Monday, September 14, 2009
Pretend Hunting and the Craziness in the San Louis Valley
Went last weekend to "scout" our bull elk hunting grounds near the New Mexico border in the southeastern arm of the San Juan mountains. It was a lot like pretend hunting except that we met real hunters, from Ohio, who had paid ten times what we pay for the privilege of stalking the giant deer. We felt like we were getting in their black powder way so we left early. Here are some photos from 11,000 feet above sea level.
This is one of my brother in laws showing his tension between camo and blaze orange. I have to admit that his coffee is a treat, with lots of brown sugar and cream. I cooked one night-- "the chain" from a cow para spinal, the tenderloin, I believe. With julienned onions and Basmati rice, it was pretty good. Oh, and we had some beer, too, as none of us pretend hunters had any firearms (except my brother in law).
It snowed a little (in a lightening storm no less) and it was pretty getting out. Here are some more photos of the drive home.
That's Mount Blanca without the eponymous snow. That's quite a cloud boiling up over it and along the whole of the Colorado Sangre de Christo mountains.
Then I drove past an interesting two or three miles of Route 17 in the Eastern center of the San Louis valley north of Mosca. There was a very large photovoltaic array.
They named it SunEdison, playing on the New York electricity provider Con Edison. It's the biggest array I've seen live and it was working. These smaller panels rotate as the sun moves across the sky and the bigger ones (really out of focus in my photos--sorry) both rotate and spin to present a big face to the sun all day. It's an 8.2 megawatt station. Yawn. If they built a hundred more of these they would equal a single big coal fired plant except the coal fired ones provide power at night, early in the morning, late in the evening and on cloudy days as well. Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill two years ago mandating 20% of our energy sources be like this (or wind, etc.) by 2020. Good luck with that, Bill.
This is the UFO viewing tower. Not quite the hotbed of activity its builders were hoping for. I have nothing more to say about it. As Jack Nicholson once said: Go sell crazy somewhere else, we're all full up here.
Finally there is an alligator farm, in Colorado. They raise the critters in the water from underground warm springs. They sell the meat to restaurants (tastes a lot like very chewy chicken) and the skins to hand bag and shoe manufacturers. I don't know where they get the gator chow. It's certainly not elk meat.
OK, which idea was the dumbest?
Which one has wasted the most money?
UPDATE: I've done the third grade math and the SunEdison array was slated to cost 60 million dollars with a 20 year life of the panels. That's $7 Million per megawatt. By comparison the new Comanche Station, part three, coal fired generator near Pueblo cost about $1.3 Billion and generates 750 megawatts. That's $1.7 million per megawatt for a plant that should last 60 years. Thus, if my arithmetic is correct, the solar array cost 12.3 times more than the coal fired plant (that's 7 divided by 1.7 equals 4.1 and then multiplied by 3 because the coal fired plant lasts three times as long as the solar array). This New Energy Economy is not making a lot of sense, fiscally, but that never was the Democrats' strong suite anyway.
That pretty much tells the story.
That said, there might be some value to building industrial-scale (ish) solar power plants even if they make no economic sense now, if only because you have to build a few before you can get your construction efficiencies figured out.
Now, we're not especially close to that break-even point right now, but other power sources are slowly rising in cost and solar is slowly falling.
Industrial solar isn't insane, though it might well not be timely (even as a pilot).
Upfront capital costs are high, but running costs are low enough to make it a viable technology for commercial use in some circumstances right now. The big constraint (other than capital) is that you have to have someplace to put the water. (This means that those who dislike other hydro-electric power plants are also likely to oppose this sort.)