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for people who care about the West

Keep power generation close to home

  Regarding your Aug. 8 article, "Clearing a path for power," as a veteran of a successful 11-year battle to stop a 345 KV power line from being built across the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico, I know how complicated and time-consuming stopping these power lines can be. Sadly, most large new power lines currently planned are utterly unnecessary, but the 2005 Energy Act removes the public’s opportunity to point that out and rescue landscapes from these huge, ugly industrial developments. Our current system of electricity generation depends on large corporations operating large coal and gas (and an few nuclear) power plants, then distributing the electricity over great distances on highly inefficient and expensive high-voltage lines. The big corporations that build and run the coal-fired power plants centralize their profits while externalizing the costs of their operations to the environment and the public.

It’s not too late for the public to prevent construction of most large power lines by insisting that power generation happen on a state or local level. Solar thermal power plants and wind farms are well suited for this. Aggressive energy conservation and solar home retrofits can obliterate the need for centralized power plants and their sprawl of power lines.

The Energy Policy Act of ’05 is a regressive act that cuts out the public from much decision-making and fosters undemocratic corporate control of our energy future. The power-line corridor matter is but one ugly extension of this already obsolete legislation.

Tom Ribe

Santa Fe, New Mexico