Pacific Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says

85% of new energy can be met by more efficient use of existing generating plants-

For some time here, we have arguing against giant, new centralized power plants whether of “alternative” or traditional energy. This means that few nukes, giant wind farms, coal plants, or space-consuming solar farms are needed.

I would have missed this. I’m glad Rocky Barker was alert following Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s new plan. Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Jim Yost, one of Idaho’s two council members (and a strong corporate conservative) said “Everything we add to the system costs five to 10 times the resources we are using today,” Yost said. By this I takes it to mean the marginal cost of new generated power is 500 to 1000% the average cost of existing power.

Wood fired (biomass) generation is not a clean and green technology

A new use for the bankrupt Missoula paper mill might save jobs, but beware of “greenwashing”-

“Biomass” fuel, as it is often called, is said to be environmentally friendly and carbon neutral. It may be that way sometimes, but cutting down dead forests, hauling them off and burning them to make steam for electricity is not.

Dr. Thomas Power discusses why this is so.

Guest Column (in New West). Biomass Potential for Old Montana Mill Raises Many Questions. By Thomas Power.

One additional problem Dr. Power doesn’t mention is what happens when the beetle killed forest fuel is exhausted or too much decayed and a green stand of trees is on the horizon?
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More recent wildlife relevant news on biofuels.
Both of these article say monocultures of biofuels are environmentally harmful projects.

Diverse Landscapes Are Better: Policymakers Urged To Think Broadly About Biofuel Crops. Science Daily
Jan.26, 2010. Biofuel Crop Diversity Adds Value, Researchers Say. Science Daily.

Landowner group tries to block wind development in Northern Laramie Range

Conflicting landowner positions on wind development is scrambling Wyoming politics

If you look at a wind map of the U.S., the Laramie Mountains are perhaps the best wind area in the United States. That doesn’t mean wind gets to override property rights, however.

Landowner group tries to block wind development in Northern Laramie Range. By Dustin Bleizeffer. Casper Star-Tribune energy reporter.
Tilting at Windmills: The Strange Politics of Wyoming Wind Power. WyoFile. By Jonathan Thompson

Geothermal Project in California Is abruptly abandoned

It caused earthquakes!

Geothermal Project in California Is Shut Down. By James Glanz. New York Times.

The person who emailed this story to me wrote, “Boy – If you’ve ever read a geothermal EA to destroy the nearest hot springs  – BLM never says anything about the earthquakes …”

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I have been skeptical of geothermal energy using hot springs and geothermal anomalies, which this seems to have been. No hot spring seems safe, nor even Yellowstone Park when there is a boomlet for geothermal power.

Putting wind and solar on formerly contaminated sites

Could the use of  “brownfields” reduce the conflicts over the placement of these land-expansive uses?

Contamination transformation. Contaminated sites being used to house wind farms, solar arrays and geothermal power plants. Mother Nature Network. By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It appears there is a lot of land in this category and many are near existing transmission lines.

Disputed Solar Energy Project in California Desert Is Dropped

BrightSource Energy drops project in marvelous desert valley with bighorn sheep-

Disputed Solar Energy Project in California Desert Is Dropped. By Elisabeth Rosenthal. New York Times.

This had been a great Mohave Desert controversy, prompting Senator Feinstein to propose the area as a national monument instead. BrightSource says they are now looking for new site somewhere.

Obama Touts Energy Progress He Calls Projects In Nevada, “Models”

The President visited projects done the right way-

These projects were near a load center and built on degraded land. I wonder if he thinks this is the way most Nevada projects will be, or whether he simply did a cynical PR ploy?

Obama said. “We’ll invest in the development and deployment of solar technology wherever it can thrive, and we’ll find the best ways to integrate solar power into our electric grid.”

I guess this means it our patriotic duty to make sure solar technology cannot thrive in the wrong kind of places — remote, scenic and biologically important areas, far from load centers.

Obama Touts Energy Progress. He Calls Projects In Nevada, Models. By William Branigin. Washington Post Staff Writer


Europe’s Way of Encouraging Solar Power Arrives in the U.S.

Europe encourages solar power in an environmentally friendly way that gives direct compensation to rooftop producers-

Europe’s Way of Encouraging Solar Power Arrives in the U.S. By Kate Galbraith. New York Times.

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.

Good news. Three coal plants planned for Nevada may have been killed

The worst of the three is the 1500 megawatt plant slated for Ely, Nevada-

Up in Smoke: Environmentalists say future of three proposed Nevada coal plants in jeopardy. By Phoebe Sweet. Las Vegas Sun.

An EPA decision and the bad economy probably means they are dead.

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Perhaps most importantly, the EPA decision also has very important national ramifications. EPA Coal Decision Levels Playing Field for Wind, Solar. By Alexis Madriga. Wired Magazine.

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Controversy over Bear Lake (Idaho-Utah) hydropower scheme

Proposed Bear Lake pump project has few supporters. Many worry energy project could alter the lake’s natural beauty. By Arrin Newton Brunson. Salt Lake Tribune, and

Local Environmentalist Speaks Out Against Bear Lake Hydroelectric Proposal.

Most folks in SE Idaho and Northern Utah are well aware of Bear Lake, a long and very deep lake straddling the border of the two states. It is also very close to Wyoming.

The lake has always had an unusual, beautiful blue color, and it harbors five rare species of fish. There is the Bear Lake strain of the Bonneville cutthroat trout, Bonneville cisco (unique to this lake), Bonneville whitefish, Bear Lake whitefish, Bear Lake sculpin (found only in Bear Lake).

Recreational use has been grown strongly in recent years, and the vacation home developments are becoming more and more intrusive. Resort plans take shape. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

Currently, there is much controversy and local opposition to this pumped storage hydroelectric project. Fears are it could change the lake’s color and devastate the ecology and recreation as well as the local economy.

Bear Lake

© Ralph Maughan. Bear Lake, Utah. Photo is to the NE from the foothills of the Bear River mountain Range. the lake really is the amazing blue color in the photo, and conserving that is a big issue.