Mega-wind project south of T.F. progresses. Bulk of electricity likely to go out of state [to Nevada]. By Matt Christensen
Times-News writer.

I’m sick and tired of Idaho being raped and Idaho poisoned for the sake of making money in Nevada.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

49 Responses to Mega-wind project south of Twin Falls, Idaho progresses. Bulk of electricity likely to go out of state

  1. avatar Monte says:

    Congrats on the new wind farm. Welcome to the radical enviros view of the future. Western landscapes cluttered and blocked by gigantic inefficient windmills. Just go on up to Harlowton, MT and look at the magnificent Snowy Mountain Range, oh wait, yeah, right there, behind the wind farm. This is ridiculous, and you have only yourselves to blame.

  2. No Monte, this kind of wind energy (or solar) is not the brainchild of “radio enviros,” it is what you get when the corporate establishment takes a good idea and turns it into something awful.

    The alternatives of wind and solar were not just any kind of use of the wind or the sun, it was to be with “appropriate technology.” This means use these sources of energy at the scale and in the manner they are most efficient.

    If you want to heat water for home, or everyday business use, does it make sense to build some remote centralized facility and connect it to the grid with efficiency losses all along the way to the water heater? Or does it make more sense to heat the water directly on top of a roof or in a facility the serves a city block or some similiar geographic division?

    How about a neighborhood wind turbine?

    In addition to causing less environmental damage, localized facilities don’t need to be guarded from terrorists.

    A centralized grid such as we have and keep expanding is not compatible with community, democracy, or the environment.

  3. avatar vicki says:

    I think that wind energy and solar energy are great ideas, when used correctly. I agree with Ralph, each metropolis needs to utilize their own. But I also wonder about migratory patterns of birds, and other possible issues there may be.
    I think solar energy use is awesome, and new industry could be created to build more cost effective panels, but then we’d have “ugly” houses (like that matters!) Wind harnessing is great too, and not nearly as hideous as Denver’s huge brown cloud. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When used correctly and purposefully, both alternatives could be a huge asset environmentally.
    But then, so is turning off all lights, unplugging everything not in emmediate use, winding up clocks instead of plugging them in….. using the same water bottles over again, recycling paper, eating less beef, etc.
    I was recently told that vegetarians help preserve more environmentally than any other group, and they don’t spend a dime to do it.
    I also know that there is a bottled water company in Ouray, Colorado (BIOTA WATER) that uses 100% biodegradeable packaging, but is not thriving because they can’t compete with Dasani,, etc. Seems to me that there should be huge monetary kick backs, or tax breaks for eco friendly companies. Lots of good ideas have less success than we hope for, but I keep hoping anyhow. It’s better to have good ideas, and fix them when they go awry, than no ideas and no good intentions, and pollution out the whazoo.
    We have the right technology (or as close as we may ever get), we just need to apply it appropriately.

  4. avatar kt says:

    These giant wind farms in remote public lands are terrible for wildlife and the public.

    The “developer” is RES UK (United Kingdom) but who knows who these mega-energy firms really are – wants cheap use of a criticial sage grouse and pygmy rabbit high plateau — to permanenlty destroy with dynamited roading galore and huge turbines.

    Wind may have its place – but it is not remote mountain ridges in sagebrush country on public lands.

    This is just greed and big energy companies running all over America;s wildllfe – once again.

    There is a tremendous amount of wind energy potential on marginal ag lands that are already pretty much destroyed and closer to the existing grid. It’s just that the foreign companies want the very windiest. It’s disgusting.

  5. avatar matt bullard says:

    Ralph, I like the idea of decentralized power generation. However, I don’t see how we aren’t going to make progress without large CO2-free energy generation as a portion or a larger, clean energy portfolio. At some point, we are going to have to stop saying no to everything. And why can’t we make some money selling clean power to Nevada?(Seriously, can someone explain this to me?) All power generation, even local, small-scale/decentralized will have its tradeoffs. What are we willing to accept (or not) to solve the problem we are in?

  6. Matt,

    What you mean when you say that “we” could make money selling clean power to Nevada?

    If you use sunlight to heat water directly near its point of use, that is as CO2-free as it is if you use sunlight to boil water 600 miles away from its point to use, then use the boiling water to turn a turbine to create electricity, then send the electricity over a transmission line to where you want to heat water at its final point of use.

    The generation of any kind of energy produces negative eternalities, such as pollution to falling off the roof while putting up a solar panel; but an important question is the degree to which those who bear the negative externalities are the same as those who enjoy the benefits of the power.

    I’d say the article about the people in Utah who are protesting the coal plant upwind from them in Nevada are some folks who have figured out that they bear the harmful externalities while someone else enjoys the benefits.

    . . . the same with wind.

  7. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    the efficiency consideration is critical from my perspective. large-scale wind generation seems like a good idea until one considers the ramifications KT notes – and the potential to human well-being that Ralph iterates. we’re dealing with wildlife issues and public land use issues that deserve a thorough second thought – it’s not enough to say that wind is ‘better than’ other so we should throw these generators wherever. we don’t need to trade sage grouse, we don’t need to compromise pygmy rabbits, we don’t need to further privatize public domains. period.

    that would be an incredible waste of a politically salient issue that has the potential to generate a broad awareness concerning the most basic economic commodity there is — thus, the way this shift takes places has the opportunity to benefit our environment, our local economies, and ultimately the actual level of individual freedom and sovereignty individuals and communities are able to experience and express.

    i think that Ralph is right on in suggesting that the shift ought swing toward more localized generation of energy. i like this, the more direct we can make energy production to the actual user, the more efficient that use is going to be and the more stable the energy supply will be all around. it also has the benefit of making the end-user more conscious of their energy-use choices, something woefully absent right now. considering the economic dependency on energy each community has, to keep it within community, and if a person can, to generate it oneself, ensures a practical level of actual economic sovereignty that each community choosing this course will hold into the future. as well as economic security. people and communities don’t have to thrive or dive under the thumb of choices made outside their communities. democratizing energy production puts the most fundamental power of the political and economic choices back into individual and local community’s hands — that’s freedom.

    and once again, i’d like to throw in there a consideration that is all-too-often lost when we consider energy issues:

    consuming for conservation is like
    war-ing for peace is like
    $%&#ing for virginity

    IMHO anyone who honestly believes that we’re going to solve this fundamental problem by figuring out some nice new technology that enables us to continue to consume energy at the levels that we are now, let alone growth projections, and base our ‘standard of living’ almost exclusively on material acquisition is out of their minds. keep kicking those cans i suppose.

    we have the technology to radically reduce energy consumption at a fraction of the cost of more energy generation. this has the potential to more than cover projections of future demand. and it might even be wise to start figuring out ways of suggesting to people that many of the wasteful uses of energy aren’t wise — say, working to internalize costs so that a consumer is faced with the actual cost of their purchase. just stop subsidizing over-consumption — that’s what these wind farms on public lands do, they subsidize over consumption. energy conservation can be done on the local/user level right now, and it usually means cost savings in the long run.

    none of this will happen when there are so many willing to embrace the paradigm of perpetual consumptive growth by endorsing less-than-half measures aimed at averting the controversy of suggesting that maybe more and more species, and public lands, and other publicly held values aren’t worth this compulsive development anymore.

    it takes the integrity and robust dedication of folk willing to agitate that predisposition to cultivate this new way of thinking about the direction. i am thankful to folk like KT for that .

    What if the problem wasn’t about the need to generate, what if it’s about the willingness to waste ?

  8. avatar Monte says:

    Ralph, I agree with you also about more localized, small scale energy production. These wind farms are not that by a long shot. Coal is abundant, the potential for reclamation of coal mines is good, and it is far more efficient to meet our energy demands with coal than with these obnoxious wind farms. Whose idea were these wind turbines again? The only reason big business is interested in building these things is all the subsidies and tax advantages offered to them by the government. They don’t make money or sense in the long run. The government does this to satisfy the human caused global warming dupes.

  9. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I grew up in a passive solar home in Boise that was built in 1981. It wasn’t an ugly home and we used a 10th of the energy that conventional homes the same size use. I am strongly considering making a straw bale home and following some important principles when I build it. There is a better way and these matchstick mansions are poor in efficiency and just don’t stand the test of time.

    http://buildingwithawareness.com/

    Coal would be a disaster, it is filled with mercury on top of the greenhouse gasses and it is obviously dangerous to mine. I think you have been duped Monte.

  10. avatar vicki says:

    I don’t think solar panels make a home ugly either, but I know a lot of people do. I know of a realtor who told me he has a hard time selling solar powered houses in the area I live in because of the cosmetics. That will be an issue that people will need to overcome. I’d buy a house with panels on the roof.
    I’ve been told that converting to solar power is very pricey?
    Many things we do to conserve energy are. I replaced windows and doors a few years ago, so we’d use less energy, and it was a big price tag. So why don’t we have more incentives? More assistance? That would be a huge motivation for a lot of people.
    Buffaloed, there is a man in Colorado who specializes in building bale houses. I’ll try to find out his name, (DBH is awesome at finding these things out too!-Wealth of knowledge!) I believe he sells plans and may have published a book. I have seen him on a number of TV shows, head-lined as an environmentalist. It might be a good read for you.
    So we all know solar energy is an awesome alternative energy. But is wind just bad? I don’t think so. Again, if done correctly, I think it’s better than what we do now.
    Why couldn’t it be localized? It would be better for national security, the environment, etc.
    Yet I hear the same complaint about wind trubines as I do about solar panels.
    Though solar panels on a roof undoubtedly have a smaller impact on animals, people will still complain about how ugly panels and win turbines are.. because some humans are just that damn shallow.
    Are turbines in sage grouse habitat worse than drilling, or cheat grass, or grazing? I think sometimes we do have to choose the lesser of two evils. I doubt we’ll stop them all from happening. We might be able to push the turbines to an area with lower impact though. BUT I strongly agree with them being neighborhood based.
    I know that many of the blades being made for the wind turbines are going to be made in Windsor, CO. This is an area that is in need of jobs, and the plant will provide many good paying jobs. I doubt you’d convince many folks around here that it’s bad to use the turbines. But you might convince them to put them in certain areas as opposed to others.
    Colorado is becoming a hot spot for alternatives… ethanol (which I don’t think is as great as it’s cracked up to be) and wind turbines, light-rail transportation, “green” houses, and a leader in hybrid sales. Maybe someone here should figure out how to make cost effective kits to convert to solar energy. Wait, that would mean that the power companies would lose money…and I am pretty sure they own a legislator or two.

  11. Remember this is power for Las Vegas, a city built to defy the cllimate and land it sits on.

    I don’t think there is any reason to keep feeding them new energy. If the electricity supply available to them does not increase, electricity price will rise there, and the two will become equal regardless.

  12. avatar vicki says:

    excellent point

  13. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    The book is—“Building With Awareness”, by Ted Owens.
    I think Robert Andrews is a contractor who builds bale houses.
    { If the pig had only known…..}

  14. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    Coal *IS* a disaster. As long as the same handful of executives continue to profit and hoard those profits, coal usage will continue. I do not think they should be permitted to build any new facilities, and should be required to refurbish existing facilities to be more environmentally friendly. Very strict EPA laws/standards. The coal companies answer to no one. I spent a few days driving around PA, and WV. I lived there for a few years also, and have seen the horrendous effects this industry has on the people and the land. There are areas in WV that can be classified as “third world”.
    There are waste dumps just yards from a school, where the water from the taps is always dark brown, high rates of cancer and other health problems. The people there haven’t any rights, nor do they have anyone to help them. If you think about it, the coal producing states should be the wealthiest in the nation.
    It is not uncommon to have your house “shot up” if you speak against “the company”. A couple of years ago a coal company employee drove to home and repeatedly fired shots into the house to get their message across. The man killed a seven year old boy who was sleeping in the house.
    The coal industry has been slowly killing people in WV with toxic chemicals for years.

    On my trip i visited two mountain top removal operations, found some new hills–giant slag piles–the air quality is so much worse from 18 years ago, very noticeable changes.
    I also went to Centralia, PA, the site of an underground coal fire that has been burning for 45 years, and the nearest town the fire is advancing towards. The fire could be under the town in less than two years. The coal in that area is the hardest type, anthracite.

    I could go on writing, but will end with the point being that the coal industry cannot be allowed to expand, cannot be trusted, and it’s not want you want “in your back yard”.

    Oregon and wind farms—About seven years ago a swedish wind farm company, tried really hard to come to Oregon, promising big money. The state told them to take a hike. In the past few months another company has been lobbying to fill up the gorge area with wind farms. So far that has been put to a stop because the area is the scenic part of the Columbia Gorge. Another factor against was, the amount and variety of birds in the area would be negatively impacted. It will be interesting to see if after a while another company will make an attempt.

  15. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    it just continues to amaze me how all of this emphasis remains on the production/generation of energy – when there is absolutely no reason, economic or otherwise, not to employ energy conservation alternatives that are vastly less expensive in both ecological and economic terms.

    i don’t care whether it’s wind, nuclear, coal, hydro, geothermal, oil, ethanol, etc. — there are consequences and so much that’s already produced is wasted – gone before being employed because of ludicrous infrastructure or wasteful machines and appliances that could all use a mere fraction if there was any incentive to do so — even if just the subsidy and externalization of cost were minutely removed…

    NO MORE SUBSIDIZED POWER PLANTS UNTIL CONSERVATION ALTERNATIVES ARE SUBSIDIZED UNTIL EXHAUSTED

  16. avatar Monty says:

    “Kiss” the wide open spaces of the west goodbye as everything I read is about quantity trumping quality. How can anyone, who can walk & chew gum, believe that the quality of life will be improved by adding millions more humans to this country? “Progress” is the sum of it’s parts that includes more crime, more pavement, more utility lines, more crowded highways, more prisons, more consumption, more dysfunctional cities & ever upward! Is the “Club for Growth” right in believing that we can consume our way into an Earthly Paradise? All enviromental issues in the end are about human eithics or lack thereof. The human numbers & consumption issue is not even close to being on the national political agenda, The stock market graphs measure the economic “health” of this country while there are no corresponding graphs that measure the ecological & human health of this country!

  17. avatar kt says:

    Everyone needs to take an active role in making sure ANY candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama – understand — and OPPOSE – these horrible giant wind farms. And in the case of Browns Bench in the Jardbige – RES UK is a FOREIGN energy company. Who knows who they really are? I met two of their Reps, in a meeting a coupe years ago. These were nasty, meanspirited folks.

    How absurd is it that the U. S. under Bush is allowing its precious public lands, scenery and wildlife habitat to be destroyed by a foreign energy company? And some enviros are happily falling in line.

    I just got an e-mail from Greenpeace today saying sometihng about “The time has come for wind” and supporting a giant offshore wind farm.

    No – none of these giant “farms” is the answer. All that is is more BIG ENERGY aiming to exploit us all.

  18. avatar vicki says:

    KT
    What would you propose that we do differently? How would you get power? Obviously the turbines are less than attractive, but have you seen Denver’s ever growing brown cloud lately? If you haven’t, give it a year or two… everyone will. It is horrible. Maybe we don’t need “HUGE” wind farms, but perhaps small local farms wouldn’t be the worst idea? Maybe they could be put in a more environmentally strategic place?
    I just know if we keep using coal, petroleum, etc, we won’t have land , air or animals to worry about,,, heck we won’t have lungs. We may need to evolve and grow gills, at the rate that we cause global warming, we’ll all be under water soon.
    What effect do they think the turbines have on global warming? Less than coal I would think?
    We can’t just say theat they look bad, waste habitat and effect animals… even if it’s true, saying “NO” to everything doesn’t give an alternative to anything. Instead of just protesting, I wish we had more focus on alternatives or solutions that were more viable for everyone. Maybe when we say “no, don’t build that there”, we should say “would it be better to do this?”
    Otherwise you shoot down every idea, and tick off some very ingenuative people who look to solve problems of global proportions. Wouldn’t it be better to reach these people with compromises and seek their expertize to find solutions? Get them to work on a solution that would better things? Work with and not just against? (Sorry, I am obviously a poor speller.)

  19. avatar dbaileyhill says:

    Vicki, you got it. The key is trying to find a way to get people to work together. I do not understand what has happened in American culture that created the “it’s my way, or nothing at all” attitude. Many people are just automatically defensive, and under no circumstances will they work with anyone. Self- importance, and a me, me, me obsession. The catch phrase is “it’s all about me”. People even wear t-shirts with that printed on them. It aggravates me to no end, because nothing moves forward or improves.
    There also seems to be a tendency that to begin anything, the focus is on differences, to the point that no one can get past them. Humility and coming together with the intent of focusing on commonalities would be a start, as that way people get to know each other.
    I do not know what the key is, but i know how to begin. Another common phrase is, “Be the change you want to see” or something to that effect. Being a good example just with actions doesn’t seem to be rubbing off on anyone. I wonder if people have become so “dead to the world”, that they are not going to wake up to the world “out here”.
    I guess i have some more studying to do….

  20. avatar vicki says:

    dbh,
    I think so many people are lost, they hav spent so much time fighting against something, they don’t remember how to head toward anything else. I know that fighting for what is right can mean standing up to what is wrong. But just fighting period, is pointless. It is quite discouraging.
    I see some many intelligent posts here. But sometimes, I think people are talking to such a small group of people, they are aiming at persuading their intellectual equals. They may not notice that they are among the minority. They need to persuade the “Common Joe”. We should realize that the majority of people are not influenced by babbling staistics or reciting rules… they just want to know how things effect them. What good will come of making changes, and what good will come to them. The are not influences by arguements, or facts… they are motivated by their own bottom dollar, or their own heart. Move the heart and move the mountain.
    I guess I relate more to the “Common Joe.” Maybe I’m out classed here. But I know I am changing a person a day, and not by being opposing. We can still make things happen.
    I figure, while everyone heads toward a stale-mate, I will teach another household to unplug everything not immediately in use, encourage people to buy toilets that use less water… because I can getthem 50 dollars back on their taxes, etc. They may be baby steps, but they are going forward.

  21. avatar matt bullard says:

    Vicki, well said in your recent comments. Wind is not a panacea, but it should be part of the solution we are looking for. It is unfortunate that some choose to oppose these types of projects outright instead of trying to work to make them better. No cannot be the answer to everything, and conservation alone won’t cut it, though its a great place to start. I refuse to believe that simply because a project is “massive” or located on public land, or operated by a foreign company, or that the energy will be sold out of state that it should be opposed outright. These are all entry points to a discussion about the merits of the project in question and targets for improvement or change. Anyway, that’s just how I’d look at something like this.

    I think everyone should read “Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalist to the Politics of Possibility.” It might be a tough pill to swallow, but it has certainly made me think about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the environmental movement. The discussion on the politics of limits is particularly relevant to this thread…

  22. Monty is right.
    Adding millions of humans to our country is the problem we need to face. I’m for wind farms that replace salmon killing dams, but not for wind farms that supply more power for additional population growth. We need to replace some of our dams and coal powered plants with more environmental friendly electricity sources, but adding anything to fuel more growth is insane.

  23. avatar Heather says:

    Larry: how do you suggest we stop the population boom? Are you talking about immigration? Outside of that, we still have population boom within our own country.

  24. avatar kt says:

    Hitching your hopes for addressing global warming on huge foreign-owned corporations like RES UK (and their Attorney, the failed Bush Ninth Circuit nominee Bill Myers) building windfarms in remote and beautiful public lands areas like Browns Bench is madness.

    Building a wnd farm on Browns Bench would be to sage grouse like building a dam on free-flowing river would be to Salmon. It would destroy habitat critical to their survival, the population would soon blink out.

    There is a whole part to this story – and that is the huge Westwide Energy Corridors that proposed to BOTH move electricity from coal plants – and exploit “renewable” mountain-top destroying wind farms in remote areas. And guess what? One of the Westwide corridors goes near Browns Bench.

    What this all is really about is placing nasty energy facilities that no one wants in their back yard – be they coal or wind – far away from cities and population centers were the energy would be used – so that BIG CORPORATE ENERGY can exploit and destroy open spaces and “cheap” siting on public wild lands.

    It is just like the Las Vegas SNWA water grab. Its part of the Corporate Energy Plan is to turn the Interior West into an ENERGY PROVINCE of the big cities – with large corporations and often foreign owners backing mega-projects. Look at the Cotterell proposal that will wipe out the sage grouse there – SHELL is the company doing that. Now Browns Bench – RES UK – so our sage grouse and beautiful high plateaus can be destroyed to send power to LAS VEGAS?

    The “solution” is not more giant corporation-controlled mega-developments. You want wind? Fine. Put it on rooftops, or small operations on the trashed ag lands all along the Snake River Plain, The desertifying weed lands that were Desert Land Entry in the 60s and 70s, the sagebrush wiped out, water somehow found to be appropriated to grow crops to get federal tax dollar subsidies.

  25. Heather-
    If you check, I think you will find that without immigration, legal or illegal, we are are reproducing at very near replacement levels of our population. I am all for 0% growth in our population. That means stopping immigration of all kinds.
    Our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges are becoming run- down islands, with smog filled air produced by power plants and motor vehicles, surrounded by a sea of human development.
    It is time to put up a NO-VACANCY sign.

  26. avatar JB says:

    Heather:

    Actually, if you take away immigration, our (as a country) population growth is essentially flat.

    On energy…

    I wonder if any have read the proposal in Scientific American a few weeks back suggesting we could convert 70% of our energy production to solar by creating massive solar power plants in the desert regions of the southwest? Very interesting long-term vision–no more gasoline, everyone would drive plug-in electric cars–also, no more coal-fired power plants with a total reduction of fossil fuel consumption of over 90%. Ironically, the plan would cost about 450 billion, which I think is a little bit less than the current cost of the Iraq war. Boy, that was money well spent.

  27. avatar Catbestland says:

    JB,

    Along with the information you provided, I also heard on CNN (I forgot who the speaker was) that these Solar Power plants could be developed with 1 tenth of the amount of money that the oil companies receive in subsidies.

  28. avatar JB says:

    Hadn’t heard that. It just makes it all that much more depressing that this isn’t even an issue up for debate among the candidates.

  29. avatar Catbestland says:

    It really is depressing when you consider that the development of alternative energy sources would lessen our dependence on foreign oil, thereby reducing the need for conflict in the mideast. Oh I forgot, we are fighting for liberation. We have to liberate our oil from under their sand.

  30. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Las Vegas has an energy problem …

    LAS VEGAS !!! ~

    So to solve that ‘problem’, let’s scrape out some pristine wildlife habitat in IDAHO ~ and compromise sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, etc. wildlife habitat ? Ohhh… but that’s ok because it’ll be wind on Idaho public land rather than coal providing those artificially low kilowatt hour rates so that LAS VEGAS can keep covering its buildings with LIGHTS for frivolous use 24 hours a day … and next year, we’ll build more ~ and the year after that …

    vicki:

    We can’t just say theat they look bad, waste habitat and effect animals… even if it’s true, saying “NO” to everything doesn’t give an alternative to anything.

    & matt:

    No cannot be the answer to everything, and conservation alone won’t cut it, though its a great place to start.

    saying “NO” is exactly what needs to happen ~ and it’s enough ~ the problem is habitat and species destroying generation to satiate wasteful consumption ~ generating more energy by passively subsidizing energy – no matter the source – continues to keep it cheap enough for them to waste so much of it either in centralized generation or at end use & purchase — that’s the problem. the real cost is not internalized. no one will pay for the loss of habitat or species. tinkering with which public land wildlife habitat gets plowed/fragmented, or which species will be ‘compromised’ to death does nothing to incentivize conservation. Saying “YES !!” to wildlife habitat and sensitive species by rejecting the ambitious development of public lands DOES incentivize conservation ~ by making it a more and more of a pain in the ass to develop, by increasing the necessary tension which ought to accompany the volition of perpetual growth. these struggles provide the space for conservation to be the compromise.

    and matt, run the figures — conservation IS enough – and it’s cheaper and less controversial … if you need a great guy to talk to about it, i’ve got a friend in town who’s job it is ~ you probably know him.

    we need more people willing to say “NO” and less people willing to say “YES” ~ or hows about this — “YES !!! to wildlife habitat in Idaho !!! YES to pygmy rabbits, sage grouse, etc ”

    these wind farms for vegas give the most egregious illustration of the problem ~ one couldn’t ask for a more potent illustration of WASTEFUL energy use than Vegas ~ and we still have people willing to sell out Idaho, Idaho’s wildlife and the public domain convinced that the problem is inadequate generation – or that the problem is those who say “NO” to habitat destruction. just think of the willingness to sell out for less conspicuously wasteful communities should Vegas get its blades in Idaho.

    there is no such thing as “clean energy” or “green energy” when it’s used frivolously. period.

    put the wind and solar in your back yard and keep it off of Idaho’s public land and wildlife habitat.

  31. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Las Vegas boasts a huge economy, and it’s tax revenue is a huge source of revenue for the Nevada government. From that perspective, selling electricity to Las Vegas makes a lot of sense, because so many people and interests are going to profit from it.

    In Idaho, that wildlife habitat sits vacant, and no one is making any money from it. Sure, some grazing fees here and there, clean water benefits, recreation, whatever.

    But truthfully 99% of Americans cannot pay their mortgages with such ‘values’. So, if given a choice of generating huge amounts of cash from electricity generation on that site, or letting it sit for wildlife……..what do you think is going to happen?

    Let’s face reality, 99% of the country wants the economy to keep growing at 2-4% per year. That is the #1 priority of government at all levels…..simply because that is what the American people want.

    And no one is too worried about the ecological price, either, because Americans don’t live in sagebrush habitat. They don’t live with the pygmy rabbits, sage grouse….they live in cities and manicured subdivisions in suburbs.

    If you are going to lament and regret every energy project that moves forward on public lands, you are going to have a miserable existence.

    Because it is only beginning. Think about the energy needs of America in 2050.

    How do you think we are going to meet that demand? One thing is certain: we are going to meet that demand one way or another.

  32. avatar vicki says:

    Brian,
    Go back and read guy, I am not the enemy. I simply called it like it is… (By the way, I think not having solar panels because they are unsightly is shallow and ignorant.) And attitudes like yours are what turn many thousands of people against environmentalists. And FYI, public lands are just as much my back yard as yours! Dude, you are starting to sound like the anti-wolf ranchers in Wyoming…’if you want wolves, put them in your state, keep them out of mine.’
    KT…. I like the idea of putting things on the roof tops, but are you going to foot the bill? You know, since you are so much more worried about foreign interests taking hold and all. (Geez, if it is better than the present, I don’t think the UK paying for it is so darn terrible. And I am sure you have no problem utilizing privledges provided by tax payers here that have made money abroad.)
    Jb, solar energy is great, but remember that there are more ecosystems than those where sage grouse live. They include the desert you talk about. I know, I grew up there. You are willing to put solar plants in the desert, but not wind turbines in your neck of the woods? Sounds a bit hypocritical to me. Are you one of those people who vote not to have a store in your hometown, but drive thirty miles to shop at that store in some one else’s?
    I am actually in favor of using solar energy. But it is not perfect either. After all, it’s premise for existance is heat…that has to have some environmental impact. If not the heat, I am sure it will have an impact in some way.
    People have to be able to pay for energy and conversion. And saying “SAVE THE ANIMALS” won’t get you far if it is at the expense of humans and their comfort level. There is no perfect solution, nothing to make all people happy… I am simply saying EVERYONE has to compromise if we are to progress.
    If anyone here thinks for a minute that throwing us back into the stone age, and trying to get people to light their homes with anything that isn’t controlled with a switch, will get very far… I say dream that dream. Saying “NO” to everything that isn’t environmetally perfect is great in theory, but realistically, that is a boat with a big hole in the hull….it won’t get you far, and you may just drown trying to sail it. If you don’t budge, neither will the other guys, and they happen to out number your vote right now. Some times you can’t 100% of what you want. You can ask for a million dollars, but do you turn down half if it’s offered? Or do you stay at zero just because you demanded the million? That just seems like a total loss to me.
    Kt, thanks for the idea, that is commendable and appreciated.
    I am not saying to throw turbines up in sage grouse areas, or Idaho, or anywhere else… I am just saying we have to think of ways to use the wind energy BETTER. It isn’t going away, neither are SUV’s or plastic bottles. But Hybrids are better, and bottles are getting thinner…and that is because someone took the time to look for a solution and someone LISTENED.

  33. avatar JB says:

    Vicki says: “You are willing to put solar plants in the desert, but not wind turbines in your neck of the woods? Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.”

    Whoa Vicki, slow down! You’re making some assumptions here that are off the mark. I live in the Midwest; and yes, I’m willing to put wind turbines in my “neck of the woods.”

    I am also willing to put solar plants in Southwestern deserts. With that said, Brian’s point is well taken–the supply isn’t endless and our population is growing, so at some point we need to get more efficient with our energy use–and Vegas IS the worst offender.

    By the way, I recognize the impacts that putting massive solar plants in the desert Southwest could have for some species. However, I am willing to make that trade off because (1) ecological diversity and land productivity are low in the SW, and (2) I support REPLACING our current system of burning fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. I don’t support building these types of plants if their only purpose is so that Americans can consume MORE energy per capita. However, that is not the plan that was laid out in Scientific American (the article that I initially referenced).

    Hope this clears up my position. Now that you have it straight, feel free to flame on!

  34. avatar matt bullard says:

    I’ll say one thing about wind – you have to build it where it is windy. I trust that this “mega wind project” has been studied for its feasibility to actually turn the turbines enough to generate money to pay back the investment. Residential wind and solar is a GREAT idea, but only if there is enough wind and sun in those areas to make them economically feasible. We could put photovoltaics on our roof, but most of our neighbors could not, unless we cut down all the trees, which provide other benefits (liked reduced need for AC in summer). Wind in my neighborhood is simply not an option, as it is very rarely windy here. Wind development in already developed agricultural land is also a great idea, but again, only if there is enough wind to pay for it. Vicki, excellent comments. I again urge people to read “Break Through.”

  35. avatar vicki says:

    JB,
    Ecological diversity is low… now that is a stretch. The desert southwest is home to more reptiles than anywhere else is the U.S. It is home to numerous endangered species as well. It is also the only place in the world where certain cacti grow., and I am sure other flora as well.
    The desert in Nevada is an at risk eco-system. They are currently dealing with the issues of water (dams) and drought. This is due, in part, to an over use of energy. But that energy isn’t just used it in Nevada. The dams don’t just effect Nevada either.
    I’m not advocating for wind energy in one place as opposed to another. So maybe a good start would be for Nevada to require all casinos to generate a percentage of their energy from solar sources.
    I, like you, think it is time to replace the mass polutants we currently use. I also said early on that we need to conserve more energy, which is true no matter what the source of that energy is. I also think that paying for it is going to be monumental. Doing it will take decades. Convincing everyone else (oil companies, governments, and many people) will take patience and courteous negotiation. I just don’t think saying “no” as a standard practice is the way to get there. We need to consider every idea, and build on the good that comes from each one.
    I am all for protecting habitat. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we need to slow consumption., or that people will not do that overnight. They’d have to slow up use of things that they are comfortable with…TV’s, computers, cars, and cell phones.
    But before I would agree to solar plants in the s.w., I’d say there needs to be more research done. Because, contrary to what you said, the diversity there is worth saving. If the diversity was low, I’d say it would be even more important to protect it. The animals there are so adapted to the harshness of their environment, they are a marvel. I say that it is just as important as wolves and polar bears. (Not that you disagree, just a thought.)
    We aren’t that far apart on the issues. We just have different ideas on how to get there. I am open to suggestions, I urge you to be as well.

    Matt,
    Thanks, I will take your advise. Thanks for the kind words too.

  36. avatar kt says:

    The way you get money for solar and wind on small-scale and on homes is to impose large taxes on oil and gas energy companies – at the same time as Capping prices they can charge – everyone knows Exxon Mobile and the rest of Dick Cheney’s buddies are raking in humongous profits.

    Just wait. if America bets its energy future on like on mega Royal Dutch Shell wind farms in the Cotterells or RES UK Browns Bench China Mountain wind farms, and other huge corporations that seek to destroy public lands because it is cheaper to do so, the “renewable” corporations will in the future continue to strangle small-scale clean energy development and conservation in the future. WHY would any person trust these guys?

    The Browns Bench China Mountain project is all about large corporations – in this case the foreign energy RES UK trying to grab our public land for “cheap” development. And more of an excuse for the horrid Westwide Energy Corridors to be built. There are many places in trashed private land windy enough for power – with much lower envtl costs – but it would cost big companies more to site wind facilities there. GREED is at the bottom of all of this.

    As long as we promote these giant facilities, there will be much less incentive for local solutions.

  37. avatar vicki says:

    You could try that, large taxes (it has already been tried though.). But price ceilings… that would be a bit socialistic, and this country is all capitalism. Good luck getting that to happen.
    Yes, big bucks are behind this, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t shift the premise to a mulit-benefitial one. (Money is their motive, environmental preservation is yours. Everyone has a motive. To them, yours may be no less barbaric. They raid land, you raid their right to prosper. Use their greed to your advantage. Make it more profitable to be eco-friendly than not. Make the new industry of this age going green, like Ford did for going motorized.)
    You could TRY to get legislation in place to limit developement., or pass laws that require acre for acre matches. Or maybe even get regulations that would put a committee of environmetal scientists in charge of the where- and- how of all the wind projects. But, we already have so many laws in place that are ineffective. We even have an Endangered Species Act that is trampled on daily.
    What we need is to sway public opinion, and a president who stands for something good. And, then, with the help of honest and consciencious legislators, we MIGHT stand a chance. Ask for a miracle, and who knows… maybe.
    We can blame Shell, Cheney, Bush, etc…. but, in the end, they profit because of our GREED. Theirs is a business driven by supply and demand. We demand what they are all too happy to supply.
    The absolute only way to get anywhere, is to make going green cheaper for the consumer and profitable for industry. Not to make oil less expensive or more expensive. Though taxes to oil and developement businesses may help, they’d only help if the price didn’t kick back to consumers.
    Consumer confidence already stinks. The econmomy is worsening daily. Raising fuel costs would only make things worse, and they’ll go up on their own.
    Building turbines and blades is offering jobs to people who need them. They can do that, our they can dig wells and mine uranium. But they will do one or the other to pay the mortgage and feed the kids..
    Get the USA to give monetary incentives to people who conserve. Maybe a tax break for people who lower their energy usage by 10% a year, or don’t charge taxes on hybrid cars (or give everyone the current tax break permanently), make an import tax on foreign companies who build palnts, then give that money to people who put in solar panels. Make it easier for the common family.

    You can only push for the changes you seek by making it affordable. Right now, that simply isn’t happening, and people (not necessarily Nevada) still need energy.

  38. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    so long as the externality costs remain divorced from the decision to consume energy we will see vast inefficiencies and energy production that targets the least able to denounce in monetary terms ~ in this case, it’s wildlife and public land, especially with so many willing to opt out of that standard of advocacy so soon.

    i said to put the energy in your backyard ~ this is quite literal. energy that is produced locally is more efficient, and any negative consequences of such production are more apparent, which allows consumers to consciously be aware of the cost of their energy choices ~ and more easily respond to them.

    these wind turbines are not replacing coal ~ they are adding to coal to continue to supplement Vegas’ deplorable waste of energy. We can say “put the turbines here instead” and that may be a wonderful compromise, but essentially, the cost of energy is woefully low – artificially low – and artificially externalized. Bringing that cost up to some semblance of reality, so that the market enables consumers to confront the true costs of their consumption choices ought be Priority 1 ~ because when it is not, a host of values get lost in the alchemy and contrived boondoggle of energy production – there will always be consequences and the wealth in this system will always be drawn upward.

    When the actual costs are internalized, I am confident that a regional/localized/decentralized renewable energy portfolio will emerge because the truth is, when costs are internalized and and the contrived mess of the economics of energy production are untangled — it’s cheaper to produce energy near home, it’s more ecologically sound to produce energy near home, it provides for a more stable economy ~ not wholly dependent on centralized actors or external regions’ economic well-being and Kwh price fluctuation ~ and decentralized deployment has the potential to spur a vastly more robust economic stimulus in manufacturing than when done centrally. This self-sufficient production of one of the basic economic commodities ~ energy ~ will provide for more stable job-bases and communities which inevitably ameliorates into better social and political self-determinacy.

    So how do we do that ? With this particular controversy, the wind-farm will have negative consequences on values that many of us hold dear ~ wildlife, wildlife habitat, and a public domain free from destructive economic incursion and/or privatization. Those costs are not internalized. In resisting energy development/exploitation of this wildlife habitat by leveraging what-ever one can, wildlife advocates are doing a bit to internalize those costs. That’s acting locally FOR something.

    By now, folk like JB know that I believe there is a place for wildlife advocates who make wildlife and habitat the standard ~ period. That may seem unreasonable to many — but for my part there’s something about wildlife and wildlife habitat in this glorious West that inspires me ~ that i think ought be valued in terms which deter its frivolous compromise. I do not hold the same regard for ‘jobs’ and ‘economic prosperity’, partly because I do not see those values lacking in advocacy ~ even among conservationists – to an extent that is troubling to me.

    Regardless, if there is to be any hope for the ‘costs’ of wildlife, wildlife habitat, and public domain to approach being internalized into the economic barons’ cost/benefit analysis when considering developments such as these wind farms ~ then those values ought have a robust advocacy ~ we can count on their money to advocate for their profit, and the ‘promise’ of ‘jobs’ etc…

    if the wind turbines are not built on sage grouse & pygmy rabbit public lands habitat for such cause ~ whose energy will diminish along long corridors to Las Vegas ~ or even if they are, then wildlife advocates resistance to these energy-barons will have put a few more million dollar dent against their profit ~ and that cost will be passed on – it won’t be so external. If this became more the standard, and advocates all along the pluralistic progressive movement promoted such robust advocacy for their particular non-monetized values ~ to be seen by these barons in real economic terms, in struggle and agitation ~ then the artificial competitiveness premised on passive subsidy, externalized costs, exploited alternative values, and convoluted infrastructure & economic shuffling could slowly be chipped away with every cent increase in Kilowatt hour ~~ unfortunately, this is the only means we have now to contribute to internalization of cost ~~

    just as their artificially cheap energy obfuscates the values and choices of the true costs – this diminished condition of their boondoggle energy enterprise contributes to the atmosphere necessary to make more apparent the actual competitiveness and wisdom of conservation, of regional/local energy production, and the actualized value of wildlife, wildlife habitat, and the public domain. Suddenly, prudent consumption and production become a bit more competitive. they must incur the cost of wildlife whether their blades go up or not – for reasons above – but also because everyone can be damn sure that wildlife will be incurring the cost of development should they have their way.

    given the political saliency of this (presidential candidates seem to be dead-set on conflating energy policy with their environmental stand to the exclusion of wildlife, biodiversity, habitat, etc. consideration) i believe that it becomes even more important to introduce wildlife and wildlife habitat into this otherwise exclusive topic of national environmental concern ~ if they’re unwilling to speak about anything environmental other than energy, wildlife activists’ advocacy of wildlife with issues such as this has the net benefit of making wildlife pertinent to their conversation of choice. that’s a good thing that when done has the opportunity to leverage and pressure for meaningful consideration into the future.

    wildlife advocates have the opportunity to lead with this particular situation ~ to prevent the renewable energy industry from becoming nothing more than a wholly owned subsidiary of the same centralized energy conglomerates that have been polluting and diminishing our water, air, and land ~ waging war ~ and siphoning communities’ & peoples’ wealth toward center since the beginning.

  39. avatar vicki says:

    I get your point. But your value of wildlife is still no more important to others beacuse you have stated it. So the delima lives on. You value wildlife of economic prospertity. Others value food on the table for their children. Call it what you will, they’ll see it as survival.
    I value wildlife and habitat too. I am just realistic enough to know that people are also VALUABLE. And as such should be treated as if their opinions matter. I am not arguing the fact that we are energy hungry. I am not arguing that we should conserve energy. We’ll just have to agree to disagree about the approach we take.
    Everyone on this post seems to have genuine and sincere concern about energy consumption and conservation. I say that is progress, and will be thankful for that. That is exactly what needs to happen first.
    And thanks for all of the info given by each of you… it helps me to make informed decisions.

  40. avatar kt says:

    Brian’s last paragraph sums it up perfectly.

    Are folks going to swallow this hogwash about huge industrial sites placed on public wild lands being “green” energy? That is what the giant energy companies want you to think. They get the green light to put them wherever they want – and pubklc lands are cheaper for them than private lands. That way, too, they stay in charge of energy, can charge whatever they want, can manipulate the market like Enron … on and on.

    I believe that the push for the Royal DUTCH Shell wind development on top of sage grouse habitat in the Cotterell Mountain area, and the Browns Bench (China Mountain) RES UNITED KINGDOM plant on top of sage grouse habitat is all about keeping Energy in the hands of huge corporations.

    THAT way they get to justify THIS, TOO:

    http://www.corridoreis.anl.gov/

    This corridor, among other things, is to facilitate providing abundant power to Las Vegas and other population centers through backwater siting of coal plants (like the Ely coal plants and the Toquop plant – think Ralph might have a Post about- the downwinders there are in Utah), and the lines in place to facilitate ripping open remote public lands
    with mountain top dynamiting wind farms.

    Have you seen the road network, not to mention the ancillary powerline network, associated with these wind farms? Even I was surprised at how much country gets torn up – after going on a tour of the Whiskey Dick wind farm in central Washington – on country a lot less steep than in much of Idaho and the Great Basin.

  41. avatar vicki says:

    Ralph,
    Do you have any info on studies done reagrding the wind farms near Laramie or those in Colorado? Have they had any impact on wildlife there? I know they are fairly new, but what do we know about their impact?

  42. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    vicki,

    i am not unsympathetic to the want for economic prosperity, nor am i inexperienced in the struggle to put bread in my own sons’ bellies. i don’t think that these turbines are about those issues – i am averse to the choices being framed in that way, and if anything – i would suggest that allowing these turbines to be installed using the same convoluted process as is characteristic of this exploitative industry is contrary to those very economic values — though it may not be as immediately apparent in the short term.

    i have suggested that:
    a. localized energy production keeps more money in local economies = local economic stability & community self-determination – secure jobs via local industry powered locally are hedged against national & international energy price volatility.
    b. conservation saves energy, money, and externality costs (wildlife, public domain, etc.).
    c. i value the dignity associated with being more aware of/confronting the costs of my consumptive choices – this is critical to a ‘free market’ working for all of us and a spectrum of values – having our purchase choices ring, rather than just the few who make a business of shrouding those choices in complication and outsourcing while funneling the wealth into their own pockets.
    d. the immediately apparent economic value of the turbines will not be lacking in advocacy ~ thus it is counterproductive for a *wildlife/conservation advocate to slide with such immediacy in that regard, especially knowing that the industry wouldn’t give a second thought to wildlife if it had the chance – nor to the more sustainable local economic well-being.

    from this perspective ~ i believe it important to begin pushing for alternatives which promote the localized deployment of renewable energy which, as a function of proximity, are able to more fully incorporate a broader host of values including economic, ecological, etc.

    to do this – to make it happen, so that wildlife and local economic stability can be best secured in the long run ~ it is necessary to deconstruct the normative calls for ‘more of the same’ (whether the calls are full-bodied or ‘light’ i.e. wind, solar, deployed in this way etc.) – to debunk the idea that this problem can be solved exclusively at production. hopefully, the transparent absurdity of mega conglomerate wind on public lands that host critical wildlife values to give Vegas more artificially cheap power to keep its casinos lit 24-7 will be enough. hopefully, there will be folk with the integrity to infuse as much representative cost for wildlife (and other values) into their corrupt processes such that conservation and local energy production on private lands already rendered marginal will be more competitive. or at least that enough controversy will develop such that politicians will have the opportunity and pressure/incentive to legislate catalysts toward a broader need to take this bull by the horn more fundamentally.

    look, it’s quite simple ~ the number of jobs in idaho isn’t worth it. The loss of wildlife & habitat, the continued incursion of public land by mega-private interests, and the means doesn’t direct us toward the end that we’ve established as common ground ~ more conservation. enabling Vegas to wastefully use energy by founding the low cost of such power on perpetual production levied on the back of public land, wildlife & habitat does nothing to promote conservation ~~~ higher prices of power, accomplished by cinching supply ~ restricting it to private land/not sensitive species habitat ~ promotes a cost of energy that is market-based — that promotes and engenders conservation.

    i think that idaho wildlife and public lands are worth that assertion. i think that, especially now, these choices are being prodded ~~ business as usual ? can the industry get away with simply swapping the machines ? or can local advocates and activists – each in their own communities – individually leverage to make the nexus of this collective question about the wisdom of our energy infrastructure run deeper – such that our local jobs, industries, and economies are more stable and self-determinant, the diversity of life is maintained, and the future of our children’s world is more democratically secured.

  43. avatar vicki says:

    I agree that we need these changes. But it isn’t just Idaho that would get jobs. Again, many of the blades for turbines would be manufactured in Windsor, Colorado. The jobs would be high paying for unskilled laborers. They’d also likely go to actual citizens. (A problem in this area).
    Like I said before, I agree with you in most every way. I just think it is more complex than pushing for, or needing these changes.
    It is also about satisfying the voting public. Trying to see it “from the other side”, will make it easier to find a common ground.
    I think there needs to be a long term plan put into motion. With multiple types of alternative energy_I think that plan needs to put into motion in the very short term future.
    That plan needs to ensure economic stability, as well as economic stimuli. The jobs that will be lost when petroleum and coal cease to be a main stay will have to be made up in other areas.(Perhaps solar panel production? Or land fill regeneration/clean up)
    I also think that there needs to be addiional incentive to persuade the general public, and money is very persuasive. So we can tax import/export businesses based overseas to fund such incentives.
    I also think that we need to set forth land trusts that would match acre for acre, any land used to manufacture energy or fuel.
    (I don’t think we need to drill in Alaska, it won’t end our purchases of foreign oil. )
    We need to assure that before any production begin, the comapny doing it should have a sound and finacially stable plan for maintaining the land’s integrity and restoring any degeneration attributed to it’s developement.
    I think that major energy consumers (like casinos) should be forced to transition atleast 10% of their energy consumption to alternative sources within 5 years.
    I think we should give the American auto workers a break by manufacturing hybrid vehicles for police departments and postal workers, and they should be converted to these vehicles in a planned out time table that doesn’t span decades.

    Colorado energy companies are beginning to supply a percentage of their energy from wind. We have a huge brown cloud here. If you have a plan as to how that could be changed to more envirofriendly sources, I’m open to suggestions.
    I never said to let Vegas suck the life out of Idaho. But there is a serious need there. It needs to be addressed. We can’t just call it some one else’s problem and look away.
    There needs to be a solution. I think there are enough brilliant minds out there to find one.
    Energy isn’t market based in my home state. Heck, you pay or live in the cold and dark.
    There is only one major power company driving the prices… that is Public Service Company. There are a few other providers, but they are totally out numbered. There is no price break due to competition. It is essentiallyas close to a monopoly as possible without being illegal. So they could charge, and do charge, what ever they get away with. Public hearings about prices are a ceremony in appearances, and don’t count for much.
    Since people will always use energy, there will always be little control over pricing it. It isn’t like we can say “this year I will use no electricity” and BAMM, down goes the price of electricity. That is an extreme over-simplification.
    I can see ways to promote change, and your efforts to do so are commendable.
    I just think that wind turbines are inevitable, and therefore, I am just hoping for responsible placement.
    Please, stop and read my posts. I am not against the changes that need to take place. I love the land and it’s animals. I’m simply saying that, just saying “no” over all is a failing game plan. I’d rather have some in-put on where they go, than none because I just said no to something that is obviously going to happen with or without my in-put anyhow.
    In Colorado the people have spoken, they said yes to wind energy. That was a democratic change.

  44. avatar kt says:

    It is not obvious that it is going to happen. There are people in Idaho that will act to protect public wild lands and wildlife, especially from this kind of senseless destruction.

  45. avatar vicki says:

    Wind turbines are already happening. It is obvious. (I meant turbines in general.) And Idahoans can fight it, and they may prevail. But they won’t keep it from happening somewhere else.

    From what I have read, it is happening, or in the process of it, in Idaho too. Hopefully it happens in an area that is better for habitat.
    Sadly, the number of people who will act to protect public lands and wildlife are often out numbered and out financed.

    The article which we are talking about doesn’t specify how much of it will take place on private land vs public.

    Wind energy has a purpose, and a use, it isn’t entirely senseless. It just needs a place.

    Maybe a more realistic or better approach would be to stop the leasing or sale of public lands in general, not just ID, for such purposes. Then again, we can’t even do that with cattlemen, let alone energy companies.

  46. avatar vicki says:

    How do people in the town feel? They’d be benefiting financially from the 3% of millions of dollars per year they’d receive. Do they favor or oppose the plant?

  47. avatar kt says:

    And Vicky – you might be interested to now that even the BLM RAC wrote a letter opposing the placement of even the MET (initial wind monitoring “meterological” towers) on top of Browns Bench because of the sensitive sage grouse, cultural and other values.

    Unfortunately, higher-ups in the Bush admin and a pathetic manager, Eddie Guerrero now long-gone , over-rode even the ultra-conservative Lower Snake BLM RAC.

    Then, after getting its right-of-way, RES UNITED KINGDOM represented by Bill Myers, proceeded to violate the terms of the MET tower placement right-of-way that BLM issued. Jarbidge BLM wrote RES a letter of non-compliance.

    Seems we in Idaho may in some ways actually be ahead of the Colorado “greens” – not blindly accepting wind industry hype.

  48. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    i think that kt has done a compelling job of suggesting that the blades go up on private ag lands rendered marginally productive here in Idaho if they must go up (still a debate on that) ~ i hope that i and others have done a reasonable job of suggesting that the power they produce go to the immediate communities surrounding them rather than as ships passing in the dead of night, drawing the energy all the way across the region, which would necessitate further energy corridors fragmenting habitat including on public land etc. while also decreasing energy efficiency. the manufacturing jobs will happen ~ in fact, there’d be more manufacturing jobs for a variety of renewable energy products if they were kept locally deployed.

    again, the problem in vegas is waste — tell them to unscrew every 20th bulb from casinos and the problem would be resolved.

    using energy conserving appliances is a remedy to high prices.

    ponying up $10-15 grand for solar or residential wind is a dream of mine ~ hopefully it will be a reality soon ~~~ that’s another remedy on the individual level that has many tax incentives and reverse meters when hooked up to the grid.

    there are many solutions ~ but it’s time to slice the giant energy conglomerates out of the pie.

    vicki, you suggest a mandate of a percentage of industry use be renewable — this (along with other caveats) basic idea has been called a ‘renewable portfolio standard’ (RPS) ~ i spent a summer in palo alto studying renewable solutions then was invited to DC to lobby (as a student) then Idaho congresswoman helen chenoweth on just this idea. i didn’t get anywhere with helen 😉 (except a reminder that dams are renewable) but renewable portfolio standards are certainly a good start as they allow the market to determine the most appropriate renewables to utilize regionally and prompt initial investment … however, again – this is to no avail if the RPS allows mega-conglomerates to suck the transformative potential of regional end-use out of the equation — and if the RPS allows renewables on public lands —- then it’s just a vehicle for more of the same of many of the significant costs that kt and i have been describing. keep the RPS in the private domain…

    requiring that public infrastructures, including vehicles, utilize the most eco & conservation-based technologies is also a good way to leverage the public dole to spur needed infrastructure for the rest of the public…

  49. avatar vicki says:

    Kt-
    That is sad, but not suprising.
    I think that the changes made here are atleast moving toward something better. I’ll take that progress over the alternative. Idaho is close to many protected areas that are near and dear to my heart. It is also has far less industry and population, which is an asset to conservation. I hope it stays that way.
    Colorado isn’t really behind, we just have a different set of problems. They are also more numerous, sadly. But we progress every year.
    We can boast that we get no state tax dollars for conservation of land or wildlife. Our Div. of Wildlife operates on revenues provided by other sources. Hunting and fishing licenses, conservation tags, (required to use certain public lands), lottery proceeds and private contributions. Our largest industry is tourism, so it’d be advantageous for Colorado to promote public policy embracing conservation, because we’d reach more people than Idaho. I’m sure being friendly in our persuasion would be a useful approach.

    Where on private land would you put turbines? I know there is less protection on these lands for animals, but there are still animals in need of protection there too. So who would you trust to make those choices? Who is honest enough to weigh the sacrafice, and initiate it? No matter where, or what type of energy you use, it requires a sacrafice. I agree that there are some places less in need than others, but how to differentiate will be very contraversial.

    Brian,
    I’d love to convert too. But, like most folks these days, I live pay check to pay check.
    I agree that Veags over does the bulbs. Imagine if they used solar panels big enough to run those lights! What a concept, huh? They could integrate solar panels into designs. There is no requirement that the panels be any certain shape. If there is any architect or engineer out there who’d do that design, I’d say give them a noble prize. Think of the hollywood ripple effect that would have. Head line “Paris Hilton only parties at the Solarplex Hilton in Vegas”. Some day.
    Your work is also commendable, maybe the next administration will be more readily persuaded.
    Thanks, to you both, for the info, & Good luck Kt.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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