…also wind and geothermal energy.
Well, to be precise, it’s not so much the generation of these energy types that is being protested…just the construction of the transmission lines required to get the electricity to the point where it is needed.
Southwestern desert areas are a logical place to put solar power plants, and large-scale solar developments–as well as wind and geothermal–are planned for an area about 150 miles from San Diego. The local utility, San Diego Gas & Electric, wants to build a transmission line (the “Sunrise Powerlink”) to connect these power sources with the city. The project is encountering fierce opposition, because the lines would go through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, known for wildflowers, cacti, and spectacular mountain views.
I haven’t been to this state park, and it may well be an area of unique and surpassing beauty. Maybe there is a better approach to satisfying San Diego’s energy needs.
How about nuclear?…new nuclear plants could be located closer to San Diego, thereby avoiding most of the transmission line run. Any such project would, of course, also encounter fierce opposition; the opponents would doubtless include many of those now protesting the Sunrise Powerlink.
Coal or natural gas? These do not count against the “renewable energy” targets which the utility is required to meet…also, natural gas leaves consumers exposed to future large price increases if demand for this commodity outstrips supply.
Rooftop solar? Even if there is enough available roof area in San Diego (which I doubt), solar cells do not have the inherent energy-storage capabilities of the large-scale solar-thermal plants which can be located in the desert, nor do they offer the 24X7 capabilities of geothermal. (Local distributed generation would also surely require upgrading the city’s distribution system, resulting in inconveniences to quite a few people.)
Local wind? Every single wind turbine would likely be the target of protests and litigation. And again, wind turbines have no inherent storage capabilities.
The reality is, there are no perfect ways to generate energy. In the age of wood-fueled homes and industry, forests were devastated. Thousands of waterwheel-powered mills interfered with the navigation of streams. The destruction of forests for fuel was stopped by the coming of coal, but coal brought its own negatives. In the 1930s, leftist intellectuals sang the praises of large-scale hydropower–but dams and reservoirs, of course, can displace thousands of people, as well as altering natural river flows and making life difficult for fish.
In the linked WSJ article, the President of the California Parks Foundation is quoted as follows:
The idea that we’re going to sacrifice critical pieces of our environment to protect other pieces of our environment seems a little ironic. That’s an irony I cannot accept.
I’m missing the irony. It is often necessary to trade off good things against other good things, or bad things against other bad things. Indeed, the making of such tradeoffs is a fundamental aspect of adult life.
California governor Schwarzenegger is frustrated by the opposition to project such as the Sunrise Powerlink:
But, I mean, if we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where the hell we can put it.
I fear that the thriving protest industry will make it impossible to develop practical power sources of any type on a scale necessary to meet demand. If this happens, then the impact on the economy–and specifically on the “working families” about which the Democrats love to talk–will be devastating, and recovery will be a long, slow, and painful process.
UPDATE: See this Forbes article on the coming electricity shortage. Via Instapundit, who says: I guarantee, however, that those who have been blocking new power plants won’t take responsibility for the problems they’ve created. Instead, they’ll blame evil corporations.