Supporting the best hydroelectricity
October 6, 2011
I’ve worked in Aspen for years and own property in the Roaring Fork Valley. So although Castle and Maroon creeks are not in my backyard, I still care about their health and I always hate to see any taxpayer money ill-spent.
Therefore, I’d like to see two things handled properly and candidly regarding the proposed hydro project. One involves honest recognition of potential impacts to the streams, and the second involves a thorough evaluation of project economics.
First, experts in stream ecology are constantly finding more and more detrimental micro and macro ecosystem impacts from dewatering streams, especially biodiversity-rich, gravel-bed systems like these. I understand that all energy production will have its environmental impacts but just because we may prefer hydro to coal doesn’t mean we should be disingenuous about the current science behind diversion projects such as in this proposal.
Second, considering this project is taxpayer funded, we should investigate all the other economically feasible options to ensure our best bang for our buck. For example, what if we can make Ruedi 10-20 percent more efficient? The permitting process would be much faster and less contentious, there’d be no additional environmental impact, and the city wouldn’t be facing the new water rights lawsuit it’s gotten itself into.
I don’t think Aspen or the world has time or money to waste on legacy projects. I’m not going to be guilted into having to support a project just because it’s renewable energy and the city tells me it’s good.
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Show me legitimate economic and environmental analysis of all the feasible alternatives, and then and only then you’ll get (and should get) community support for the best solution.