Renewable Energy Industry CEO looks to the future

Suggests government policy/subsidies – not free market – give wildlife conflicting, utility-scale projects an edge over distributed generation

Desert Tortoise © Dr. Michael Connor, WWP

NRG Energy CEO David Crane, lead investor in the controversial Ivanpah Solar Thermal Energy Project, discusses why giant utility-scale renewable energy projects are economically viable and what the future might look like for renewables with a reduction of government subsidies:

NRG Energy’s CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Results – Earnings Call TranscriptSeeking Alpha

[We] fully recognize that the current generation of utility-sized solar and wind projects in the United States is largely enabled by favorable government policies and financial assistance.  It seems likely that much of that special assistance is going to be phased out over the next few years, leaving renewable technologies to fend for themselves in the open market.  We do not believe that this will be the end of the flourishing market for solar generation.  We do believe it will lead to a stronger and more accelerated transition from an industry that is currently biased towards utility-sized solar plants to one that’s focused more on distributed and even residential solar solutions on rooftops and in parking lots.

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Idaho megaload foes win Dalton Open Government Award

Credit to two local citizens who have taken on the world’s most profitable corporation, oil octopus Exxon-Mobil and others-

Ah, some credit to two average folks fighting the international oil companies to try to save the economy, scenery, fish and wildlife of the area around U.S. Highway 12.

Idaho megaload foes win Dalton Open Government Award. By Dan Popkey. Idaho Statesman

“The Max Dalton Open Government Award has been given each year since 1999 to a citizen or group judged to be an outspoken advocate of openness in either public records or public meetings on the state or local level.”

Among many other activities trying to kill the megaload shipments across the scenic, narrow, north central Idaho highway, the Daltons exposed Butch Otter’s secret deal with the oil companies to turn Highway 12 into an industrial corridor on the way to the Alberta tar sand pits.

The Daltons

Yellowstone’s east gate opens. Southern on Friday

There is a lot of deep snow-

The west entrance has been open for some time, but the East Entrance opened May 6 to five feet of snow. The southern gate of the Park from Jackson Hole and the Tetons will open May 13. There is deep snow here too, especially at Lewis River Divide.

The penned bison at the north boundary have been released. Hopefully they will go into the Park where grass is greening in the small lower elevation portion near the Yellowstone and Gardner Rivers.

Megaloads hearing to enter third week

Folks continue to have plenty to say-

Here is the story on the coming third week of testimony, from the Spokesman-Review.

It seems to me that local folks willing to testify are mostly unhappy.  Here is a detailed story about past testimony in New West. New Idaho Megaloads Hearings Address More Than 200 Shipments. By Steve Bunk.

Despite efforts by the Idaho legislature to prevent people from suing over the plans of the lovable oil companies, two new lawsuits on the issue were recently filed.  One is by the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Missoula County Commission against the Montana State Department of Transportation. The other is by Idaho Rivers United. IRU is against the Forest Service. The Lochsa River and a corridor 1/4 mile on either side is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and most of it is public national forest land. In fact the Lochsa was one of very first rivers protected, but the Forest Services is just standing by while the road right-of-way is being heavily chopped up for the wide and long loads.

The biggest gas drilling plan yet for Green River Basin

Encana could add 3,500 gas wells SW of Pinedale, WY-

Already reeling from the massive Jonah gas field, now a new field covering 4 times as much area is planned.  The “Normally Pressured Lance” natural gas field” (Son of Jonah, as some call it) comes at a time when the formerly pristine air of the Green River Basin has wintertime air so dirty it violates the standards.

Encana project could add 3,500 gas wells in Wyo. Mead Gruver, Associated Press

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management needs to asked how new drilling of this huge magnitude can be done until the agency can be sure the residents are being protected from the activities that are already underway.

The Wyoming Outdoor Council has a story on the project too (and a map). Agency needs to protect the residents of the Upper Green River Valley. By Bruce Pendery

Debris flow creates a big rapid on the Salmon River (central Idaho)

The new “Black Creek Blowout” could be the biggest rapid on the river-

This is big news for all who float or boat the main fork of the Salmon River below the Corn Creek put-in. I’d like to know more about what caused this blowout on April 1.

White water created on Salmon River by blowout. By Eric Barker. The Lewiston Tribune as reported in the Idaho Statesman.

Ivanpah solar project would disturb thousands of desert tortoises

Desert Tortoise, Dr. Michael Connor

The Ivanpah solar thermal project consists of 5.4 square miles of high quality habitat for the Endangered Species Act protected desert tortoise, a fact that developers (and some investors) underestimated resulting in the temporary suspension of activities on phases 2 and 3 of the project site due to construction activities exceeding the incidental take limit (number of tortoises allowed to be disturbed) the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set at 38 Endangered Species Act protected desert tortoises.

The temporary suspension of activities prompted the Bureau of Land Management to take a closer look, and issue a Revised Biological Assessment   () estimating the number of desert tortoise the project may impact given what we now know.  As it turns out, the initial incidental take limit of 38 was off the mark to the tune of thousands of desert tortoises:

More than 3,000 desert tortoises would be disturbed by a solar project in northeast San Bernardino County and as many as 700 young ones would be killed during three years of building, says a federal assessment issued Tuesday.

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