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New power plant not such a good deal

By BILL KENNEDY Guest columnist 1/2/06

    Regarding the Herald and News editorial of Dec. 17: A new power plant could be a plus for our community if it were not for several overriding realities.
    Burning expensive, imported, natural gas to produce electricity at a merchant power plant is not efficient. The best place to burn natural gas is at the point of direct use. Examples include domestic hot water and blast furnaces used for industrial production.
    We all agree that our nation needs to be less dependent on imported power. There are better ways to produce electricity at the California-Oregon Border (Cob).
    The construction of a multi-million dollar industrial complex will bring an “economic spurt” to our county. Once the gas-fired plant is up and running, it will continuously ejaculate millions of tons of emissions such as carbon dioxide and particulate carbon into our local atmosphere.
    Here is the irony. While our state advocates for strict auto emissions standards the state also advances gas-fired generators that individually emit more carbon dioxide than all the internal combustion engines in our state.
    It is ironic that while a century old, multimillion dollar industry in our county stands to be devastated by twenty-fold increases in power rates, our leaders in government have not negotiated a benefit to irrigated agriculture from Peoples Energy of Chicago. Instead, our state and local governments have been swooned into another boondoggle, gas-fired plant, like the one that is such an economic asset to the city of Klamath Falls.
    I find it ironic that the Cob plant attracts power production in part because of the electric grid. Yet one Chicago Company has convinced our county and city that it needs an economic reason to build at the best location, location, location. The Cob plant has the infrastructure and it has the market potential ideal for a merchant production facility. Build the plant in Oregon, merchandise the power in California. No other economic incentive is necessary.
    We have much to look forward to as neighbors of People’s Energy of Chicago. We will experience a spurt of heavy industrial traffic through our homes. We will experience a spurt of temporary workers in our communities and we will experience the shame of some that have promoted this project.
    It is ironic that extreme environmental groups such as Water Watch have been as “silent as spring” regarding this development. Their members should be as ashamed as our government leaders for promoting the potential for tons of atmospheric pollution.
    While extreme green groups have blasted our community over perceived threats to our wildlife, there has been absolutely no consideration of the impact of an 1160-megawatt gas-fired generator on several thousand acres of designated wildlife refuge. The small footprint for the proposed power plant is very close to private lands that are designated by their landowners as refuge for migrating wildlife.
    So we move ahead and tear up our county roads, build an industrial box with smoke stacks, on top of seismic faults, in a very beautiful valley. When the electricity is flowing to markets in far away cities, along with our water, we can reflect.
    Today we are wise to:
    Be careful what we wish for.
    If we do not always get what we want,
    Think of all the things we do not get,
    That we do not want.




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