Hydro plant would not be feasible
December 20, 2011
How can an environmentalist be opposed to the Aspen hydro project? How, I ask myself, can a guy who supported McGovern and was active in a Ralph Nader-inspired organization at the University of Minnesota in the ’70s oppose a hydro plant?
As a believer in human-caused climate change, I fully support renewable energy. I was perhaps the first person to start composting when the city made it available. I am just about as green as one can be. If I am not green, I am blue. I consider my political philosophy as progressive and fiscally conservative. And therein lies the foundation for my opposition. Does Aspen want hydro at any price? No.
I support the Aspen City Council’s efforts at taking a leadership position in environmental stewardship. The focus of this discourse is the balance between renewable energy and fiscal responsibility.
We elect the mayor and City Council members to represent us. They are responsible for the prudent and thoughtful spending of tax dollars. They thoughtfully listen to community concerns. Just about everyone that goes to a City Council meeting to express their views does so because they feel passionately about the issue they speak to. Our elected representatives are often acting as human lightning rods. For their dedication and energies I respect them. It is essential to understand that opposing the City Council is not a demonstration of disrespect. So it is with respect I express my opposition to the hydro project the city has undertaken.
I oppose the hydro project for three reasons. The first is economic, the second is on expediency and the third is on process. Space here does not allow a full development of all my reasons. There have been at least two in-depth economic discussions.
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The Aspen Times reported on Dec. 10, 2011 that Tier One Capital Management LLC presented a detailed economic analysis that the city attempted to discredit without creditable effect. The Red Ant’s economic analysis had not been refuted. Tier One reports that the project will cost between $16 million and $18 million. The city of Aspen projects completion costs at $10.5 million. A memo dated June 20, 2011 reports the costs of a drain from Thomas Reservoir with the required tailrace at $3.75 million. Add that to the city costs and the city estimate increases to $14.25 million.
If the desired effect of City Council’s actions are to reduce the carbon footprint and use renewable energy as soon as possible, then the hydro project is a failure. We can use renewable energy tomorrow. To use renewable energy from the hydro plant will take many more years.
For my money, the strongest arguments against this hydro project are economic. For the money the city has already spent on this project we could have purchased solar panels that produce green energy now.