Coal contract is a problem, not a solution | SierraSun.com

Coal contract is a problem, not a solution

Neal Mock
My Turn

I am getting dizzy from the spin emanating from Truckee Donner Public Utility District. Let’s identify the spin and do a reality check.

Spin: Our power content label has no relationship to reality and we can’t know where our power comes from. Yet we do know that 90 percent of our power already comes from coal. Further spin: We get 16 percent of our power from renewables.

Reality check: if we can’t know our power content we can make no claims about it. If we choose to make unsubstantiated claims they should add up to 100 percent.

The spin around the 50-year contract to buy into IPP3 follows:

– Spin ” Construction costs are $1 billion.

– Reality ” the town of Rupert, Idaho, just voted down IPP3 and their published info claimed $2.1 billion construction and financing costs.

– Spin ” IPP3 will be a state-of-the art facility and therefore less polluting.

– Reality ” If IPP3 is built, CO2 emissions from the IPP plant will make it the second largest CO2 emitter in the nation.

– Spin ” Our power pricing will be fixed at $35/Mwhr (below market)

– Reality ” Their own rep at the Nov. 15 meeting admitted variables in pricing because of construction, fuel (coal) and transportation costs. Don’t forget inevitable CO2 tax add-ons. This plant will not be built until 2012. Do your own reality check.

What were your construction/ transportation costs six years ago and now?

– Spin ” we could sell our interests in the plant.

– Reality ” We would only want out if it became a bad deal. Who then would want to take over payments? No one in California after this Jan. 1 because it will be against the law.

– Spin ” renewable energy is not yet viable, our board has done due diligence to get it but transmission line issues preclude it.

– Reality check ” Loyalton has a biomass power plant with extra capacity and has supplied Truckee with power during outages involving SPP lines from Reno.

Our baseline power source does not have to be exclusively coal for the next 50 years. Truckee has a huge pool of talented folks who have made renewable energy and sustainability a central focus in their lives. They would be willing to work with the PUD to expedite alternatives.

A 50-year coal contract is a serious problem, not a solution. No amount of spin or fear can convince me otherwise. As our recent national election outcome showed, the politics of fear and spin are no longer effective. We as a community are quite capable of rising to this challenge.

Please e-mail or call our TDPUD board members before the Nov. 29 vote to encourage them to move toward creative and sustainable energy solutions. Make your presence felt at the next board meeting. Don’t succumb to fear and spin. To quote an old lyric from The Who, “I’ll get down on my knees and pray, we won’t get fooled again.”

Neal Mock has worked installing renewable energy in this area since the installation of a 3.2 Kw photovoltaic system at his residence on Brook lane in 2002.