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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | We need Xcel's poles, wires
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Thursday, July 11,2013

Letters | We need Xcel's poles, wires

Correction: In the June 20 edition of Boulderganic magazine, the article “Straight to the Point” incorrectly stated that physical therapist Jan Dommerholt was involved with a court case in 2009 in Oregon. The story incorrectly suggested that dry needling cannot be practiced by physical therapists in Oregon. Dommerholt was also incorrectly quoted as saying that a study he conducted shows that .04 percent of dry needling patients suffer any kind of injury. Dommerholt’s study showed that the risk of a significant adverse event is .04 percent when dry needling is performed by practitioners in Ireland who completed Dommerholt’s dry needling course.

We need Xcel’s poles, wires

Mark Gelband’s letter of June 27 suggested that Boulder buy “green” electricity supplies while leaving maintenance of poles, wires and transformers to Xcel. Unfortunately, Colorado law says that the electricity distributor is allowed to pick the electricity provider. Boulder thus must accept the energy mix chosen by Xcel Energy.

This means that if Boulder wants to take back our electricity choice from the for-profit corporation Xcel Energy, and if we wish to stop spending our money for Xcel’s administrative overhead and stockholders’ dividends, we will first have to purchase the infrastructure through which that electricity will flow.

We will then have the choice in a free market to choose among competing providers who will be happy to provide us the energy mix of our choice.

MP Donahue/Boulder

Xcel Energy’s claims for huge “stranded costs” if the city of Boulder municipalizes its electric power system appear greatly exaggerated.

The City of Boulder filed a petition before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in mid-May. The city asked the FERC to rule that, after municipalization, if Boulder continued to purchase a portion of its electric power from Xcel there would be no “stranded costs” attributable to that portion. (For example, if Boulder continued to purchase 75 percent of its power from Xcel for the next seven years, there would be no stranded costs attributable to that 75 percent for the next seven years.)

Since Boulder filed its petition, several other parties have also made filings, including Xcel. No one has opposed Boulder’s petition in principle. If the FERC rules in Boulder’s favor, Boulder could avoid paying stranded costs by purchasing power from Xcel for a number of years.

So Boulder’s “stranded costs” may be much, much lower than Xcel claims. They might even be zero.

Xcel has been involved in a proceeding before the Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC). In that proceeding, Xcel estimated it will need from 345 megawatts [million watts] to 432 megawatts of new generation capacity in 2018 — five years from now. The capacity which could be “released” by Boulder if it municipalizes is 243 megawatts — much less than the needed new generation.

If the PUC were to approve selling Boulder’s released power capacity at full rates to new Xcel customers, or to Xcel customers with enlarged power needs, Xcel shareholders would notice no difference. Xcel ratepayers would save money because Xcel could avoid the costs of building new generation facilities.

In this case, there would be no stranded costs.

Phil Wardwell/Erie

Backing fracking

Kudos to Paul Danish for the first data-driven, honest examination of viable energy policy in a progressive publication. While any earth-loving Boulderite does not embrace further pollution of the air with ever more burning of fossil fuels, the truth is that few are willing to curtail their own use of electricity and fossil fuels when it means inconvenience to their lifestyle of travel and personal electronics.

Hence the only practical strategy to get us to a low-polluting, renewable, country-wide policy is to embrace natural gas as the “bridge fuel” and then double down on longer-term research with battery technologies that will make solar more than a fraction.

The one topic Paul doesn’t engage is the issue of a government bureaucracy central planning philosophy that is working against the safe fracking industry that can create higher-paying, long-term jobs and contribute to a bridge on carbon pollution.

I call on other non-ideologues to shed light on and to demonstrably support strategies that can move the country to a real market-based energy policy that will improve jobs and improve national security through lower foreign oil dependence called Natural Gas from Fracking! It’s not perfect, but it’s the best alternative for the next 25 years.

Frank Bergen/Boulder

More moratoria

Loveland voters have a petition going to place a moratorium on fracking on the November ballot. Fort Collins and Lafayette are headed in the same direction. The City of Boulder is making news for its decision to extend the moratorium there until June of 2014. There is a movement to create moratoria. There could only be this kind of action created by a galvanizing of voters because the legislature is not set up to protect citizens and the environment when it comes to oil and gas operations in Colorado.

The government structure was created by the people, and there are builtin mechanisms so that it can be modified by the people, as needed. That’s the beauty of the system we created in the United States of America. Elected officials take an oath to advocate the will of the people who voted for them. But right now we are seeing politicians siding with the oil industry, so voters are taking petitions to the street. Instead of fracking now and examining consequences later, there are ways to have an impact when people we elected seem to be bought out.

Halting fracking is the way to go at this time. These moratoriums are a way to override politicians who have lost perspective. Moratoria were created in our judicial system for a reason. This is how citizens can balance out the power of money and lobbyists. Moratoriums require time and energy on the part of the citizens involved, but right now they are our best option to keep Colorado lands beautiful, safe and healthy.

Laurel M. Miller/Boulder

Colorado secessionism

(Re: “Will Colorado come apart?” Danish Plan, June 13.) I can’t find much parallelism between the Vermont situation in the 18th century and the supposed (and probably minority) dyspepsia that may lead to a movement to have some Colorado counties secede from that state.

While what is now Vermont and New York seem to have been “created” at the same time, as were many but not all of the counties in Colorado, the “grant” of power from the ruling monarch of England doesn’t come close to being similar to statehood achieved, accepted and practiced under the

Constitution of the U.S.A. The disgruntled grumblers on the eastern plains seem to be the kind of people who want no government, not a government “to their liking.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, assuming such a secession is approved and enacted, further secessions from the “great state of Northern Colorado” follow soon after. Eventually there would likely be 120,000 states or so, revealing many states “of one.”

This sounds very much like Protestantism, wherein if you don’t like this church or that you simply start your own. Fine. But it’s still Christianity, hopefully. I don’t believe the mudboots up I-76 or U.S. 85 subscribe to the practical idea of a democratic republic. Anarchy is more like it.

Lotsa luck.

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

Fracking prospect

As parents of a Prospect Ridge Academy student, we are writing to express our concern about the proposed new oil and gas wells in close proximity to the school.

Due to the health risks and dangers that fracking directly poses to people exposed, nobody is exempt from the serious effects of the toxins. The children are obviously not the only people at risk, rather everyone near the site is at risk for health problems. The health problems that have been documented by people residing or working near fracking are not light in nature. They range from daily nosebleeds and nausea to endocrine system disruption and much higher risks of getting cancer.

In addition to the health hazards, there will be significant disruption to the surrounding area. At a recent Zoning Board meeting, a representative discussing Sovereign Energy’s proposal admitted that the traffic from big rig trucks would be “tremendous” during drilling, and when pressed, said maybe 100-200 trucks per day would be coming and going, per well. Some trucks will carry water, some sand and some toxic chemicals, which are combined with millions of gallons of our precious resource, water, to make up the fracking fluid that will be pumped into each well. Drilling will go on throughout the day and night — 24 hours with light, noise and vibration. The representative said it would take approximately one month per well. One proposal is for 11 additional wells to be drilled. But there are permits for a total of 31 new wells in the area.

The increased traffic, excessive pollution from the large trucks and noise in and of itself would surely be disruptive each school day. This coupled with the far worse effects of air pollution and release of toxic chemicals in such close proximity to where our children, teachers and staff of PRA will be each day is simply unthinkable; yet it is being considered. An abundance of documentation and testimonials from people in neighboring Erie are readily available as evidence of the risks and serious health problems that fracking poses, especially when conducted so close to where people live, learn and work.

To those who question the health risks, we ask then, why is the industry exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Act? And to the rest, we ask, is this the environment in which we want to educate our children?

Jamie and Michelle Judson/Thornton

Meat and climate change

A review of 12,000 papers on climate change in the May 15 issue of Environmental Research Letters found that 97 percent of scientists attribute climate change to human activities. Although we’re unlikely to reverse climate change, we can mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, energy use and meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent. Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is generated by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

Each of us has the power to reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch meats, hotdogs, veggie burgers and soy and nut-based dairy products, as well as an ample selection of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes, and transition tips can be found at www.livevegan.org.

Stanley Silver/Boulder

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