The issue of the new coal-fired power plant is a thorny one, and I feel for both Truckee residents and the TDPUD board members. Still, I urge the board to reject the new contract, despite the temptation of cheaper power. The proposed contract is quite flawed, not even guaranteeing the touted lower energy costs. What it will guarantee is 50 years of a significant contribution to global warming; even if it is eventually sold to someone else, this plant will be built at TDPUD’s behest and will therefore remain your ethical responsibility. Please don’t sell out your residents’ kids and grandkids, and the planet they will inhabit, simply to save a few dollars now. How viable do you expect the Truckee economy to be once winter snow levels have significantly decreased? Instead, please continue to buy power from your current supplier while seriously exploring more-benign, long-term options, such as participation in Nevada wind-farm development.
I’ve always loved visiting Truckee, in both summer and winter. It’s a charming town, with very friendly people. So, it’s with considerable regret that I now make the following commitment: If this contract is approved, I will work hard to spread the word about the tourist boycott of Truckee that is now being organized. I would not do so to be punitive. Rather, to continue spending my tourist dollars in Truckee would be to support a decision that, while understandable, I find morally repugnant.
Back at home I’m working hard, along with many others in my Bay Area county, to develop an energy-aggregation alternative for ourselves so we can utilize more renewable power. You already have such an enviable opportunity ” please utilize it. Ultimately, you’ll be able to tell your grandkids you displayed leadership by being part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.
From what I understand, our district wants to lock in a 50-year contract before new 2007 regulations take effect, so that they can better manage costs over time. I appreciate their concern for costs.
Yet it sounds like we don’t know what those power costs will really be, from the yet-to-be-built coal plant. And, in addition to any uncertainties associated with the construction and start-up of a new plant, some who work in the energy industry expect the costs of coal-based power to increase over the next few years due to new regulations on greenhouse gases and other types of emissions ” to the point where coal-based electricity would have no cost advantage.
Fifty years is a long time to lock into one approach in a rapidly changing world. We all need power and it’s not a simple issue. We owe it to ourselves ” and to future generations ” to keep searching for options that will work well for the next 50 years, and beyond.
The PUD will vote this Wednesday on the 50-year coal electricity contract that will start in 2012 and run to 2062.
Imagine that you were a family farmer. Would you enter into a 50-year contract for some expensive service, knowing that it ran well beyond your time as owner and would saddle your son or daughter for most of their career, too? I doubt it.
The PUD staff is recommending to the board this very risky contract, without disclosing all of the potential for cost increases. It will likely become another Stranded Contract, early in its period, as other power sources become less costly. The PUD recently had this same problem with the IdaCorp contract, that was very expensive to get out of. Too many eggs in one basket, for a time of uncertainty.
Conservation is much cheaper than is coal power. Wind power has come down in cost for two decades now and is competitive in many places. Clean natural gas plants will become common in the future, as LNG terminals come online in California and elsewhere.
The staff says that not signing this contract will raise rates to customers about 25 percent. Conservation measures can easily reduce electricity consumption by this percentage or more. So, payments would not rise much, or at all, for most customers, both residential and commercial, if a strong conservation program is started.
Consider what was the world like 50 years ago?! This contract runs out 56 years from now! By 2020, we will have photovoltaic (PV) units on most buildings in the U.S. We will have a huge increase in wind power. Many families will drive fuel cell electric vehicles that generate clean electricity into the grid, during peak periods, from their garages. Tidal power will be generated all along the California coastline.
Please show up Wednesday to see if the board commits us to dirty coal until 2062 and tell them what you think.
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