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Be careful about cost of replacing hydro power

Herald and News letter to the editor by Dennis Linthicum, Beatty 4/2/10

Elect Dennis Linthicum WEBSITE

    As a candidate for Klamath County commissioner I’d like to review the outlook for Klamath County’s energy future (March 25 article “On the grid”).

    The Department of Energy predicts a 50 percent increase in the cost of energy by 2030, with a 30 percent increase in demand. This necessitates the development of new energy sources or shortages will occur. 

    Pacific Power has requested a 20 percent rate increase beginning in 2011. This request follows a recent 5 percent rate increase. This represents a 25 percent total rate increase with 19 years remaining on the DOE horizon. This is not good.

    Additionally, the recent hydroelectric dam removal settlement will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions while reducing available renewable energy resources.

    It is short-sighted to promote the removal of 169 megawatts of renewable power through the Klamath River hydro-electric dam settlement.

    Another article describes the city’s lease proposal of a 22-acre parcel for a solar farm. While this may be a great land-use/lease agreement, the size, cost and marginal benefits of this farm ought to awaken everyone.

    If it takes seven acres of photovoltaics to generate 1 megawatt, then it would require 1,180-plus acres of solar production to recoup the equivalent of the four hydro dams.

    If we were to replace the current renewable hydro with solar, the cost would exceed $750 million, given that current solar farm development costs range from $4 million to $8 million per megawatt.

    My vote would be to keep the dams.

    Renewable hydro and geothermal power consistently show the highest return on capital investment (all things being equal). The return on photovoltaics would be fantastic except that every night the sun goes down.

    It pays to keep a watchful eye in the real world.

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