Darcy Farrow

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

“Where the Walker runs down to the Carson Valley plains,

There lived a maiden, Darcy Farrow was her name.

The daughter of old Dundee and a fair one was she,

The sweetest flower that bloomed on the range.”

Traveling often reminds me how many places I know only through songs. I’ve made a (poor) living as a musician at various times in the past, and that’s a few lines from a song by Ian and Sylvia that I’ve sung many times. But it wasn’t until today that I’d ever seen either the Walker River or the Carson Valley. They are both lovely … at least in the late summer. I’m not making any claims about what it’s like during the winter, but then I’m a tropical boy, so what do I know.

When you come south from Lake Tahoe, you come first to Topaz Lake. There have been forest fires the last few days on the western slope of the Sierras, with the smoke blowing over the mountains to where we were traveling. So all the pictures are hazy.

gc lake topazAfter Topaz Lake you’re in the Carson Valley, and then the Antelope Valley, running along the Walker river. We stopped in the town of Bridgeport, on Bridgeport Lake. It’s on the upper Walker river, where the river is so small you could almost jump across it.

gc walker riverAs you can see, we’re back in sagebrush country. It’s the bush with the yellow flowers, and it grows all over the west. It has a lovely pungent smell, one that is the essence of the desert to me.

After leaving Bridgeport, we took the advice that the commenter “fizzissist” gave me yesterday and stopped at at the Whoa Nellie Deli in the town of Lee Vining for their mango margarita and their lobster taquitos … excellent advice, excellent food, and excellent drink, for which we’re most grateful. The deli overlooks Mono Lake, a part of history of the never-ending water wars of the West. It is a curious lake, in that it has no outflow except by evaporation.

Back in 1913, the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the Owens River, which fed Mono Lake. And again in 1941, they diverted a couple more rivers that fed Mono Lake, in order to slake the thirst of the Los Angelinos. As you might imagine, this caused the surface of Mono Lake to fall. One of the stranger things this did was to expose the “tufa towers”. Tufa is a variety of limestone that forms by precipitation of carbonate minerals from springs. There were springs below the surface of Mono Lake, and they created bizarre towering accretions of tufa that are now above lake level.

gc mono lake tufaFinally in 1994 after much fighting, the diversion of water from the lake was greatly reduced. The lake has recovered somewhat, but obviously from the tufa towers there’s more to go, and the recent drought hasn’t helped

Want to know the good news? Limestone is made of carbon dioxide, so the tufa towers are protecting us from the eeeevils of carbon dioxide by binding it up into tufa … I feel so much better knowing that the non-problem is under control.

There’s not much growth around Mono Lake, it’s mostly desert except for a curious tree …

gc cell towerActually, that’s a cell phone tower with fake branches … but it’s not a bad disguise.

From there we went east towards Tonopah, Nevada. When we crossed into Nevada we were in Esmeralda County, which is a most odd county indeed. It’s odd because despite having an area of 3,600 square miles (9,300 square km), it has a total population (2010 census) of 783 souls, and not one single incorporated town in the whole county. A beehive of activity, indeed.

And having driven across the whole county, I can see why. Despite having amazing rock formations testifying to repeated compression and folding …

gc rocks tonopah… and despite having the awesome White Mountains that go up forever, and are naturally white, that’s not snow …

gc white mountain… it’s still one of the bleaker parts of our amazing planet.

The biggest surprise of the day, though, came when we got near to Tonopah, Nevada. I looked out across the desert into the far distance, and I thought, dang, that’s one of them ugly solar towers if I ever saw one. I didn’t know there was one near Tonopah. And when we neared it, indeed it was as I feared:

gc solar towerA bit of research established that this is the Crescent Dunes solar power tower. It’s not quite completed, so at this point you’d think it would be the only solar power tower in the US that has never burned a single bird alive … but noooo.

The problem is that when the solar tower is in operation, the 17,500 mirrors will focus on the central white tower. The tower will become the brightest object in view, and of course, this will attract lots and lots of insects. The insects, in turn, attract lots of insectivorous birds, and the birds in turn attract raptors like eagles and hawks.

And when the birds and raptors fly into the beams of sunlight reflecting from the mirrors, their feathers catch fire, and they die a horrible death, plunging to the earth in flames. The operators of the solar towers call these hideously killed birds “smokers”, because of the smoke trails they leave behind as they are fried to death.

As a result, even though the Crescent Dunes project it hasn’t even entered operation, the plant has already killed 130 waterbirds during a test in January 2014. Biologists on the ground reported seeing the birds fly into the solar flux, “turn white, and vaporize” … ugly, and that’s just a warm-up.

But wait, it gets better. Despite being in the middle of the desert, the plant itself will use up to half a million gallons of water per day, including cooling tower water, blowdown water, floor drain water, and the like. In addition, it will need up to another two hundred thousand gallons of water just to wash the 17,500 mirrors (about ten gallons [38 litres] per mirror). Finally, it will need up to another two hundred thousand gallons for dust control, since nothing grows under the mirrors to hold the ground in place, and the winds can blow around here. As a result, authorized total water use will be up to 900,000 gallons (3.4 million litres) of water per DAY. Meanwhile, “environmentalists” are all agog and protesting like crazy about the one-time water use for fracking each well … pathetic.

But wait, it gets better. The construction was supposed to provide 600 construction jobs … but in the event, according to the locals I spoke with, the owners imported cheap labor from overseas, and very few jobs went to the locals.

But wait, it gets better. If the project goes belly-up, the taxpayers are on the hook because of a half-billion dollar government loan guarantee from the Obama Administration. I swear, I do not understand this. If the banks aren’t willing to give a loan to some shonky project like this one, what makes the Department of Energy so much wiser about monetary risks than the bankers who loan money for a living? Not only that, but the solar project is built on 1,600 ares (650 hectares) of government land. How does that work? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the Obama Administration is once again rewarding its rich friends with sweetheart “green” deals that line their pockets while screwing the consumer, but each new revelation never fails to shock me.

But wait, here’s the best part. The owners of the Crescent Dunes solar tower have signed an exorbitant agreement with the Nevada Power Company, which will pay them the absolutely outrageous sum of US$0.135 per kilowatt-hour … that’s a cent and a half more than my power costs in California, where power costs are already jacked up by this same kind of renewable nonsense. That means that after wheeling costs (the all-up cost of the transmission of the power) Nevada Power will be charging its customers something like sixteen to eighteen cents per kilowatt-hour or so for power which is unavailable half the time …

And despite that, I keep hearing from the innumerate that solar power is competitive with fossil fuels.

In summary, the Crescent Dunes project burns birds alive, it only provides part-time power, it uses nearly a million gallons (3.4 million litres) of water per day, it’s only possible because of government collusion, it didn’t provide the jobs claimed by its owners, and it delivers hideously expensive power … but by gosh, it is renewable, so all is forgiven and what’s not to like?

In any case, once the bird-murdering madness was thankfully behind us, we arrived at Tonopah where we’re spending the night.

My regards to all commenters, even though I don’t answer your comment please know that I’ve read it. As before, if you’d like to hoist a beer with us and are on our way, email me at willis.eschenbach at yahoo . com. I can’t promise to answer your email, but it will indeed be read and appreciated.

All the best,

w.

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66 thoughts on “Darcy Farrow

    • I usually like to clean them before cooking them to an internal temperature of about 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit. These things scorch the outside to 1000 f and leave the inside raw…might be good for coyotes but not this American.

  1. These large solar projects are the most hideous environmentally damaging projects ever to grace this earth. Don’t even get me started on the bird choppers.

  2. But wait! It gets even worse than you thought, Willis!
    “… will pay them the absolutely outrageous sum of US$0.135 per kilowatt-hour … that’s a cent and a half more than my power costs in California.”
    “Nevada Power will be charging its customers something like sixteen to eighteen cents per kilowatt-hour or so for power which is unavailable half the time …”
    I’m thinking that 13.5 cents is at the plant fence. If memory serves, average wholesale price at the fence from existing fossil and nuclear plants in the U.S. today is somewhere around 4-cents. That means that if you are currently paying 12 cents at your home, 8 cents of that is wheeling costs, fixed utility costs that are prorated among utility customers and utility taxes. Those costs continue on regardless of the source of the power. I’m thinking that if all your juice came from this grotesquely subsidized and government guaranteed “Solar Tower of Power”, your 12 cent rate would increase to somewhere north of 21 cents. Take away the subsidies and loan guarantees and you’d be headed for 50 cents per kwh at your home to justify this turkey.

  3. Willis,
    You mentioned that you are going to be in Flagstaff, AZ. Could I suggest that you should not miss a visit to Meteor Crater nearby…If you haven’t seen it before it is something I guarantee you will never forget. Yes, the Grand Canyon is hugely impressive but that took hundreds of millions of years to form…Meteor Crater only a few minutes…pretty sobering stuff. There are things out there much more worrying than little old CO2!

  4. I swear, I do not understand this. If the banks aren’t willing to give a loan to some shonky project like this one, what makes the Department of Energy so much wiser about monetary risks than the bankers who loan money for a living?

    What you are failing to connect with is that this is all about saving the banks, not saving the environment. Politicians know AGW is BS but are taking advantage of the flocks of frightened sheep. If voters are clambering for ‘action on climate’ it is much easier politically to get them to accept such spending as a new green deal, climate fund or loan guarantees than it is to come straight and give another $100bn of taxpayers money directly to some cartel of anonymous bankers to recapitalise their roulette wheel.
    Obama is a vassal of the bankers. like every president before him since at least Woodrow Wilson.

    Presidents are not elected they are selected

    Franklin D. Roosevelt

  5. But wait, it gets better. The construction was supposed to provide 600 construction jobs … but in the event, according to the locals I spoke with, the owners imported cheap labor from overseas, and very few jobs went to the locals.

    Hey bud, this is a free market. You would not want some commie bureaucratic busybody trying to distort the labour market by imposing conditions by fiat would you ??
    .

    it didn’t provide the jobs claimed by its owners,.

    Where do you get the idea it did not create jobs? Did it build itself?
    If you mean it did not create LOCAL jobs, did the owners promise that it would, or was that just _assumed_ to be what was said?

    • Mike September 8, 2015 at 12:34 am

      But wait, it gets better. The construction was supposed to provide 600 construction jobs … but in the event, according to the locals I spoke with, the owners imported cheap labor from overseas, and very few jobs went to the locals.

      Hey bud, this is a free market. You would not want some commie bureaucratic busybody trying to distort the labour market by imposing conditions by fiat would you ??

      Thanks, Mike. I’ll let you explain the finer points of promises that aren’t really promises to the locals here. They aren’t as phlegmatic as you are about the missing jobs …
      w.

      • I’m really curious about the whole imported-cheap-labor thing. This is a project built with government funding. Davis-Bacon wages should apply, thus no incentive to “import” cheap labor. Unless the contractors are *gasp* cheating on their payments to their workers.
        Let’s see, couple hundred workers, $5,000 fine for each infraction (per worker, per pay period) plus the difference in the wages…that’s a whole lot of economic hurt waiting for someone.

      • D.J. Hawkins,
        Davis-Bacon only applies when it is a direct government contract (i.e., providing a service to the government). Generally speaking, loan guarantees don’t have provisions like that in the text, so the business is free to do pretty much whatever they want. The DOE green loans guarantees have almost no controls whatsoever, so this company could build a Hollywood set for a plant then pay all the executives the loan guarantee amount as bonuses and declare bankruptcy with no repercussions as long as they gave the appropriate campaign donations to the right PACs.

      • @Owen
        I won’t pretend to be an expert, although I have more experience than the average bear in this area. Here in part is what the DOL says:
        “The Davis-Bacon Act applies to contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal or District of Columbia contracts. The Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage provisions apply to the “Related Acts,” under which federal agencies assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance.” Bold emphasis mine.

      • Hilarious … also, I don’t think (but I’m far from an expert) that the Davis-Bacon Act prevents you from hiring foreign workers. Anyone know?

        Nope, Davis-Bacon doesn’t care where you call home. The DB rate for laborers in Maricopa county with fringes is $16.04/hr. An electrician is $36.53/hr. Back in the ’30’s contractors would run convict labor up north to do federal projects. Even with the expense of “renting” the labor from southern prisons and putting them up somewhere near the project site they made a killing because you couldn’t get local labor to work for pennies a day. DB was intended to even the playing field by forcing all contractors to pay the local “prevailing” wage (read union contract) on federal projects. The threshold is $2,000. This made it uneconomical to engage in “rent-a-felon” to secure your labor pool.

  6. …exorbitant agreement with the Nevada Power Company, which will pay them the absolutely outrageous sum of US$0.135 per kilowatt-hour … that’s a cent and a half more than my power costs in California, where power costs are already jacked up by this same kind of renewable nonsense.

    Count yourselves lucky. The UK govt recently signed a deal with EDF to pay TWICE the current wholesale rate for energy produced by a new nuclear plant. It gets better, the deal is indexed linked.
    Renewable has little to do with it, we are getting screwed whatever the deal is.

  7. Thanks for the post Willis. Darcy Farrow – and I love that song. Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s version is the only one I know but that’ll do me.
    Nice to see some pics of the area. Must go visit one day…

  8. Meteor Crater is awesome but those Indians had some very modern thinking about dealing with the climate. And boy does it change over a year. A visit to the Wupatki National Monument is priceless. (North of Flagstaff.)

  9. “Travelling often reminds me how many places I know only through songs.”
    This Limey learnt most of his geography of the USA thru’ the agency of rock ‘n roll, primarily Mr. Chuck Berry

  10. How could I not read a post with the title of Darcy Farrow. Great song, very poignant, it brings tears to my eyes. Mind you reading your info on the new Crescent Dunes project also brings tears to my eyes. When will this madness stop. Over here in the Uk there is the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon power station. Dubbed the most expensive electricity in the world as it demands a subsidy over over 3 times the current cost of electricity for the next 35 years. As it will, if it is ever built, only generate electricity for 14 hours a day i don’t know whether that’s a blessing or a curse.

  11. I remember flying across California a few years ago and seeing one of the solar towers in operation. I’ve had to be 10 or 15 miles away from it flying at 30,000+ feet. It was so bright I could hardly look at it.
    Sorry you missed Bodie State Park, which is due north of Mono Lake. It is a very well preserved mining town. Also, if you get the chance, read Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It”. He spent a lot of time in California and this book is an entertaining account.
    I also recommend the Whoa Nellie Deli.

  12. We ate at the Bridgeport Inn yesterday and took note of the ‘back in to park’ signs, big ‘film’ for sale sign on the general store, the old courthouse
    The first overlook over Mono lake had an interesting cultural item in that the guard rail on the overlook is covered with bumper stickers of all kinds and political persuasions.
    We enjoyed the formations at Mono lake and reading about the history.
    In our case we headed west on the Tioga Pass which had zero snow in view and enjoyed the short .2 mile hike to the overlook at Olmstead Point for the ‘other view’ of 1/2 dome most people never see.
    Fun reading your blog as we, from Tahoe to the Pass were paralleling a bit.
    Sad that the eco approach like solar towers and windmills are so destructive to the environment. Not a lot of logic in favor of the environment in the environmental movement these days. If the bird and bat kills from these devices were happening anywhere near oil operations, the EPA fines would be mountainous.

  13. Thanks, Marlo. I’ll play anytime anywhere, long as the night lasts. Thanks for the youtube link, lovely version
    w.

  14. Solar Reserve is deeply entangled with Obama (and the Clintons). Recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars. What do we in Northern Nevada get? Higher bills and fewer birds.

  15. Willis, when you spoke about White Mountains, you shouldn’t miss Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest there. It is 38 miles, 55 minutes from Bishop in White Mountains. Or if you have good 4×4 you can go by Silver Canyon Road what is once in lifetime experience. It is ~1.4 mile drop on 3 miles road.
    White Mountains are really magical place and ancient bristlecone pine forest is even better. It is place like no other on earth. The oldest single tree is living there dated more than 5000 years old. You can actually walk in between those trees, look, touch. It is feeling like not other touching probably 5000 years old living thing. Or stumps which are around 11000 years old…

  16. A thermal power station, like the solar tower, with cooling towers evaporates ~1 gallon for every kWh produced. Only way to avoid it is air cooling which is less effective.
    Unfortunately most sun is available in desserts where water is less available.

  17. The facility produces “heat” only when the sun shines, but the molten salt process produces power for about ten hours after the sun does down. (Posted in the interest of accuracy. The thing is still a turkey.)

    • Thanks, Greg. The owner’s website on the power plant gives the capacity factor as 52% … and that’s what they are claiming. What they will actually get will almost assuredly be less than that. Color me unimpressed with the molten salt.
      Here’s the problem. Whatever energy goes into heating the molten salt has to come from the sun. As a result, the best that they can do is to REDUCE the daytime electricity production in order to spread it out more evenly around the clock … I’m sure you can see the difficulty with that.
      w.

  18. One of things I find interesting is that all the anti’s sound the same. No matter what you do there is someone against it. Generally anti’s have never produced anything, worked long hours or stood a back shift.
    I call fear mongering anti-nukes liars. What should I call Willis? If this does not sound very civil maybe, I do not think Willis is being civil just because he dresses up a diatribe as a travel long.
    Willis is just a plain old case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    Here are the facts that demonstrate how to be honest. This power plant required an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with a finding of no significant impact.
    In the US, we produce power with insignificant impact on the environment, we do safely. Having read EIS for nuke plants, coal plants, and renewable energy; the impact for all is insignificant. This is not to say there is no impact. The most expensive, the most dangerous, and the most damage to the environment, is the MW not available when needed. You have to look the benefit. There is a huge benefit for having a reliable grid.
    Let me give example. The anti-coal folks claim the closest coal plant ‘kill’ 9 people a year. Of course that is not true because the model was used incorrectly. Willis, if he was anti-coal would take a close up picture of the coal plant and claim it is ‘dirty’. Excuse me carbon is not dirt. If you drive Washington State Highway-14, you can only see Oregon’s only coal plant if you know where to look.
    Of course, the obvious question is since insignificant is insignificant, why not just build a coal or nuke steam plant? I can provide many examples of good running plants. I can not any good examples of good running solar steam plants which use natural gas to maintain the system at night. The amount of natural gas is not trivial on a per MWh basis.
    It is fine line to be for something because it works better, than to make up reason to be against something. I was against clowns running nuke plants but those days are past. If clowns run solar plants, I do not care.

    • You’re playing with your food in this commentary, assuming there’s a bottom line problem. First, answer this: Show, with scientific certainty, that CO2 poses a threat.

      • Denby
        What I am trying to do here is raise the level of the discussion past the fourth grade level.
        The reason we make electricity is because there is a huge environmental benefit. Electric light replaced gas lights made from gasification of coal or wood. A very ugly process but better than candles or whale oil. Regulations requires the power industry to show insignificant environmental impact. Why? Because we can.
        Fourth graders think that making electricity is bad because that is what their equally ignorant teachers teach them.
        I am not worried about CO2. If is a problem at all, it is an insignificant problem. One of my jobs was to mitigate hazards until they were insignificant. Willis talked about water use. All steam use water. The same amount of water that comes into a plant leaves cleaner and slightly warmer. It is a non issue except when liars make false claims.
        One of the most overlooked aspects of making power is the economic benefit to the community. When you import energy, money is leaving the state. Washington State exports large amounts of electricity to California. For the example the small town of Dayton, Washington has a large wind farm shipping the power to California. Dayton has a new library and lots of new jobs. California is paying the property taxes for Dayton.

    • Retired Kit P September 8, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Willis is just a plain old case of the pot calling the kettle black.
      Here are the facts that demonstrate how to be honest. This power plant required an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with a finding of no significant impact.

      Yes, and the Altamont wind power plant did the same. It had an EIS finding of no significant impact.
      Despite that, Altamont kills on average 2,700 birds per year, including 60 golden eagles. “No significant impact”, my okole.
      In other words, your claim that the EIS means something just shows you’re not following the story. If you call quoting their bogus EIS “demonstrating how to be honest”, go to the back of the class.
      Come back when you understand that an EIS means nothing. It is a claim about how wonderful your project is going to be, not a measure of how bad it actually is. At present, you’re just beclowning yourself.
      Next, exactly how am I “the pot calling the kettle black”? You haven’t found one single fact that I put forward to be incorrect, you haven’t quoted anything of mine that you disagree with, but you still want to insult me? You say:

      Willis, if he was anti-coal would take a close up picture of the coal plant and claim it is ‘dirty’.

      That is your sick fantasy, my friend, it has nothing to do with me. The fact it comes so readily to your lips suggests to me that you might do that kind of thing. Me, I don’t.
      Finally, you say:

      If clowns run solar plants, I do not care.

      When your power company jacks your electricity bill through the roof to pay for their solar fantasies, I doubt you’ll be so blasé …
      w.

      • Willis, how many birds have you killed on your trip? Maybe you should say home and go for walks. The risk is too great. [/hyperbole]
        I am sure that Willis is intelligent, so he should know better. There is a significant risk that driving a motor vehicle at highway speeds will result in killing animals and people.
        “go to the back of the class”
        How many classes Have you taken to evaluate environmental impact? For the record, I was always at the top of my class in science and engineering.
        “you haven’t found one single fact that I put forward to be incorrect, ”
        Willis missed the point entirely! Anti-s present a long list of facts without considering the ramifications.
        As far as the facts Willis presented,
        “dang, that’s one of them ugly solar towers ”
        That is an opinion. I think steam plants are beautiful. Same with transmission lines. Call it pragmatism but without the power infrastructure I would have been too tired to enjoy this evening beautiful sunset.
        “Altamont kills on average 2,700 birds per year”
        Is the impact significant or insignificant? What does the EIS say?
        From the link, ‘Given the magnitude of our mortality estimates, regulatory agencies and the public should decide whether to enforce laws intended to protect species killed by APWRA wind turbines, …’
        That is correct and I agree that the public who live near Altamont should provide input as to the significance of the impact. I have attended public meeting near where I lived in Washington State supporting wind farms but I would have opposed a wind farm where I lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each power project is specific to a location.
        It is still my opinion the Willis is a dishonest anti-solar blowhard. First he misrepresented the EIS by not evaluating the ‘significance’. Second he related an EIS for one location and type of project suggesting that the responsible people are dishonest. Everyone but Willis is dishonest. Third Willis is on vacation driving all over the place.
        “When your power company jacks your electricity bill through the roof to pay for their solar fantasies,…”
        Do you mean the hardworking people who work 24/7/365 to provide you power? Willis has not mentioned once the cost of driving different places, staying in hotels, and eating in Restaurants. How dishonest is that?
        You may want to point your finger at the likes Harry Reid, Obama, and Nancy Pelosi. If regulation require solar, it is not the fantasy of people at the utility. I recall one CEO explaining why solar was not good for customers. After losing the debate and being forced to build solar, their web site said glowing things without ever saying it was not working very well. That is called greenwashing.
        For the record, I worked I worked on Yucca Mountain. Spent a lot of time in the desert. Our two sons live and work in Las Vegas. Last winter we spent a lot of time boondocking in the desert and will this winter, Lord willing. We live in a motor home except when visiting friends and family. When it comes to yapping dogs, I am rooting for coyotes to make them part of the food chain.

      • Retired Kit P September 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm Edit

        Willis, how many birds have you killed on your trip?

        None … what’s your point?

        Maybe you should say home and go for walks. The risk is too great. [/hyperbole]
        I am sure that Willis is intelligent, so he should know better. There is a significant risk that driving a motor vehicle at highway speeds will result in killing animals and people.

        Seriously? That’s your response to a machine that fries birds alive, uses millions of litres of scarce water, provides outrageously expensive electricity, is propped up by taxpayer dollars, and will do so whenever it is in operation?
        You compare that to me driving a car?

        “go to the back of the class”

        How many classes Have you taken to evaluate environmental impact? For the record, I was always at the top of my class in science and engineering.

        “Go to the back of the class” is a metaphor. I’m sure you are familiar with them. Well, I’d expect you to be, at least. For the record, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t at the top of the class. I’m sure you were wonderful.

        “you haven’t found one single fact that I put forward to be incorrect, ”

        Willis missed the point entirely! Anti-s present a long list of facts without considering the ramifications.

        So your conclusion is that I shouldn’t present facts? Or is it that I should consider some unknown “ramification” of hideously expensive electricity? Like what? Like poor people not being able to heat their houses in the winter?
        Gotta say, my bravely anonymous internet popup, you sure provide more heat than light … but expensive electricity provides neither when people can’t afford it.

        As far as the facts Willis presented,

        “dang, that’s one of them ugly solar towers ”

        That is an opinion. I think steam plants are beautiful. Same with transmission lines. Call it pragmatism but without the power infrastructure I would have been too tired to enjoy this evening beautiful sunset.

        Yes, that is an opinion. I said you hadn’t found one fact to be incorrect. In response, you say my OPINION is incorrect … miss the point much?
        In any case, I consider a machine that fries birds alive in order to screw the power consumer and line the pockets of Obama’s pals to be ugly. Don’t like it? So sue me.

        “Altamont kills on average 2,700 birds per year”

        Is the impact significant or insignificant? What does the EIS say?
        From the link, ‘Given the magnitude of our mortality estimates, regulatory agencies and the public should decide whether to enforce laws intended to protect species killed by APWRA wind turbines, …’
        That is correct and I agree that the public who live near Altamont should provide input as to the significance of the impact. I have attended public meeting near where I lived in Washington State supporting wind farms but I would have opposed a wind farm where I lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each power project is specific to a location.

        So you think that the people and the agencies should “decide whether to enforce laws intended to protect species”? You do understand what a law is, I hope. One thing about a law is that the people in the neighborhood don’t get to say “Oh, don’t enforce laws against domestic violence around here.” Your claim seems to be that Exxon should pay when it kills golden eagles but the people around Altamont should decide if that law should be enforced … it’s a LAW, not a suggestion.

        It is still my opinion the Willis is a dishonest anti-solar blowhard. First he misrepresented the EIS by not evaluating the ‘significance’. Second he related an EIS for one location and type of project suggesting that the responsible people are dishonest. Everyone but Willis is dishonest.

        First, you brought up the EIS, not me. You claimed that it meant that everything was OK. I tried to point out to you that an EIS is a best-case hope, not a reality, by using a relevant example. I guess I failed.
        Second, I’m not “anti-solar”. I listed what I was anti, which was the following:

        In summary, the Crescent Dunes project burns birds alive, it only provides part-time power, it uses nearly a million gallons (3.4 million litres) of water per day, it’s only possible because of government collusion, it didn’t provide the jobs claimed by its owners, and it delivers hideously expensive power … but by gosh, it is renewable, so all is forgiven and what’s not to like?

        There is nothing in there that is anti-solar.
        Third, only a blowhard coward calls a man dishonest while hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

        Third Willis is on vacation driving all over the place.

        Yes, that’s a hanging offense on your planet I guess.

        “When your power company jacks your electricity bill through the roof to pay for their solar fantasies,…”

        Do you mean the hardworking people who work 24/7/365 to provide you power? Willis has not mentioned once the cost of driving different places, staying in hotels, and eating in Restaurants. How dishonest is that?

        What on earth does me eating in restaurants have to do with expensive power?

        You may want to point your finger at the likes Harry Reid, Obama, and Nancy Pelosi. If regulation require solar, it is not the fantasy of people at the utility.

        I do point the finger at those kinds of people, and I did so in this very post. Learn to read. Find me one place that I busted the utility for anything. If they raise their prices because of renewable minimums, that’s on the politicians, not on the utilities.

        I recall one CEO explaining why solar was not good for customers. After losing the debate and being forced to build solar, their web site said glowing things without ever saying it was not working very well. That is called greenwashing.

        Without a citation, for all I know you just made that up. In any case … what are you trying to say with this fantasy? That

        For the record, I worked I worked on Yucca Mountain. Spent a lot of time in the desert. Our two sons live and work in Las Vegas. Last winter we spent a lot of time boondocking in the desert and will this winter, Lord willing. We live in a motor home except when visiting friends and family. When it comes to yapping dogs, I am rooting for coyotes to make them part of the food chain.

        If any of that is true, I’m sure your mother must be proud. So what?
        w.

  19. Some behavioral tax policy experiments are more deadly than others. At the bird disposal dumpsters they need to erect a sign saying Your Tax Dollars at Work. How much does the Audubon Society get paid per bird carcass to look the other way?

    • My company at the time organized an environmental cleanup of an anti-aircraft site that has been turned into an animal preserve. The local chapter of the Audubon Society joined us. This was while some were being proposed for the area. I asked them about it. They pointed to the hills with dryland wheat fields on top saying over there, then in a sweeping gesture said not overt here.
      Just wondering if there is a specific reason to impugn the integrity of the Audubon Society? They are not on my list like say Greenpeace.

  20. The Walker River has a stretch which is one of the few places you can both fly fish for lunker brown trout and hunt chukar partridge in October.
    Careful, some of those yellow flowers in the desert photos are rabbit brush, not sagebrush.

  21. I always enjoyed that song but it really hit home when my wife and I started managing a ranch in N. Antelope valley that has a few miles of the West Walker running through it. I even started referring to my wife as “Darcy”. Her typical response is always “Huh?”
    Willis if you thought Sutter’s Mill was something and you’re headed to or from Death Valley you might want to consider a side trip up Cerro Gordo Peak just outside of Lone Pine, CA. The mine and ghost town are privately owned so you need to contact the owner to arrange for a visit but you wouldn’t be disappointed if you can get in. Truly amazing what those folks managed to do including building a mule driven tram to bring buckets of silver ore down the 9’000 ft. mountain to the valley below so it could be loaded on barges and transported across now dry Owens Lake.
    I also have to agree with brians356, those yellow flowering plants are rabbit brush and not sagebrush. People with bad allergies can have a real tough time with the stuff this time of year.

  22. Willis:
    I trust you ventured into the old Mizpah hotel last night? Open again, I hear, and back to its former boomtown glories.
    Been a few years since I last passed through T-pah. If memory serves, “pah” is Paiute for water, and gets tacked onto a lot ofplace names in central NV, for obvious reasons. A bit bleak for most tastes, but suits an old desert rat like me. And Arc Dome at sunset is a wonderful sight:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/Arc_Dome_Wilderness_at_Sunset_%28lossless_crop%29.jpg

  23. I’m confused, I thought I had lived in the Carson Valley for these last seven years, at least that what the signs says as you head south out of Carson City on 395. The Walker is quite a ways South, one branch runs through Topaz Lake then down near TRE into Smith Valley, and on down past Yerington where I presume it reaches a Walker River sink. So the Walker and Carson Valley don’t connect except in the song. However I still like the song especially John Denver’s version.

    • Mike, you are correct the West fork of the Walker River runs north out of Walker Canyon in California and into Antelope Valley where it then turns east and flows into Smith and Mason Valley’s. Once outside of Yearington it merges with the East fork of the Walker and becomes the Walker River. From the confluence of the 2 forks of the river it then continues flowing east onto the Paiute Reservation at Shurz, NV and into Weber reservoir. Some water then flows out of Weber and into Walker Lake one of the lakes on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Desert Terminal Lakes program and original home of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
      Maybe the song isn’t correct from a geographic stand point but… I highly doubt that is historically accurate as well 🙂

  24. If the project goes belly-up, the taxpayers are on the hook because of a half-billion dollar government loan guarantee from the Obama Administration. I swear, I do not understand this.

    Well Willis, actually, it appears that you do indeed understand this…

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the Obama Administration is once again rewarding its rich friends with sweetheart “green” deals that line their pockets while screwing the consumer,…

  25. From installment 1: I packed for the desert, dang it, not for cold nights … that’ll teach me.
    Appropriate packing for Death Valley at the moment, but you’d need your long johns in a couple of months. Three of us rode our motorcycles out there one November years ago, and camped at Furnace Creek. Suffice it to say I crawled into my sleeping bag fully dressed, with my boots still on. There was no gas in Furnace Creek in those days, so we managed to run out of gas the next day….
    If you have time, there is some very interesting stuff in the Panamints (west side of the park). If you go to the “beehives”, be sure to go inside one and sing of Darcy Farrow. The acoustics inside those things are memorable. Then, if your vehicle is high clearance–pavement ends at the beehive–drive on up to Mahogany Campground. It sits right on the edge of the dropoff into the canyon. I used to go up there at the end of the school year to be alone and recover from 9 months of socializing with eight-year-olds.

  26. “And when the birds and raptors fly into the beams of sunlight reflecting from the mirrors, their feathers catch fire, and they die a horrible death, plunging to the earth in flames.”
    And how do they taste?

  27. Willis, the Owens River runs southward. So, it never fed Mono Lake. What the DWP did was acquire water rights to the streams coming off the eastern Sierran and running down to Mono Lake. The water was collected and diverted south to the Owens Valley project, which supplies some of L.A.’s insatiable thirst. When you drive the Owens Valley today much of it is desert, but a little over 100 years ago that was productive pasture and crop land irrigated by water from the Owens River. The Owens was the focus of California’s most notorious water war. The grandfather of one of my friends in college spent time in prison for dynamiting the Los Angeles Aqueduct in defence of his water rights. I have to say that if Jerry proceeds along his dictatorial path with the tunnels, there may well be a new series of water wars.

  28. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    Nice story.
    Willis waxes technical with regard to the bird-burner.
    I’ll take people over birds any day, but these large solar projects only result in net harm. These huge projects harm people as well as the environment. We must stand opposed.

  29. Sorry to be late to arrive at this post, but I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the Great Basin. Let me know if you ever breeze through Frenchglen, Oregon. I usually have a beer in the fridge for guests. (Also glad to see other friends straightened you out on rabbit brush. 😉 )

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