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The chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America (STA) (that really is its name), the world’s largest solar power project located in Riverside County, Calif., said last year when they received the second largest loan guarantee ever handed out by the Department of Energy ($2.1 billion), “This project will create over 1,000 direct jobs, 7,500 indirect jobs and more than 200 permanent operational jobs, and will play a key role in stimulating the American economy.”

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu said at the time, “Continued investments like this make solar power more efficient and cost competitive, creating thousands of jobs and strengthening the economy.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said, “Investments like this reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect our children from pollution and create clean energy jobs in California.”



Guess what? STA went bankrupt on April 2. Its parent company, Solar Millennium AG in Germany, went belly up last December. It now joins solar manufacturer Energy Conversion Devices Inc., Ener1, maker of batteries for electric cars, solar panel maker Solyndra and energy storage company Beacon Power Corp. in bankruptcy. They are all recipients of taxpayer-backed loans.

So the only jobs that are really being created are the $1,000-per-hour bankruptcy attorney jobs who will sort out this mess. Once again, the taxpayer is on the hook for another failed green fiasco pushed by the current administration.



Genesis Solar just received $935 million in financing and DOE loan guarantees for another project in Riverside County. This project boasts a “proven parabolic trough solar thermal technology,” according to the CFO of their parent, Next-Era Energy Resources. Say what?

The only parabolic trough among these outfits is a trough for taxpayer money straight into the rabbit hole.

Solar power will never be a viable alternative for electric power for the electric grid. Solar cells only convert about 15 percent of the energy they are exposed to into electricity – highly inefficient. Plus it has one really big enemy. The sun. Heat from the sun destroys a solar panel’s efficiency. Plus, it doesn’t shine at night.

Bob Anderson

Glenwood Springs

I recently searched Wikipedia for more information about gas compressor stations like the one proposed for the Colorado Mountain College campus. I learned that “Natural gas compressor stations are known to cause many environmental problems, including air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution.” Some sites have emitted extremely high levels of carcinogenic and neurotoxic air pollution.

I watched videos on YouTube that documented extreme noise emissions, explosions and fires at several gas compressor stations. The Hollywood film “Erin Brockovich” documents one community’s difficult fight to stop and clean up chromium VI and other toxic chemicals that were released into the soil and aquifer from a gas compressor station.

Any decision to install a gas compressor station on CMC’s residential college campus should be made with very careful consideration of the risks involved and the measures the gas company is planning to make sure that the above environmental problems cannot happen in this installation.

The articles in the Post Independent I have read describing this proposed installation have not mentioned any such due diligence on the part of either SourceGas or Colorado Mountain College.

Spring Valley is a very quiet, environmentally clean corner of the Roaring Fork Valley. It’s better to take the time and do the work to be sure that this is a good decision.

David Carver

Glenwood Springs

I bought gas in Rifle on April 13, only to be bowled over by the price: A hefty $4.19 per gallon. While I deposited a few tablespoons into my vehicle, I remembered what I saw on CSpan last week: The Democratic Steering Committee met to discuss high gas prices.

The experts who gave testimony pointed to Wall Street’s having become a casino where speculators buy futures with no intention of ever taking possession of the commodities they trade, in this case, gasoline. They said if prices continue to rise as they have, we are headed for a major depression because the recovery won’t continue as the price of gas fuels inflation. They stressed that we have no shortages, but are actually exporting oil and gas.

Their reasoning followed that we cannot rely on the free market principles of supply and demand, which would dictate lower prices in cases of market gluts like we have now, to protect us. They said that just the rumor of legislation to limit speculation would lower the price of gas and oil, just as it had in the past.

They cited that during the era of the New Deal, speculators were doing the exact same thing with farms. Congress wrote and passed legislation that limited speculation, and the price of farm goods fell.

In a time where I often hear calls for smaller government, I believe that in this case, we need our government to step in immediately to protect us from the greedy monsters on Wall Street who eagerly took bailout money but simply will not budge on the issue of their crippling the nation with high gas prices. As one of the experts at the steering committee meeting stated, “Free markets don’t work when they are rigged.”

I feel optimistic that the American people can effect change if we become proactive and notify our congressional representatives that they must enact legislation that limits speculation in the marketplace. Then, with the price of energy at a more affordable rate, our country can recover from dire economic times.

Pat Bolles

Rifle

The in-situ conversion process heats sections of vast oil shale fields, releasing the shale oil and gas from the rock so that it is pumped to the surface to be made into fuel. There within lies the problems.

In 2005, a study by the RAND Corp. estimated that the production of 100,000 barrels of oil daily would require a dedicated power-generating capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, assuming deposits of 25 U.S. gallons, with 100 percent extraction and 100 percent pyrolysis. If this amount of electricity were generated by a coal-fired power plant, it would consume 5 million tons of coal annually.

How would this much oil get to a refinery? Most likely through a series of underground and above-ground pipes.

Heating and recovery wells are drilled at 40-foot intervals within the working zones. Electrical heating elements are lowered into the heating wells and used to heat the oil shale to 650 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit over a period that could take several years. The kerogen in oil shale is slowly converted into oil and gases, which then flow to the surface through recovery wells to cool for transportation.

Shell uses a freeze wall that is first drilled into place to isolate the process from the surrounding groundwater. To maximize the functionality of these freeze walls, Shell uses a super-chilled liquid to cool the ground to a minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

What happens if a freeze wall fails?

Colorado is located in the Green River formation. Both sulfur and arsenic are found in this formation of oil shale. That poses a serious problem if these are somehow released into the air or ground.

New technologies have reduced the amount of water used from 5 barrels of water per barrel of oil down to between 1 to 3 barrels of water per barrel of oil.

But where does the water come from in dry years?

Harry Temple III

Glenwood Springs


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