Fish Power


Filed Under Outside the Track on Oct 27 

One of the great modern debates is just how to generate the power necessary to run this nation. The United States is literally the Saudi Arabia of coal. Chances are the power you’re using to read this post began its life as some sort of dinosaur whose life was snuffed out and whose grave was subsequently plundered by a dirty stinking filthy coal mining conglomerate. It was then hauled by a sooty diesel locomotive to a power plant were the remains of said dinosaur were subsequently pulverized and burned.

Yeah, I used to run coal trains for a living. But I digress.

Today it seems everybody wants to get on the green bandwagon. We recycle. We buy hideously expensive hybrid vehicles. We celebrate Earth Day. So maybe you’ll understand why I found this photo exposé on the demolition of a Vancouver, Washington hydro electric dam to be so surprising.

For nearly a century, the Condit Dam has generated electricity for the surrounding communities. Granted, its not very much – 14 megawatts which translates into enough juice to run about 7,000 homes. That said, those 7,000 homes aren’t burning dead dinosaurs to keep the lights on. As far as I can tell, the dam was in good working order and had no major repair needs. In other words, it wasn’t broken.

Yet, yesterday explosive experts blew it to smithereens. Why? I’m glad you asked. Evidently the almighty Federal Government was going to require some “fish passage structures” to be installed on the dam in order to re-license it. The cost of doing so, in the opinion of PacifiCorp, was more than the dam was worth. Therefore they decided to blow it up rather than conform to the orders of the almighty Fed.

Now I’m no expert in the Washington State electric grid, but I don’t know if they have an extra 14 megawatts of clean hydro power they can re-route to fill the capacity lost by the Condit Dam demise. But I’d say there’s a better than even chance that 14 megawatts is going to be provided by the ever present and plentiful coal fires.

What I’m wondering is whether or not the loan sharks over at the Team Obama’s Department of Energy would find it more beneficial to have thrown $500 million at this dam rather than shoveling it down the rat hole of Solyndra and the other green-power-bankruptcies-waiting-to-happen. At least then the taxpayers would see some megawatts generated from their money.

Don’t get me wrong. I like salmon. Preferably fried in butter. But given the choice? I’ll keep the lights on.