City’s hydro option the most costly
August 7, 2012
I compliment Steve Barwick on stepping up and discussing the issues that I have raised about the financial aspects of the Castle Creek Energy Center (“Bad investment advice on hydro,” Letters, Aug. 6, The Aspen Times).
I will address his comments.
If one reads what I have written, I am not opposed to hydropower per se. I only suggest that it be developed responsibly. I have actually defended the use of hydro at dams such as Ruedi and have even suggested that an additional turbine at Ruedi likely would make more sense than a turbine on Castle Creek, as reservoir flow is more reliable than stream flow and causes less environmental damage.
Nor have I ever opposed further development of renewable energy sources for the city of Aspen. I have suggested several alternatives, such as solar and wind, and further hydro purchases from dams/reservoirs, most of which are available today (not years from now) from outside providers at much lower cost than the Energy Center. And these sources will produce renewable power more reliably than the Energy Center.
I did not make up the information about how much it costs to generate electricity at Maroon Creek now and how much it is estimated to cost at the Energy Center; I got the information from City Hall and Mr. Barwick knows that. How much it cost to get Maroon Creek up and running years ago doesn’t matter now. Those are sunk costs. They might even be sunk costs we should have avoided then, as Maroon Creek was a disaster in the early years. But that is history. Mr. Barwick urges that we just toss away the benefit of those sunk costs, transfer the production to the Energy Center, and incur new, unnecessary startup costs there. And my financial analysis is faulty?
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Mr. Barwick doesn’t like my analysis of the data and suggests that building an inefficient new hydro plant is like replacing the old family car with a new, more efficient model. Well, let’s take Mr. Barwick’s analogy and think about it.
This is not about whether to replace the old jalopy, but about what to replace it with. City of Aspen has decided to replace the old jalopy (non-renewable energy) with new renewable energy. Did the city shop from car lot to car lot? Did it consider the Ford Fusion, the Toyota Yaris, even the Mini Cooper, any of which would cost under $30,000 and get great mileage? No. The city became mesmerized by the $200,000 Tesla and then refused to consider legitimate criticism of its choice.
Advice to fellow Aspenites: Do not consult City Hall when considering your next auto purchase.