Green Ball Web site actually consumes is anyone's guess. I'd bet my pants and socks, however, that it's a heck of a lot less than all that jet fuel burned by the four million guests expected in DC for inauguration-related events. (Attendees can offset the carbon emissions from their flight, however, which I suppose is a plus.)

Having read about the Green Ball, I alternate between (1) feeling uplifted and thankful that we live in a society where green party planning is an actual line of business, and (2) feeling a little hallow inside that planners deem their use of recycled paper and locally rented flatware worthy of special accolade. (What do you want, a cookie?)

To be fair, renewable energy credits will be purchased to offset electricity use, as murky as the details may be. According to the Green Ball Web site, Event Emissary will

make every effort to reduce the power consumption of the Green Ball. The power used to produce the event will be offset by the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits from American Wind, Renewable Choice Energy’s signature portfolio.

Anyway, at 500 bucks a pop, the tickets don't come cheap. But, then again, who am I to determine the fair price for a chance to see Wyclef Jean in a venue so green it makes *regular* parties look dangerously irresponsible and downright filthy. Ah, the price of a clean conscience... In the end, of course, shrewd observers likely realize that the real chance to tackle energy- and environment-related challenges won't come this weekend. Rather, it will come over the course of the next four years -- and beyond. 'Til then, you may as well drink your organic drink, and bask in the warm glow of bulbs powered by renewables.

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