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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BLM told by public not to develop western oil shale

It’s a dirty and marginal source of fossil fuel energy-

Oil sands of Alberta are bad enough, but they look good compared to Western oil shale. Its development will produce little, if any, net energy,  while leaving much waste and giant pits. It takes a lot of water too, and the deposits are in the driest part of the United States.

BLM hearing in Salt Lake City sees much opposition to oil shale. Salt Lake Tribune. By Brandon Loomis.

BLM halts some construction at Ivanpah Power Plant

Threshold Number of ESA Protected Desert Tortoise Killed In Construction of Solar Thermal Plant

We just received notice that the BLM has suspended construction of some of the the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power Plant due to the project reaching its upper limit number of tortoise killed for the Biological Opinion and incidental take limits established in approving the project.

BLM halts some construction at Ivanpah Power Plant – Decision

Ivanpah solar project could displace 140 tortoises

Previous estimate was 32-38

The Bureau of Land Management has increased the estimate of how many desert tortoises will be displaced by the Ivanpah solar plant in southern California just southwest of Las Vegas. The previous estimate was that there would only be 32-38 tortoises displaced by the development. They now estimate that there will be 140 of the endangered tortoises displaced by the 5.6 square mile development. The new estimate has required the BLM to seek new consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Previous attempts at moving tortoises to new locations have resulted in half of the tortoises dying and similar number of resident tortoises dying at the relocation site due to displacement. If this relocation effort has similar results then it would result in 140 dead tortoises.

Tortoises are long living creatures that mature at age 15 and can live up to 80 years or more. They have declined by as much as 90% since the 1980’s due to habitat destruction and increased predation by ravens which thrive in areas where they previously didn’t because of human trash and livestock which die or leave birthing materials in the spring. They also are illegally collected by people who want them as pets. Land development, such as BrightSource’s Ivanpah solar plant, are also becoming threats to their survival.

Read more about Ivanpah

Ivanpah solar project could displace 140 tortoises.
The Press Enterprise

Natural gas drilling proposal in Wyoming Range gets 40,000 comments!!

Wyoming folks love the Wyoming Range and fear fracking-

An unprecedented number of comments came in on the Plains Exploration & Production Co.’s (PXP) plan for up to 136 gas wells south of Bondurant near Noble Basin. Most of the Wyoming and adjacent Salt River Range has been withdrawn from oil and gas leasing/drilling by act of Congress, but the PXP leases slipped through before the leasing was shut down by the Wyoming Range Legacy Act.

My experience in the Noble Basin and adjacent area is of some of the finest elk and moose country in Wyoming.  A domestic sheep beleagered bighorn sheep herd is nearby. The huge number of comments seem to have strengthened the views of new Wyoming governor Matt Mead on the subject of drilling, after maybe fracking the area.

Wyoming Range drilling project garners 40,000 comments. By Environment & Energy Daily in WyoFile.

Diesel Use in Gas Drilling Cited as Violation of Safe-Water Law

The practice of fracking, or hydraulic fracture drilling has been a highly damaging practice wherever it is used and now Congress is asking the EPA to take a harder look.

Diesel Use in Gas Drilling Cited as Violation of Safe-Water Law.
New York Times

Local megaload opposition relents on first 4 megaloads

Opponents of the megaloads drop fight on the first four-

Having lost before the Idaho Department of Transportation, opponents of the oil megaloads will no longer try to stop the first four of them.  These are bound for the existing oil refinery in Billings, Montana. The next 200 megaloads (not approved for now) are for what many see as the tar sand pits from hell in Alberta, Canada.

Movement of the first four should reveal much about who is right about them?  Will the loads have great difficulty getting up the highway and over Lolo Pass?  Will there be an accident?  Will they be safely parked during the day, or will they end up blocking traffic? Will the megaloads harm the highway surface or warp the bridges?  Will the megaloads generate any local employment beyond a few people holding signs and public revenues going to pay for highway patrol escorts?

Idaho megaload opponents: Let big rigs roll to Billings. By Kim Briggeman of Missoulian. missoulian.com

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Feb. 1, 2011 update. As Megaloads Roll, What Two of Three Plaintiffs Learned About Opposition. New West (feature article). By Steve Bunk.  New West has done an outstanding job covering the megaloads issue. This is their latest feature article.

I was particularly impressed with this quote in the article, “Referring to state troopers who accompany megaloads through Idaho, Laughy remarked, ‘I find it particularly interesting that our state could be contracting out our police to the South Korean government.’ ”  I say it’s a good example what happens when we (the United States) are well on our way to being a colony of the corporations of other parts of the world (thanks to the work of people like provincial governor Butch Otter).