Technical Writing Final Project

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This was submitted as my final project for my technical writing course. It is a hypothetically written recommendation report on sustainable energy initiatives for the City of Beech Grove. I am no expert on sustainable energy, but this is intended to present some of my technical writing skills including use of a simple and clear language, page design, as well as photos, figures, and captions.

Text of Technical Writing Final Project

  • A Sustainable Beech Grove

    1

    A Sustainable Beech Grove

    TO: Beech Grove City Council Members

    FROM: Katrina Korn, ENGL 421 Student

    DATE: December 13, 2011

    SUBJECT: A More Sustainable Beech Grove:

    Recommendation Report

  • A Sustainable Beech Grove

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Background and motivation.3

    Turning methane gas into power.4

    Proposal..4

    Plan...4

    Solar panel initiative.6

    Proposal ...6

    Plan...6

    Wind turbine farm initiative...8

    Proposal.8

    Plan...9

    Concluding remarks..10

    References..11

  • A Sustainable Beech Grove

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    Background and Motivation

    Currently, Beech Grove lacks any sort of sustainable energy initiatives. Before three specific proposals and plans to implement them are addressed, background information is needed to drive home the increasing importance of using sustaina-ble energy. Several companies, organizations, and communities across the coun-try are expressing and acting on the important issue of sustainable energy for a more sustainable future. Indianapolis Power and Light, Habitat for Humanity, EDP Renewables, enXco are just a few examples. Beech Grove will benefit from collaborating and being inspired by these entities to make the transition to a city that is aware of and promotes the necessity of alternative energy sources recog-nizing that one day these may be our only options for power.

    It is often easy to be apathetic about using alternative energy because we are not likely to see the rewards from it or the consequences of not using it in our life-time. Not only will these efforts reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the environ-ment and make the future a better place for future generations, it will grant Beech Grove the recognition it deserves as a city planning for a better future from residents to other cities alike. The following three initiatives will be presented in the following format:

    Proposal (What) reasoning behind the initiative

    Plan (How) resources (human, technology) needed and actions to be taken to accomplish the proposed initiative.

    Bringing these ideas to fruition and making them a reality will take hard-work, fo-cus, time, and a desire to instill their importance in others. Interacting with com-munity leaders, community members, and making them feel involved in the for-ward effort will be key to the success of these recommendations. The remainder of this report presents three key initiatives for the city.

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    Turning Methane Gas into Power

    *It should be noted this initiative is different from that listed in the proposal memorandum.

    Proposal

    Methane gas is a product of deteriorating organic waste in landfills and sewers. Since Beech Grove has both of these types of facilities within its borders, con-verting this harmful gas to useful power is an obvious choice. Hancock County in Indiana and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have evidence that con-verting methane to useful power works. This is one potential power source that can be tapped while reducing environmental insult from methane emissions (Weilbaker). According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of me-thane emissions with the greatest opportunity loss (LMOP). A search of reports reviewing this type of initiative was conducted over the last several weeks and I have discovered a multitude of reasons methane is an excellent source for sus-tainable energy. To begin, methane is being continuously produced as long as sol-id waste exists. Chances are this will be for an extremely long time. It is pro-duced naturally by decaying organic waste. Landfills and sewers are both obvious sources of methane-producing organic waste. Beech Grove has a sewer system and a small landfill that are perfect sites for harness energy produced by the burning of this chemical. Not only are emissions from methane burning cleaner than petroleum, the process will also reduce harmful methane in the atmos-phere. This effort calls for expertise beyond our current resources, and collabora-tion with an energy or engineering company can potentially help with this ven-ture. The added cost of hiring a company to install and maintain technology will surely be unremarkable compared to the positive impact on the atmosphere. For instance, Hancock County hired Granger Electric Company to fund their project from which revenue is split between granger and the county itself (Hancock County Solid Waste Management District).

    Plan

    As with any practical new initiative, there is a need for resources, capital, land, time, technology, and human resources. The EPA should be contacted first and foremost. The EPA is the source of information about using methane from land-fills and is a potential source of funds (Weilbaker). The largest source of funds and information comes from the Landfill Methane Outreach program, or LMOP (LMOP). In some instances, the EPA also provides operational support in setting up the technology.

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    Technological requirements include but are not limited to vertical or horizontal wells through which methane is collected by a vacuum mechanism (LMOP). Please refer to the figures below detailing these two types of systems. Both types are not necessary and the types needed will be determined by the techno-logical experts. These photos were taken from the EPAs LMOP page (LMOP).

    Figure 2A horizontal collecting well (LMOP)

    Figure 1A vertical collecting well (LMOP)

    The collection system will cost a total of $24,000/acre with a maintenance cost of $2,250 (LMOP). If the cost of the system is split between our city and a con-tracting company such as Granger Electric and the EPA, this initiative could be quite feasible. The entire effort will require oversight by the city board of sanita-tion in addition to any hired expertise.

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    1.) Solar Panels

    Proposal

    One year ago, I had the honor of organizing and participating in an alternative Spring Break program through Habitat for Humanity called Collegiate Challenge. Without going into great detail, the Habitat for Humanity campus chapter of Pur-due University organizes and sends around 50 students to different Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country to serve families in need of decent, afford-able housing. Last year, I participated in one of these trips to Port Huron, Michi-gan. One of the ways we served that community was by going conducting infor-mal door-to-door surveys about how residents view Habitat for Humanitys mis-sion and role in their community. Michigan has been one of the hardest hit states in terms of the recent and ongoing economic downturn, and some residents had critical views of Habitat for Humanitys Greenhouse prototype. This house was completely powered by sustainable energy modalities including solar panels. Personally, hearing their concerns about capital resources gave me perspective on the limits of these types of endeavors. In other words, I have a better idea about the type of investments this may require from the city. Financial concerns for business and residents will be the largest obstacle to overcome for the suc-cess of this endeavor. No extra land is necessary for this type of sustainable ener-gy, only willing residents, businesses, and a company to provide and install the panels.

    Plan

    Because the installation of solar panels involves serious capital investment that may be beyond the means of several homeowners in this town, a door-to-door survey needs to be conducted by city representatives or volunteers to assess the interest of the general public. Marketing and promotion is just as important as the technology. This survey can be conducted over several weeks (5-7) at differ-ent levels to ensure those who are willing to install solar panels are truly com-mitted. Beech Grove will need to form a task force or a committee of volunteers (likely current board members or city workers) to move the effort forward and as-sist homeowners in the purchase and installation of these solar panels. In addi-tion, a city wide mandate could be made requiring businesses to use solar panels to power at least 25% of their energy needs. Depending on the financial status of the company, the city should budget a portion of funds to assist businesses until this effort is established. Again, each company is different and therefore those with smaller incomes will be given a longer amount of time to implement this new requirement (up to three years for companies with the smallest incomes).

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    A local company that sells solar panels needs to be contacted and consulted for their opinion on the best type of solar panels for businesses and/or residents so that they may ship and install the panels. Evergreen Solar is one such company. Another option for funding and publicity is to contact Habitat for Humanity of Indianapolis and propose they build a greenhouse similar to the one in Michi-gan mentioned above in this section. They would also be able to provide in-sight into the best companies from which to purchase the solar panels. Compa-nies such as the Western Indiana Sustainable Energy Resource or WISER (Bergstrom) Indiana are also great resources because they exist to implement and promote sustainable energy in Indiana. The figure below outlines how a solar panel functions (Wyse).

    Figure 3Energy production by a solar panel

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    2.) Small Wind Farm

    Proposal

    Indiana has recently seen some chang