Barker: Attorney Laird Lucas gears up to fight energy plants

Lucas is one of the finest environmental lawyers in the country. He understands that MASSIVE alternative energy wind and solar farms are not the answer-

We have discussed the problems with massive energy generation in remote locations with long transmission lines a lot in this forum. It’s good to see  someone of Lucas’ caliber understands and will fight. It looks like Rocky Barker understands too. He has written quite a bit about this lately.

Rocky Barker: Attorney Laird Lucas gears up to fight energy plants. Idaho Statesman.






  1. kt Avatar

    Let’s hope the Obama administration quickly realizes that giant industrial wind and solar energy plants in the middle of nowhere destroying public lands sage grouse and desert tortoise habitat, and expensive huge new transmission lines slicing up the West, are the worst possible path to an energy future for America.

    As someone who is deeply critical of the Statesman and Rocky at times, it is good to see this article that is ahead of the curve. Now it’s time for the Statesman and other papers to provide readers with an understanding of how parking lot solar, smaller wind production on marginal ag land, and distributive energy can work and be much more economically sustainable, too.

    The push for these hugely destructive wind farms and other energy development has all been aimed at keeping energy controlled in this country by huge corporate entities – these days the big green developers are often a lot of foreign dollars like the China Mountain wind farm that will destroy a vast area of sagebrush habitat on the Nevada border.

    Let’s hope the Obama stimulus puts funds to local green energy project development and conservation in and near communities – not industrial madness tearing up the land. I sure would like a solar panel on my rooftop.

    My fear: That important folks with Power in both political parties have investments riding on a bunch of the industrial monstrosity plants coming to fruition. Solar that will destroy entire valleys in the Mojave, wind that will blast dozens of miles of new roading into remote high ridges.

    Also, does anyone who understands financial investments in these know if there is some kind of Ponzi scheme going on with investments in mega-energy plants on public lands? Like we have heard has occurred with uranium claims and other mining-related activity. That, and wicked dealings with foreign-owned gold mines especially in Harry Reid’s Nevada, are supposed to be part of the back story on why Obama chose cowboy Salazar for Interior, and not the much better environmental choice – Raul Grijalva.

    The Big Wind companies had been doing all kinds of courting of Big Green Groups, too. I wonder if that has slowed down a bit yet?

  2. outsider Avatar

    so wind and solar power are okay if there not in your back yard? I’ve been past several of these mega fams in CA, WY, and in New Zealand, They are a very clear alternitive to coal plants and the people of NZ have realized that. Keep in mind that there are only so many good sites you just can’t put these towers anyplace . And unless you want more coal, nucular, hydro, and natural gas plants, you are going to have to live with a few wind and solar farms. Or you will be stuck with rolling blackouts in a mater of years.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Just the opposite, outsider, the argument being made is that they belong in folks backyards, or on their rooftop, not in some distant desert.

    Please keep reading.

  4. JimT Avatar

    This is part of the problem associated with a rush to build HUGE solar plants or turbine farms with no regard for habitat disturbance, effects on flora and fauna and flyways. Oil derricks or wind turbines–badly placed in sensitive areas, it makes no difference to the local inhabitants if it is green energy or dirty energy. And then there is the issue of the distribution lines, and the impact they will make. Just think of what we could do with technologies that are neighborhood driven…roof turbines, solar capacity with new generation batteries, new developments required to be as energy independent as possible or the developers don’t get permits…One can dream…~S~

    Personally, if the sites are appropriate, I would rather see these kinds of developments on midwest farm lands that are already impacted landscapes, and would be a better use of the land than its use for ethanol…IF the land isn’t going to be used for food production.

  5. outsider Avatar

    Ralph, so just how much land would be destroyed if these giant farms are built?

    Do you think that the average consumer can afford to have a solar pannel or wind tower put on their house. Even if you give tax breaks to them, keep in mind that over 50 percent of people don’t even pay taxes to begin with. Then who pays for the maintaince and instalation. If I was a local electrical company I would be salavating over thought of all the money I would be able to charge. Neither solar, wind, or hydro production is maintiance free, its just the oppsiste. Thats part of the reason for the large farms it makes it so companies can hire a group and all they do is maintain the plants, much more effencent than 100,000 individuals each trying to do their own thing.

    dealing with the transmission lines is a whole other ball of wax. Unless people who live in urban areas are willing to do without or change the way they live, they are going to need more power. I really don’t think that putting solar panel on the roofs in NY are going to work in all that smog, and I can see real problems with trying to put wind turbins on roof tops, the maintaince alone would make it so costly that its a no go.

    It seems to me that we finally have a good eco friendly solution here and yet some people are aginst it, I just don’t understand what the problem is, all the sites that I have been by don’t seem intrusive at all. They accutally look kinda cool when you consider that they are turning wind into electricity without polluting the environment.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I don’t necessarily mean in folks’ backyards literally, and you didn’t either.

    What I am saying is the wind and solar collection should be closer to the load centers. In fact this is happening. Have you read about the numerous large flat-topped buildings (such as malls) putting solar collectors on their roofs?

    In addition passive solar heating can work well in new houses even in climates that are not very sunny.

    See No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in ‘Passive Houses’, New York Tmes.

  7. Salle Avatar

    Once again I repeat myself (and I am so tired of being ignored)

    The “passive house idea is good too.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Salle’s post is about buildings that can produce energy rather than just consume it.

    The energy production can be large enough that the building’s energy needs are more than supplied and the excess energy can be used by others.

  9. Buffaloed Avatar

    I grew up in a passive solar house in Boise. It works and when there wasn’t enough sun to heat the house we used a wood stove. Only 1/4 cord of wood while other homes of the same size used 4 cords.

  10. outsider Avatar

    Ralph I have no problem with putting them “closer” to the use point, but there seems to be alot of people against that idea. My main example would be off the coast in Mass, but I’m pretty sure that the kenedys and all the other fat cats there screamed bloody murder. Its always the same with some people, great idea but not in my back yard. The people on the east and west coasts are going to drive where electical production takes place, about all we can do is kinda have an impact on what type it is. So if your against wind and solar farms get ready for the coal, natural gas, and nucular plants that are going to put in our back yards. Not a very popular idea but do you really think Obama is going to piss away all those electorial votes in the populated states? Hell no hes going to scarifice a few in NV, hell ID, UT, WY didn’t even vote for him why should he care what happens in those states? Just my humble uneducated thoughts, hope I’m wronge but I sure see plants happening and I would rather see them as wind and solar.

  11. Maska Avatar

    For some interesting and practical information on smaller scale solar and wind applications, take at look at any issue of Home Power magazine.

    In addition to the environmental issues mentioned above, there are national security implications in building very large plants and transporting the power long distances, vs. generating the power in a more dispersed fashion. It would be much more difficult for a terrorist group to take out many smaller installations, thus bringing an entire region to its knees, than to wipe out one or two large ones–or simply to cut the transmission lines in critical places. Bigger and more centralized isn’t always better.

  12. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    I have learned a couple things about locally-based alternative energy programs during the past 18 months of new home construction. The house has solar electric, solar hot water, passive energy design, and super-efficient insulation and appliances.

    There is huge variability on solar power in the northern latitudes with snow and a poor sun angle for several months per year. Any local energy generation program would have to account for the fact that solar power production will decrease dramatically in the winter, and a supplemental energy source will have to be found – local or otherwise.

    1) These kinds of projects are far more efficient with new construction than a retrofit/remodel. Trying to incorporate existing inefficient housing developments with local energy programs will be extremely difficult. Not that it’s not worth doing.

    2) Energy conservation is at least as important, if not more so, than alternative energy production. Current automobiles and homes are almost universally terrible at conservation. It will take a long time for these homes/cars to become obsolete or break down to the point where they need replacement. Doing alternative energy projects on a leaky home or a gas guzzler is a waste of time and money according to every energy expert I spoke to.

    3) Maintenance is pretty simple, and the energy companies actually make less money – in some cases they pay you for the excess energy you put back in the grid. Still, the projects don’t pencil out, particularly in places like ID, where there are no alternative energy tax breaks.

    4) An excellent article like this also leads to the obvious conclusion that low-density rural development is at odds with any decent energy program. Local governments need to use their growing energy leverage to encourage in-town reconstruction.

  13. otto Avatar

    If we in Idaho are serious about local power generation we must be willing to pay more. Technology is not the issue.

    One reason for building large scale solar and wind projects is the economy of scale gained from denser generation projects. Concentrated solar collectors which focus sunlight to heat a fluid, are more efficient than photovoltaic panels but require a large array of collectors to operate. Photovoltaic panels are manufactured using huge amount fo energy, dangerous chemicals, and leave troublesome waste behind. Concentrated solar has less of a manufacturing impact, are more efficient in converting sunlight to electricity but require large areas.

    If we really want to move away from coal and hydro power we must be willing to pay much more for electricity. Legally the State Public Utilities Commission may only approve rates that are “fair, just and reasonable.” Unfortunately the current PUC interprets this directive as keeping rates as low as possible. Now Idaho electric rates are the lowest in the region and fourth lowest in the country. A residential customer in Idaho pays 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour, in Oregon they pay 8.69. In exchange for this higher rate Oregon has a much higher percentage of renewable energy, the Citizen Utility Board which specifically represents customers in utility proceedings and the Oregon Energy Trust, the most successful efficiency and conservation outfit in the country.

    Germany is the world leader in solar power generation and is decidely not a overtly sunny location. They gained this status by subsidizing the development and installation of solar plants heavily. We must be willing to do the same. We must tell the state regualtors we are willing to as well.

    Distributed generation refers only to the location of the generator and does not mean that citizens are responsible for maintenance or operation of the equipment. Utilities, not the home owner, must be responsible for maintenance in order to ensure reliability and functionality. Because the physical properties of electricity generation and delivery require instantaneous balancing of supply and demand anytime a light switch is flipped distributed generation project with panels on roof tops or turbine in back yards must be coordinated by the utility company. Finally, while utilities constantly salivate over any chance to charge customers more they cannot charge customers anything that the state regulators have not approved.

    Instead of debating what kind of generation plant should be built and where the transmission lines should go the focus should be on efficiency and conservation. Using less electricity means reduced need for new generation plants and transmission lines, less emission from coal pants (which provide almost 50% of Idaho generation) and more water for fish bypassing the dam generators. Because Idaho electric rates are low, and the utility collects rates on a per kilowatt consumed basis, there is every incentive to be wasteful and over consumptive. The utility will never promote efficiency since that leads to less units of energy sold, therefore less income. Only the state regulators have the incentive, and legal authority to promote efficiency and conservation. As citizens we must tell them to do so.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Maska, Tom, and Outsider,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Regarding Tom’s point that energy conservation is at least as important as alternative energy production, this week’s Time Magazine, Jan. 12, 2009, has a major article how increased energy efficiency is the lowest cost and least damaging of all methods being proposed. The article suggests that most, and maybe all the energy “needs” can be satisfied by energy efficiency.

    Maska’s comment on national security is very important. We have discussed this before, but it needs to be reiterated that centralized generation with long transmission electricity lines, pipelines, or whatever, is inherently subject to attack. Therefore, there must be a protection, a security force.

    This makes centralized energy inherently dangerous to our liberties as well as our security because all police forces or military forces are but a necessary evil.

    When a new infrastructure is created, the template it makes produces one kind of future. Obama would do well to avoid a mere variation on a theme (centralized generation) if he wants real change.

  15. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Otto gets to the central issue – I think. We must be willing to pay for the real costs associated with energy production if real solutions are to be implemented.

    The energy that we use today never seems so cheap if one were to consider the true costs in subsidy, environmental impact, and other “externality costs” that never make it to the power bill.

    Renewable energy does nothing to reduce climate change, not a single coal-fired power plant will be decommissioned should we allow sacrifice of pristine habitats to expedite the same model of destructive centralized energy production with a new shiny generation technology that carries the empty promise of endlessly wasteful consumption along with the baggage of new externality costs that are only seemingly palatable now because we haven’t yet had the time to consider their impact into the future.

    Another point to consider: Centralized renewable energy fosters waste just the same as “dirty” energy – the power comes from some far off distance – localized production (roof-top, “backyard”) fosters opportunity for users to become more aware of their consumption choices as a simple function of proximity/awareness.

    If we were made to pay the actual cost of energy up-front, became aware of its consequences and more directly involved/confronted with its production – we’d all make wiser choices about its use.

    We need to find a way to make our choice to conserve energy (not use it) more valuable than the choice to consume it.

  16. kt Avatar

    Anyone know what this Blog is:

    The claim being made is that enviros – if they oppose any mega-Windor Solar Farm in any place – want to take society back to the Stone Age … or something.

    Geez – I wonder if ID Leg. State House Rep. Steve Hartgen or someone is the Webmaster. Hartgen is the former uber-rightwing Times News person who is involved in China Mountain Wind Farm and who has floated some kind of Idaho Legislature Bill to make anyone who posts on Blogs go by their real name. Mr. Hartgen , I believe, has been appointed to the Idaho Legislature to take the seat of welfare rancher Rep. Bert Brackett who was appointed by cowboy wolf-hater Otter to be a state senator. Maybe the Blog is not Hartgen, but it seems to be somebody/thing that wants to be an Enforcer for Corporate Wind Plants/Energy.

    Side Note: The Hartgen-Brackett appointments story is why the local efforts to give Dirk Kempthorne a squeaky-clean image (like that City Club talk)untarred by Bush are scary. In the shuffles in the Idaho Republican aristocracy, one never knows where they plan to re-insert Dirk.

    AND: It seems like if anyone speaks a discouraging word about Big Wind, some folks Flip Out. Gee. Sounds like heavy-handed tactics of any nasty industry/thugs.

  17. Overlander Avatar

    Back when I worked for Stephen Hartgen at the Times-News, he hardly ever signed his editorials. Did he really try to make bloggers go by their real names? Hilarious.

  18. Salle Avatar


    Here’s what comes up, only the first paragraph actually, of the “about this blog” segment…

    “My name is Don Gillispie. I’m a retired senior executive in the nuclear industry with over 40 years of experience. I’m not the sort of person to sit around in retirement and my current project is president and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. In Idaho, our principal project is the Idaho Energy Complex, a 1,600-megawatt-reactor proposed for Elmore County, Idaho, and Energy Neutral Inc.”

  19. JimT Avatar

    Tom Page, I am curious as to why you didn’t look at heat pumps as a way of providing energy for your new house.

    From what I have read, and I am by no means an energy expert, it is the battery technologies that are the big limit right now on localization, affordability, and efficiency. The good news is that lithium appears to be “around the corner”.say 5-10 years, so there could be a bunch of options for neighborhoods that are not available currently.

    And, if memory serves, I thought I read about a Dutch company coming into Colorado to manufacture roof type wind turbines that could be retrofitted on rooftops. We here in Boulder have been “enjoying” winds of 30-40 mph with bursts up to 90..oh what fun to see gates flying down the road..LOL…but again, it is about taking advantage of what it available on already impacted space, and not simply taking up thousands and thousands of acres for our old model of huge power plants.

    The idea here is to change radically the way we think about energy and its provision to us. I live in Boulder. I cannot imagine someone building a house here without doing everything possible to incorporate passive solar gain as well as active systems with over 310 days of sunshine a year. Most of the Southwest is in similar place with regards to sunshine, and as battery storage potential and PVC efficiencies increase, it seems ludicrous not to pursue building this way. Things may have to be a bit different in the Montanas and Wyomings of the world, but I suspect the economies of cost will improve.

    Is this enough? No. Conservation is key in all aspects of life, whether it be walking a mile to the grocery instead of using the car, or putting on a sweater. Incrementally, the multitudes can make a difference.

    I might be mistaken, but I caught a little bit of frustration in Outsiders comments towards enviros and efforts to address species impact from all of these new energy projects. ~S~ I haven’t kept up with the east coast windfarm off Massachusetts issue; certainly there is a bit of NIMBYISM in some of the protests. But, if memory serves, there were legitimate concerns (at least from my point of view) of impacts on fishing grounds and flyways to warrant caution even if one risks backlash. And I think that is what I am saying..we need to site these so called mega farms carefullly with an eye to long term impacts instead of just being concerned about the wattage fees. Ralph and others are correct; we need to pay the true cost of power, but I will do the corporations providing it in terms of pollution and impacts. Costs should not simply be passed down the line.

    Salle, the article on energy producing buildings is great and one of the options for urban centers as huge energy draws to consider to mitigate their demands. One can imagine using the Cabrini Green site, for example, in this fashion as Chicago seeks to rehab that awful experiment in housing.

    My furnace just kicked off for the day..time to find my Nordic sweaters..LOL. Enjoy folks.

  20. Salle Avatar


    I agree with the energy conservation needs and see that this on site wind with solar generation as a milestone in ingenuity, still, there also needs to be storage in the mix for “off times” for any type of generation that takes place in “realtime”.

    Once upon a lifetime ago, I was married to a rather forward looking guy… We had plans of purchasing land near the eastern edge of YNP, not Jackson but more like Pinedale, WY. We figured, back in the mid 1970’s, that we could build an off-grid homestead by using numerous possible alternatives from passive solar ~ fluid heat transfer ~ and other means of generating energy. We even considered methane driven generators that were rather ingenious. Truly we were looking at a remote site but the options were seemingly endless. I think that with a little imagination ~ OMG!! ~ many options could be utilized.

    I feel that regulation should be a smaller issue when considering on-site generation, however, storage is a big thing. Lithium is “hot” and would require some regulatory oversight for the sake of safety but, given that part, the lithium option for storage could also be incorporated into the “heat” system by using that heat from the lithium to also participate in the “passive” systems. Might take some space but it would be worth it if folks were willing to be a little imaginative and open to making mild concessions for the sake of the environment and their well-being.

    And if lithium isn’t deemed a good idea, what about a “spring load” device that winds up and can be “locked off” for use when energy collection isn’t favorable? there are many types of storage, from complex, like lithium, to very simple and less resource intense like spring-load, etc..

    I think we have allowed ourselves to become too “manufacture oriented” and less resourceful in our thinking on this…

  21. JimT Avatar

    I think we need a return of Earth Catalog kind of thinking, and take individual responsibility for upgrades that are sustainable when we build or renovate homes, for starters. And local governments need to facilitate that process instead of getting in the way. Here in Green Boulder County, the rules have become so draconian that they discourage alternative energy, and innovative, sustainable building techniques by making them much too expensive for the middle class to afford. Boulder has changed so much since I last lived here in the late 80s, and much of it has not been positive, sadly. This is just one example.

    And I think, for a badly needed change, subsidies on the scale of the Ag Bill Giveaway need to be given serious consideration for homeowners and developers (hard to even type that word..LOL) who are aggressively pursue alternative energy and conservation oriented methodologies in their building projects. I am tired of big corps getting the green and doing nothing with it except more of the same that got us here in the first place. Again, Mr. Obama, time for a….say it with me…CHANGE…~S~

    Certainly safety would be an issue, but I think that will be addressed in the development stages during the next 10 years or so. If they can be safe enough to put in a car, they should be safe enough to have in your basement, or an outside building. The recycling problem needs to be addressed as an upfront issue, not a “oh yeah” kind of thing, and the manufacturers should be made to provide such a service free of charge as part of the problem solving effort we all need to be involved in. We have examples of doing it right in Europe already with recycled car mandates. It can be done if there is the political will to lead the unwilling down the their noses if need be…~S~

  22. Buffaloed Avatar

    Take a look at Rocky’s Blog version of this story.

    Jim McCue, 25 year System Engineer and District Leader posted to the blog. I’m getting the feeling that this type of talk is really ticking off the big wigs.

  23. kt Avatar

    You know, Mrs. Pickens has that plan (whereabouts not yet made public) to buy base property and associated public lands grazing permits for wild horses on millions of acres in Nevada. I wonder if any of those aquisitions would be planned for areas with Wind and other energy potential on public lands – and if the Picken’s will then be asking Congress to amend laws there, too? Does anyone know what ranches Mrs. Pickens is buying/has bought? I wonder if the Winecup Ranch north of Wells is one such area? Why else would a Pickens Rep. be growling about Rocky Barker’s article that has a public lands perspective? Originally, wasn’t T. Boone going to build mega-wind plants on private landin Texas? Maybe he has realized he can get access to developing public lands for cheap – riding a “green energy” wave? Maybe that is why he backed off a few months ago on the Texas developments.

    I think there are a lot of big and important Democratic and Republican investors with money invested in speculative Wind and/or Solar projects and Transmission lines tearing up Public Land. Now that the economy has collapsed, there is no private funding to build the huge industrial facilities – so Big Wind and Big Solar will be looking to Obama for Big Hand-Outs, and also doing away with environmental constraints. All of which would keep energy in the hands of the elite large mega-corporations. Public lands are going to be in the Crosshairs, and sacrificed, at least in part, to keep now-tenuous investments from tanking.

    Someone who understands how to do it, needs to trace investments – from those of envtl heroes like Gore and Bobby Kennedy (why else would he have made the comment of a few months ago about putting huge solar plants in the worthless desert – that includes large areas of Harry Reid’s Nevada?) to Pickens to other ultrarightwingers – in proposed Big Public Lands Solar and Wind Plants.

    I wager that we will see a Border Wall type waiver or diminishment of environmental laws written into legislation to enable Big Energy.

  24. Salle Avatar


    I “googled” the topic “Pickens AND wild horses” and came up with a lot of the initial news and found this interesting piece:

    But I do recall reading somewhere about some hold up with either land purchase or some bureaucratic BS-flavored obstruction and that she is still waiting to move forward and that meanwhile, the BLM plans to go ahead with the slaughter anyway while they hold her plan at bay.

    Can anyone say; welfare ranchers in charge?

  25. Maska Avatar

    “I think we have allowed ourselves to become too ‘manufacture oriented’ and less resourceful in our thinking on this…”

    Salle, check out Home Power magazine for an antidote to this kind of thinking. The URL is The old American tradition of tinkering and do-it-yourself is alive and well among the readers of this journal. Note also that this magazine features articles on efficiency and conservation, as well as all kinds of small scale energy installations. We’re consulting it as we build our passive solar (and possibly active solar, as well) adobe house in New Mexico.

  26. kt Avatar


    This sounds like Mrs. Pickens has the best of motives. But I wonder about T. Boone? Does he want these huge power lines ripping up public lands so he can sell energy generated from wind farms on private land in Texas and sell it to LA? Or is he involved in any public lands wind or solar or geothermal energy projects? Also note the article above has Pickens talking to Harry Reid. That alone smells like something bad for public lands could be afoot.

    There is another article (couldn’t find it just now) that discusses that Pickens would ask Congress to amend envtl laws in some way to enable this.

    AND something I didn’t know is that BLM leaked the initial story on the horses to the Washington Post. Thus driving up the price of any purchase. That would be Dirk Kempthorne’s loose-lipped BLM Interior with all its New Ethics Reforms – leaking something. Because, heaven forbid, we wouldn’t want to do any good for horses, only cowmen and sheepmen given special treatment.

  27. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    Jim – I confess I’m not familiar with a heat pump system, so I can’t answer your question. We looked at heating the home using a large underground water tank among other options, but the cost and construction was pretty daunting, so we didn’t do it. Opted instead for a supertight foam insulation with a low-tech airflow system. Similar to the system discussed in the NYT article that recently appeared.

    As for the battery problem…my father had an off-grid system with batteries for many years. It was a real pain to manage, particularly with a few cloudy days. We’re hooked into the grid so we can sell power in the summer and use it in the winter.

    One final comment with respect to cost: The cost of construction the “green” way, with recycling, local materials, non-toxic glues, paints, fabrics and insulation, plus all the energy improvements probably kicked up the cost an additional 25%. Not to mention having to pay the higher price for land within the community center in order to have walking access to schools, shops, etc. This kind of premium will be a big obstacle for large-scale adaptation of these practices. Without some sort of government incentive program, it will be a slow march towards a national improvement in home/automobile energy use if this number doesn’t go down.

  28. JimT Avatar

    Tom Page..

    I was hoping you could tell me about applicability of them in your climate. My brother had such a system in his house in SC, along with tankless hot water, and loved both. Here is a link for information on pros and cons..

    Couldn’t agree more about the need for incentives for green building..hell, green living. As I said, we have been handing out hundreds of millions to corporations for decades to not grow things, or to let them continue to adversely affect the environment..think sugar industry…so why the hell not give up substantial subsidies to efforts to actually help us weather the climate change crisis?

    Just think of what we could do if the defense budget was reduced by 10 cents on the revenue dollar…I don’t remember the exact figure, but their share of each dollar in Federal tax revenue is north of 60 cents last time I checked, and has probably gotten bigger in the last 8 years. Sigh.

  29. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    Jim –

    With solar hot water, we decided not to go with the tankless system, as it added an extra layer of complexity that didn’t improve the efficiency of the system.

  30. outsider Avatar

    I’m sure that you all have seem this before but I’ll still post a link to it.

    I’m sure I’ll get all sorts of hate for it but you have to give the man a little credit, he did this without a lot of fan fare and it is a really good idea, far better than the other house that its compared to. It also goes to show my point about how some enviros are not drinking the same kool aid that they are pooring for all of us.

  31. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I don’t feel to compelled to defend Al Gore in any way.

    As far as Bush goes, as an individual person there may be much good to say about him.

    As President of the United States, I think his actions have produced unmitigated evil for the Unites States and the entire world.

    For people like Bush, Gore, Harry Reid, Tom DeLay, Nancy Pelosi, Barrick Obama, etc. what counts is not their private lives, but the effect they have on the world at large.

  32. JimT Avatar


    Makes sense to reduce the number of mechanical devices wherever and whenever possible. My wife and I are entertaining notions of building a small home that is as much passive solar gain as we can get for that reason among others…mechanical stuff breaks, the sun doesn’ least in my lifetime. In this economy, who knows what is possible. We are at the research stage, and thinking 5 years out. I admire your courage for building. People who have done it tell me they would never do it again, but they are glad they did it the one time…!S!

  33. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    This isn’t exactly a new article (March 2007), but it lays out some of the economics of large vs. small renewable power generation:

  34. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    But then I read this: “Clean Tech Recession: Winners And Losers” which is pointing in the smaller-is-better direction.

  35. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Matt,

    This is good news for the environment and for job creation.

    Time Magazine Dec. 12 says the energy solution will be primarily greater efficiency of use. This is what happened during the 1970s energy crisis.

  36. kt Avatar

    Here is a link to a very interesting and maddening story on how hedge funds and speculation drove up Oil prices to over $4 a gallon gas last summer.

    This is the same kind of thing that can happen with ALL kinds of energy, including green energy, as long as it is in the hands of the giant wind farms, giant solar farms, and giant power company transmission lines – and not more locally generated and used – as well as conserved. Obama’s stimulus package sure seems to be headed in the wrong direction – more big roads, instead of investing in home or area based alternative energy and conservation.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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