Monday, May 11, 2009

Is There An Alternative Energy Double Standard?

Here's a water-cooler discussion topic for today:

"Given the fact that California has a moratorium on new nuclear power pending a resolution of the problem surrounding storage of spent fuel rods, should California impose a similar moratorium on new wind and solar projects requiring the construction of new high voltage transmission lines?"

The question isn't as "out there" as it sounds.

We've posted frequently about the fight between green energy advocates and conservationists. Now, the Sacramento Bee takes up the issue anew with a piece that looks at a brewing controversy in Northern California and that revisits an existing kerfuffle over a proposed solar array in Southern California.

According to the Bee:

"The $1.5 billion project envisions stringing 600 miles of new lines from northeast California to Sacramento and the Bay Area with a targeted completion date of 2014. It would be the largest power infrastructure venture undertaken in Northern California in nearly two decades, sponsored by a consortium of 15 Northern California municipal power providers, including Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the city of Roseville.

But it's also a new front in an emerging, nationwide fight over green power that pits environmental concerns against each other.

In Southern California, opposition – including some from Sen. Dianne Feinstein – is mounting against plans to erect a large array of solar panels in the desert, and the miles of transmission towers needed to connect them to customers in Los Angeles and San Diego.

The Northern California project could help bring online new, renewable sources of power such as wind, solar and geothermal. But it negatively impacts residents, wildlife and ecosystems beneath long, wide power line corridors."

If the environmental impact of nuclear power generation is sufficient to ban its use, should the environmental impact of wind and solar generation receive similar consideration?