CASTING OUR FATE TO THE SUN AND WIND.

This year, the Obama administration moved to streamline the development of large-scale solar projects on public lands by approving vast tracts across the West  identified as the highest generating potential with the fewest environmental impacts. These sites were identified after the results of an environmental impact report.  An area of 285,000 acres, with sites in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, California, Arizona and New Mexico are in the works.  Jim and I saw one of those massive solar plants  being built in New Mexico earlier in the year.  We wondered why it was out in the middle of no-where. We didn’t know about the way the sites were chosen. Anyway, net result is clean power and jobs, jobs, jobs.

When I had my solar installed, there was a handful of people installing under rigid inspections and rules to make sure there was no space for failure during the process. Now I could choose from 600 different solar producers and as many installers. The rigid inspection process is still that way. I’m investigating solar for a rental because costs have come down so far.

And, we get enough electricity from wind power for 13 million homes. The energy department predicts  that by 2030, we could get 20 percent of our energy from the wind, about as much as we now get from nuclear power plants.

But progress on wind power is in jeopardy because Congress  has yet to renew an important incentive set to expire at the end of this year. It is called the production tax credit, or PTC,  Without it orders for wind turbines are likely to stall, impeding our transition away from coal. The wind industry employs over 37,000 Americans, and we need to keep those jobs, jobs, jobs.

The PTC was instituted by the George H.W. Bush administration, a sensible policy where anyone who operates a wind turbine or solar biomass, or other type of renewable power plant that produces a significant level of electricity to the commercial grid, receives a federal tax credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power it produces for the first ten years of its life. It got renewed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package of 2009.

Two Republicans, Representative David Reichert, and Senator Chuck Grassley have sponsored versions to renew it through 2016 in the house, and 2014 in the senate. Neither measure  has come up for a vote but it is already being heavily lobbied against by the fossil fuel industries.

As a political pessimist, I fear the worst, and hope I’m wrong.  Wind generation is actually competitive in price with the energy produced by NEW coal plants and in my opinion no NEW coal plants should  be issued permits until they can reduce industrial pollution to an acceptable level. Coal plants actually cause deaths from their mercury, soot and carbon emissions, not to mention death to fish in streams.  Wind and solar save our planet from tons and tons of carbon emissions, a clean air benefit for everybody.

THIS HEADLINE WAS IN THE WASHINGTON POST YESTERDAY MORNING:

Security lapses at nuclear site found before break-in
Security problems at Y-12 nuclear complex were identified in classified reports nearly two years before three activists broke into the facility where weapons-grade uranium is stored.
( by Dana Priest , The Washington Post)

After the Japanese disaster, and the huge up front government subsidies to build nuclear power plants (way over the small PTC tax credits), and proven vulnerability of nuclear power plants,  why would we as a responsible nation even consider building more nuclear power plants? The cost to run them  per watt exceeds that of wind and solar. The volatile nature of Uranium, its storage and no ability to render it harmless, are an ever-present danger. In a nuclear plant disaster, the cost to bring it back on-line, if it could be repaired at all, is billions.

If you add into the equation the affects of climate change on hydro power,  wind and solar seem like an even better bet. Check the link below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/climate-change-challenges-power-plant-operations/2012/09/09/42b26b8e-f6a5-11e1-8b93-c4f4ab1c8d13_story.html

And, don’t get me started on fracking. What a dismal proposal that is. I hope you are listening Obama and Canada.

 

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