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Letters – Nov. 9, 2022

Locations: Letters, Opinion Published

Re: Craig nuclear plant 
It’s too bad that some local powers are focusing on nuclear reactors to replace the Craig Station power plant instead of energy storage. One of the rationales for nuclear power is that it provides baseload electric supply. But many energy nerds now say, “Baseload is dead,” because there should soon be extended periods when wind and solar production exceeds electricity demand, particularly if renewables construction is accelerated as it should be. That excess power can be put into one of many available energy storage products, of which lithium batteries are just one. For those concerned about these batteries, almost all utility-scale batteries now use lithium ferrous phosphate, and do not require cobalt and nickel — only the more-common lithium.

The workforce in Craig can be employed without building a new steam cycle power plant. There are a few “thermodynamic” long duration energy storage cycles which utilize similar skills. As an example, the “Energy Dome” company just entered the US market with its CO2 compression/expansion cycle. At the other end of the spectrum, the coal power units can be modified to “cycle” more rapidly, allowing the plant and mines to keep operating for “backup” power while ramping down utilization. Perhaps during idle hours at the powerplant, the operators could fabricate industrial ammonia-cycle heat pumps. Other energy storage schemes like pumped hydro and flow “batteries” need skilled maintenance, but certainly less. The Delta Utah hydrogen/power project might also be a template, or not.

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The local nuclear fans should visit Australia. Moffat County is sort of the Outback of Colorado. Australia has already exceeded our wind and solar output in many areas, and is building and planning multiple pumped hydro and other energy storage schemes in addition to the big batteries already installed. They are ramping up wind and solar to provide many times their current electric use with “Power-to-X” facilities to convert excess wind and solar output to heat, ammonia, hydrogen, etcetera. The Aussies banned nuclear power 25 years ago, so are not distracted by it. 

It seems nuclear energy might make sense in Connecticut or similar densely populated, cloudy places with limited wind turbine sites. Then again, they might be better served by hydrogen-fueled power plants with fuel barged from floating offshore wind-powered electrolysis platforms.

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But, I can see no good reason for planning nukes in Moffat County or anywhere in Colorado at the present time.

Fred Porter, Carbondale

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Re: Gender toolkit 
I attended the school board meeting where the new LGBTQIA+ toolkit was discussed. I was glad to see the community treating each other with respect as opposing views were shared. Those who oppose this policy are often represented as being driven by hate, fear or a complete disregard to whether those who struggle with gender dysphoria live or die. Though it might be true of some, there are those of us who genuinely believe that this unprecedented experiment on children is being promoted with no evidence that our grown children will someday be praising the adults in their lives who encouraged questioning of their basic biology.

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Of greatest concern is the announcement that the policy will “adapt and grow.” Of course it will. Initial presentations of controversial policies never fully represent the final intention. Children may be encouraged toward puberty-blocking therapy followed by gender-transitioning drugs, ultimately leading to mastectomies and castrations. Presenting this process to unsure children would result in them entering into adulthood realizing that when the adults should have guided them to be comfortable in their biological birth identities, they were led to sterility and permanent disfigurement, having their sexual functions incapacitated by mutilating surgeries. Someday, people will look back at what we are doing to these children with the same horror we view grainy videos of barbaric shock treatments and lobotomies. 

We’re told this is student driven. Let’s get back to the adults teaching children that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. Let’s teach them to be able to look in the mirror and honor what they see. Then our children can start down the path of discovering their eternal destiny, accepting what nature and nature’s God has created them to be. 

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Jim Tarr, Basalt

 

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Climate action
“We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing,” so said Antonio Guterres, the chief of the United Nations (UN), at the annual UN climate summit in Egypt. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” he added.

Who does he mean by we? Apparently not Carbondale. A suggestion was made recently for Carbondale to hire a sustainability expert with the authority to craft a work plan to attack this problem. A member of the board said the budget was too tight. This is a budget that has millions for a swimming pool, sidewalks, work in the Crystal River and planning for more housing. I don’t think these projects qualify as “…the defining issue of our age.”

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I believe that making climate change the most important priority is a moral choice and imperative. Guterres also said, “Humanity has a choice…cooperate or perish. It is either a climate solidarity pact, or a collective suicide pact.” 

Patrick Hunter, Carbondale

 

Heat pumps
Do the power companies have you scared to death about the coming price increase for methane gas to heat your home this winter? Methane gas prices are projected to rise 22% in the coming months.

Just like with gasoline for your automobiles, the way to drive down the cost is to not use it. Eliminate the demand and rates will plummet. But how’re we going to keep warm this winter? The answer is heat pumps which heat your home with no greenhouse gas emissions and a much-reduced upstream carbon footprint.

“Heat pump” is actually a bit of a misnomer. It heats your home in the winter and cools the place in the summer like an air conditioner, but substitutes the climate damaging hydrofluorocarbons emitted by the air conditioner with new, less dangerous gasses.

The way heat pumps work is they redistribute what heat there is outside, even on the coldest day, to inside your home. They’re dependable down to negative 20 degrees. In the summer, the heat pump absorbs the heat inside and releases it outside.

The system is all electric. Your electric bill will rise but, of course, your heating fuel bill will disappear. Solar panels can help with the electric tab. Heat pumps use much less energy than electric coil or methane gas furnaces.

There’re many different types of heat pumps. On average, they cost between $2,500 and $5,500 to install, depending on the size and complexity of the installation. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act provides a federal tax credit of up to $2,000 for heat pump installations. 

And, heat pumps aren’t just for the rich. If your household income is less than 80% of the state’s median income and you spend $10,000 on a heat pump, you can get a $9,750 rebate from the state.

Information on federal rebates for heat pumps can be found on the Energy Star rebate finder website. Utility companies like Xcel or Holy Cross can tell you about state programs.

Several businesses in the Valley sell and install heat pumps including two in Carbondale: HVAC Technical Services and Solar Flair Thermal Systems. You can find other local heat pump providers at www.LoveElectric.org/installer-listing 

There’re plenty of heat pump installers, but demand for their services is very high right now. The job pays regular construction wages. Perhaps all the oil and gas workers who’ve supposedly been thrown out of work by state regulations would be qualified for the position. The two vocations require different skills, but interested parties can be retrained. 

Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale

 

Letter policy: Please limit your letters to 500 words. We are committed to including all perspectives in The Sopris Sun. If your letter does not appear, it may be because of space limitations in the paper or because other letters we printed expressed the same idea or point of view. Letters are due by noon on the Monday before we go to print.

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