January 20, 2009

Transmission Line Builders Wasting No Time

Vulcan Power Company of Bend, Oregon, is starting the process to get the green light from Nevada regulators to build a 347 mile, 500 kilovolt transmission line that would run from Yerington (Lyon County, Nevada) to Jean (Clark County, Nevada), giving Las Vegas and southern California access to geothermal power in northern Nevada (much of this geothermal power still theoretical). Geothermal power plants drill into underground reservoirs of heat and steam and use the heat to generate electricity. Vulcan has applied to the Bureau of Land Management for a 200-foot-wide right-of-way on public land. The line would interconnect with another powerline planned to connect Fernley, Nevada (near Reno) to Bishop, California in the Owens Valley. The Fernley-Bishop line is undergoing environmental review, and construction may begin later in 2009.

See the article >>here.

January 15, 2009

Our Public Lands are Now "Assets"

Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) appeared before a Senate energy panel considering his nomination to head the Department of the Interior, the federal agency that manages 500 million acres of public lands, including holdings of the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Salazar said he would expand solar and wind on public and tribal lands and also update the country's electrical transmission grid. But he added, "We must also make wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil and natural gas." In the Senate he opposed efforts by the Bush administration to open up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, but helped broker a deal to expand offshore oil production. Salazar declared, "In many ways, the Department of Interior is 'the real energy department' because we house the assets that are used as part of our energy role for this nation."

See the story in the Las Vegas Sun >>here.

December 19, 2008

Searchlight Wind Farm in the Works

A large industrial wind farm is planned for construction on public land in he Mojave Desert in the southern tip of Nevada, supported by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). "The project could become a key source of property tax revenue for state and local governments," says the Las Vegas Review Journal article >>here. See our analysis here.

^Senate majority leader Harry Reid supports massive wind farms.

December 13, 2008

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Powerline Threat

See the story >>here.


December 3, 2008

Giant New Powerline Corridor Gets Green Light in Nevada

A new 234 mile long powerline that would stretch from northern to southern Nevada through Pahranagut Valley, has been approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. The 500 kilovolt transmission line would connect Las Vegas to the Ely region, and would cost $350 million. To be built by Great Basin Transmission, owned by New Jersey and Texas energy companies, the powerline would go through deserts and intermountain basins slated for future solar, wind, and geothermal power plants. Currently the company is seeking utility investors to get financing to start the project, which would be completed by 2011. In 2012 another leg of the powerline would be extended from Ely to Idaho.

See the story in the Las Vegas Review Journal Here>>.

November 21, 2008

"We're Being Scammed" - Controversy Surrounds Solar Power Plants

Fox News Channel aired this story on "Hannity's America", November 16. Fox's Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Jim Harvey of the Alliance for Responsibility Energy Policy (AREP) about "the Big Solar lie and what our nation should be doing instead to truly become energy independent and protect our open spaces and water supplies at the same time". The coming renewable energy plans are seemingly going to split many environmental groups and sometimes reorganize who agrees with who.

Click HERE>> to go to AREP's website, and view the video.

November 18, 2008

Governator Terminates the Environment to Save the Environment. Huh?

RENEWABLES: Schwarzenegger Orders State Agencies to Expedite Projects

By Colin Sullivan, ClimateWire reporter (Source: Climate Wire - www.eenews.net/cw)

SAN FRANCISCO -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) yesterday took a first formal step toward a 33-percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020 by signing an executive order meant to expedite the siting and construction of clean energy projects. HERE>>

But there's a problem: The Governor wants to cut out environmental review processes when fast-tracking Big Solar, Wind, and geothermal projects.

Schwarzenegger said, "Environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress." He wants to cut out the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and possibly even the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), calling them "red tape". The big obstacle is building new large transmission lines from distant desert solar concentrated power plants, for example, to coastal cities.

CEQA, state law since 1970, has been obligatory for governmental agencies to follow to publicly identify significant enviromental effects of proposed projects, find ways to avoid damage to the environment, and mitigate any damages caused by the project. Adverse changes to the physical land, water, air quality, animals, plants, and historic objects are carefully studied by the lead agency, who puts out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIR), or at least a smaller environmental assessment (EA) if the California Resources Agency allows. NEPA acts in a similar way on a national level.

According to the state website that explains such laws, "The basic goal of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is to develop and maintain a high-quality environment now and in the future..." That goal may be thrown out the window in the wild rush to capitalize on new investments.

November 14, 2008

Water Rights Wanted by Solar Power Companies

^Springs flowing in the Amargosa Desert, at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada.

This article appeared in the Pahrump Valley Times on November 14, 2008: http://www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com/2008/Nov-14-Fri-2008/news/25076290.html

Order Bans Moving Water Rights Closer to Devil's Hole Pupfish: County Protest Seen as Likely 
State Engineer Tracy Taylor officially drew a line in the sand, ruling his office will deny any applications to change the point of  diversion for water rights within 25 miles of Devil's Hole, home of the endangered pup fish. ....HERE>>

Threat to Devil's Hole Pupfish

Nevada Assemblyman Ed Goedhart of District 36, which covers Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and part of Churchill counties, is thrilled with the new land rush for concentrated solar power. His district is the largest in Nevada, which means "the most land available to use this abundant natural resource" according to his website. “It is time we explore our vast wealth of solar power here in Nevada,” said Goedhart. “We should be mining alternative energies as much as we do gold and silver in the North and tourists in the South.” The parabolic mirrors of Solar One cover 360 acres in Clark County and the company has a lease on 2,000 more acres for the next phase. Goedhart wants to see more of this in his area. District 36 covers over 23 million acres: “So much sun and so much potential...” remarks Goedhart. (From www.EdGoedhart.com)

But if concentrated solar power plants plan to use wet-cooled systems, as does Solar One, then water becomes a huge problem, namely, where to get enough of it. Hydrologist Tom Myers, PhD, told us in November 2008 that the total certificated underground water rights for Amargosa Valley (Nye County, Nevada, and Inyo County, California) amount to 17,954 acre-feet per year (afa), and permitted underground water rights equal 7396 afa, with 7119 and 5326 afa of supplemental rights, respectively. The perennial yield is 24,000 afa. The basin is fully appropriated and the Nevada State Engineer is sensitive to the requirements for Devils Hole.

He went on to say, "But in Nevada at least, the State Engineer will not  grant water rights for these [concentrated solar power plant] proposals if the proposals exceed the perennial yield of the basin or if they will affect other water users. I think the applications we've seen to date FAR EXCEED the available water, unless they are using the type that don't require water."

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