Letters for February 5, 2009

Blown away
Re “It’s an ill wind” (Left in the Lurch, Jan. 15):

Regarding Mr. Farley’s ignorant comments on the NV Wind project north of Spanish Springs—Palomino Valley—I would like to make a couple of comments and ask a few questions. First, what are Farley’s sources for stating that most residents here are for this project? Had he done any research, he would have found that at all the meetings held over the last four months, more than 95 percent of the people present voiced or showed hands of disapproval of this project. Any statements of support he has heard for this project are from the developer or our biased CAB members who have ignored the overwhelming concerns of Palomino Valley residents.

“A few cranky hermits” are people with multiple degrees in specialty fields, professional business people and concerned citizens with enough intellectual fortitude to get up and argue their case in front of the Washoe County Planning Commissioners and get a continuation of fact gathering after a presentation by the developers that had people from the audience getting up to help them find information in their own plan book. Yes, we hermits stopped the approval process with our toothless presentation of the facts … at least for a while. We are under no illusions that this project, backed by the governor and the county agencies, will probably be approved. But if it is, it will be solely on basis of big monied interests, not on what this will do for any resident of the Truckee Meadows area, much less the residents of Palomino Valley. There is no upside on this project. It will not save us energy, it will cost us hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in tax credits to the wind developers, it will cost us more for our electricity, and it will negatively affect our property values. Come to one of our meetings, and get some of the straight talk from the “hermits” of Palomino Valley.

Tim Sanders

Dirty power
Coal plants burn coal to heat water to make steam to turn turbines to make electricity to send miles to our houses.

And there, we too often use this electricity to … heat water.

Kinda silly?

We should be building these plants (if at all) centrally.

That 60 percent waste heat can be providing free local house and domestic water heating, as well as spas and hot tubs, heating winter greenhouses, and a good heat source for 24-hour local manufacturing.

Additionally it will eliminate the need for building additional power lines and remind us daily that pollution is pollution, whether we see it, or it is hidden many miles away in the boonies.

Unfortunately for the coal companies, this may lower their profits. As above, central power plants will capture more of the energy, and thus reduce the use of coal, and eventually expand our reserves. This will in turn reduce future coal cost acceleration and demand.

But, a lot of financial energy speculators might take it in the shorts.

No pun intended.

No, I don’t object to a coal plant in my backyard.

It is much more environmentally and economically sane.

Of course, wind/solar/biomass are far superior.

Once you build them—it takes no fossil fuel to run.

About as close to free energy as we’ll ever get.

No to coal, yes to Sol.

Craig Bergland
via email

Wind and sun
Re “It’s an ill wind” (Left in the Lurch, Jan. 15):

The Truckee Meadows gets about 300 days of sunshine a year, yet someone seems to think we need a $190 million wind project in the Pah Rah range. Is the wind up there even that consistent? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which monitors such things, says no. I’m all for alternative energy, but how many solar panels would that kind of money buy? What if each of us installed one on our homes (that’s 50,000 or more) as our Palomino Valley neighbors have done? What if local government required each new home to have one, too? The customer and the infrastructure are already there. No behemoth wind towers; no ravaged mountain top; no buzzing transmission lines; no shredded pelicans. And Northern Nevada would still get its green merit badge.

Most people won’t read the Virginia Peak Wind project proposal, but if they took the time, they would see that Nevada Wind LLC has made a sales-pitch of monumental recklessness that scarcely addresses the real impact on the local landscape, wildlife, roads and citizens—because they can. The private land they will trample does not require proper review, guidelines, or oversight, only a cursory glance by local government. In fact, the developers’ hand-picked (out-of-state and unidentified) wildlife “expert” found just one (1) sage grouse, and no leks, even though NDOW designates the area as a nest/rearing summer and winter habitat for the birds. Their tax breaks and avoidance of BLM land make it quite cheap for them (no EIS required). Any conditions imposed upon this project will likely be ignored. They’ll come in, make their mess and a few kilowatts, and when they go belly-up we’ll all be stuck with the cleanup. More conscientious wind projects are actually on the drawing board in the area. (Check out Ridgeline LLC.) But we don’t hear about them—or the sketchy nature of this one—because local media has yet to undertake any actual reporting on the issue. Yet, despite its shortcomings, and as if the wind might stop tomorrow, this very first industrial-scale wind project in Northern Nevada seems to have everyone’s approval.

And what about those bothersome NIMBYs—the “few cranky hermits” of Palomino Valley—the majority of whom are already off-grid, and are actively proposing solutions to get this right—who can’t see the goodness in 450-foot wind turbines above their homes, or 120-kilovolt transmission lines and 70-foot towers running through their property? I suspect that if your neighbors had sold out to irresponsible developers, you would also be making a fuss. Not in your backyard, you think? Virtually every mountain ridge you can see from this valley is slated for industrial wind while we bask in 300 days a year of untapped sunshine. We should all be very proud of Nevada’s foray into the renewable energy future, but should we be wagging our collective tail at the first guy with a bone? It should be done right, or not at all.

Michael S. Meinert

Public trust
Re “Public documents” (Letters to the editor, Jan. 22):

I would like to praise you for withholding the names of the city employees in your posting of the city payroll on Facebook. But I would like to expand on my previous letter and the Editor’s note a bit. I think an open government is a great thing. I like to know where my tax money goes and whether it is being used properly. I have no problems with someone who takes the time to go and obtain a public record having my name, my rate of pay, my overtime, and my benefits paid by my employer. Someone who has taken that time will most likely have a legitimate reason for obtaining said record. But taking a public record and publishing it in a newspaper or online is a different story. Do you know if everyone that reads something online or in print is an upstanding citizen? Do you know that someone who is exposed in print isn’t trying to hide from a stalker or a jealous ex? You don’t. You need to ask yourself not whether you could print “public records,” but whether you should print them. Most of the public here in Reno has something on public record. I ask every person who has ever been married, bought a house, owns a piece of land, runs a business or has had a dealing with a court if they would want that information spread to the masses at a simple click?

Dale Kaduk
via email