August 3, 2010 - Horsetooth Reservoir; Maine wind; firewood

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

If you're feeling the heat today, perhaps you'll take comfort in this wintry picture from last January.  You're looking west across Horsetooth Reservoir outside Fort Collins, Colorado.  Horsetooth Reservoir is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which includes water diversion from the west slope to feed the more populous Front Range area of Colorado.  Horsetooth Reservoir also provides water storage for hydroelectric generation.

The Maine Forest Service is reminding people that there is a ban on using out-of-state firewood in Maine, due to concerns over invasive species including insects and fungal pathogens.  Firewood is a major source of energy in Maine, but pests like the Asian Longhorned Beetle threaten to severely damage Maine's valuable forests.  The Asian Longhorned Beetle is already present in Massachusetts, but has not officially been documented in Maine.

Today brings more coverage of yesterday's nomination of David Littell to fill the vacancy on the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Here's an editorial by Norman Kalloch in the Lewiston Sun Journal criticizing what the author sees as hype over wind energy.  He compares current tropes like "Maine is the Saudi Arabia of wind" to past busts, like nuclear power being perceived as "too cheap to meter.  (This isn't Mr. Kalloch's first such editorial; here's one he wrote this spring.)  Here's the punchline:
"In reality, commercial wind power is an unreliable, environmentally degrading, overpriced form of power generation. Nothing short of massive amounts of public money can make those projects happen, because no developer in his right mind would undertake a project without public money."

We're in for a blast of solar radiation tonight, as ions thrown off by the Sun during Sunday's coronal mass ejection.

How about energy efficient street lighting?  The town of Lexington, Massachusetts, has approved a $930,000 plan to replace existing bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).  Lexington's 3,400 streetlights have consumed nearly 2 million kilowatt-hours per year; this project will save 1.3 million kWh per year, totalling almost $190,000 annually.  This project is projected to pay for itself within 3.6 years, thanks in part to a $237,724 grant from utility NStar.

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