Friday, August 13, 2010
I told you they were batty
Folks you cannot make this stuff up. Who am I referring to as batty?? Think the water worry warts (WWW).
The Hualapai Valley Solar LLC (HVS) project seeks final approval for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC) permit from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) at an upcoming meeting in Phoenix later this month. While I haven't been blogging about this subject since I began working in eastern New Mexico late last year, I have been following along as best I possibly can.
I ran into some information that I wanted to share to perhaps bring you up to speed (you might know a heck of a lot more than I do at this point) to what has been happening in the process. Last I heard the HVS group has been subjected to many public meetings and have met with some opposition from the local water worry warts.
There was a meeting back in June at the Powerhouse in Kingman where HVS asked the ACC to lift the stay on the permit needed to proceed. The water worry warts, of course, filed a response to HVS's request. HVS then followed up with a letter... and this is the information I ran into.
Wish I could share all of it with you but it is a 18 page PDF document -- but I'll share my observations on a few points I read. First, keep in mind that the information comes from the legal representation of HVS. The letter is a response to the information the WWW's offered to the ACC. I don't have the WWW stuff so I'm only going on what is in the letter from the legal representation of HVS regarding this matter.
Okay a few observations...
The first part of the letter is a reminder of information brought forth by the hydrology studies -- that there is plenty of water for all in Mohave County even with the solar plant up and running. It gets more detailed as it goes along.
This includes a bit about the hydrologist that was hired to do the study. The hydrologist is a registered geologist with a graduate degree in hydrology and has 30 years of experience investigating hydrogeologic conditions.
The hydrologist has been conducting groundwater studies in the Hualapai Valley since 2005.
The hydrologist put together a comprehensive groundwater flow model that simulates the effect of groundwater pumping on groundwater levels in the Hualapai groundwater basin. That information was shared with staff hydrologists that work for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). After a thorough evaluation ADWR approved the model.
The conclusion of the reports were included in a technical memorandum issued in November of 2009.
The conclusion basically said that if HVS was to use 3,000 acre feet of water for thirty years, the project's incremental impact will be less than 1 foot of water level change for wells in the nearest residential areas.
Now according to the letter, neither WWW representative provided any evidence to contradict the hydrologist's analysis and conclusions regarding water levels and impacts on wells in the areas in the Hualapai Valley. In fact the WWW response was mainly a complaint about Mohave County's water related zoning and planning decisions.
Can you believe it?? I can. The WWW representatives have been wasting official time at public meetings for many years in Mohave County.
But there is more...
Even without one shred of evidence, the main WWW representative insisted that the HVS project would require 8,000 acre feet of further depletion of the Hualapai Valley aquifer. Just because she (the WWW representative) says so. Hardly compelling.
Then the WWW representative testified that all of the most recent solar projects in California and Nevada were of the 'dry cooled' variety. According to the letter from HVS this is incorrect. Shocking. I doubt the WWW folks would know dry cooling if it hit them up side the head.
HVS responded by speaking of the Abengoa Mojave Solar project that is in the planning stage in California. Staff at the California Energy Commission released an assessment on May 25th of 2010 concluding "the proposed use of groundwater for industrial cooling would not significantly impact existing groundwater levels in the HVGB wells, the basin balance, or the quality of groundwater in the basin". The full assessment can be found at the California Energy Commission's website (docket number 09-AFC-5). The full assessment suggests the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Commission's decision to authorize wet cooling for that project.
The letter also goes into why it would be more costly to use dry cooling as well as they are less efficient to do what they are supposed to do (create energy). Fairly interesting stuff... all of it covered in prior meetings.
Lastly I want to share, from the letter, the 'other' reason as to why the water worry warts are against the HVS project. You will be able to tell that they really racked their shared brain for this one. WWW representative number two wants the state to do an environmental impact study and a promise to protect wildlife, including bats. That is correct folks... the WWW's are batty for bats.
According to WWW number two the HVS project would release particulate matter into the air as the water evaporates and that could be toxic to bats. The particulate matter in this case?? Dust.
Of course WWW number two did NOT provide any evidence that dust is toxic to bats according to the letter by HVS. An expert that testified in a previous meeting for HVS stated that he is "not aware of any studies anywhere that suggests that bats are dying from eating dust".
So all along it wasn't about water... how could it be?? The WWW's do not have any evidence that water usage in Mohave County right now is detrimental to the future of the area. So they come back with 'save the bats'!?!?
WWW representative number two also shares a worry that the roads leading to the proposed solar project would get increased use during construction and wants some government agency to include some sort of condition to further impose the folks behind the project.
The WWW sure looks like they pulled out all the stops... all without any documented evidence to back up their claims. Fantasy world. What is IN that well water anyway??
This seems to be looking pretty good for the HVS project in terms of getting the required authorizations from all the different levels of government and bureaucracies. Within the last couple of days the Hualapai Tribal Council approved/signed a Memorandum of Understanding with HVS that will allow them to pursue renewable energy projects together on Tribal Land that will share interconnection and transmission resources of the HVS project. It was another big milestone for the Project.
As for the WWW's... I'd say point and laugh at the most.