Energy and Politics

If you’re anything like me, all those lovely pictures of a snowy Park City in that last post distracted you. Winter in the West can be rough, and it can definitely cause some chaos around town… especially a ski town hosting one of the largest independent film festivals and celebrating the first good dump in FOREVER. But, for those of you that made it past the slideshow and read those last few sentences, you know that Mark had an interview with Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. So lets pick up where Mark left off, on the issue of politics. Well, politics and energy.

The day I’m writing this is not only the day Mark had the interview, but it also happens to be the day of the State of the Union Address. If you watched it, you will have noticed that about 15 minutes were devoted to the discussion of the future of our nation’s energy. I guess this whole energy thing is a pretty big deal…  According to our President, it’s one of the 5 biggest issues facing the United States right now. But let’s put the ultimate future of America and the human race aside for a second and ask a more simple question: How political do you think the issue of energy is? Are there sides? Do your political opinions influence the type of energy production you support? In an earlier post Mark replied to the criticism that he was “green” or an environmentalist (re: liberal) because he rides his bike. After getting to know Mark, you would soon realize that he rides because he loves it and couldn’t care less about what political stereotype is attached to pedaling a bicycle.  It’s funny how political lines can get drawn anywhere, even the type of transportation you choose. (For the record, I know lots of liberals that drive big honkin’ trucks for one reason or another; I also know a staunch Republican that drives a hybrid.) So, are solar panels Democratic? Is natural gas Republican?

Mark has approached this movie with what I consider to be a devout stance of neutrality. But that brings me back to my point; his neutrality towards favoring one type of energy resource has by default required him to detach himself from the political spectrum. I for one am extremely interested to hear what Governor Mead (R) has to say about energy in Wyoming. Maybe Mark can chime in here and talk about his interview… or maybe you’ll just have to wait and see it in the film.

Marty

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Bonneville Power Administration

I’m back from Phoenix and packing for the next trip.  I have just found out that I’ll be headed to Portland, Oregon to talk with the senior vice president and executive vice president of Bonneville Power Administration.

The Columbia River is a large source of hydroelectricity generation for the Northwest

BPA is a public service organization that is in charge of getting power to the Pacific Northwest.  In other words, BPA makes sure that when you plug in your coffee maker or TV, it turns on and stays on.  That is huge!  Think about the logistics that goes into something that we have come to take for granted.  You have to decide how you’re going to make the energy.  You have to make the energy.  You have to make enough energy.  You can’t make too much energy.  You have to get the energy to the consumer.  You have to balance all of the different types of energy.  You have to make everyone happy, but at the same time, you have to provide them with enough energy to keep up with their demand.  Sometimes we want to save the planet without making any sacrifices.  Is this reasonable?  Whose job is it to make these decisions?  Imagine having to deal with all of these issues.  Doesn’t it sound like a huge job?  It sounds like one of the most complicated situations in our society today.  If this is such a huge job, then why haven’t we heard of organization like Bonneville Power Administration?  Is it a silent art and as long as they do their job well, they are invisible?  What exactly are they doing?  Why don’t more people know about what they do if it’s so important?  Have we taken the most elementary and necessary commodity other than food and water for granted?  Why?  That is my question.  Why do we as a society no longer think about this energy that seems to magically appear from the outlets in our house?  I will be continuing my journey to ask these questions in December by touring the Pacific Northwest and meeting with Bonneville Power Administration. Here is some background information about BPA.

http://www.bpa.gov/corporate/

http://www.bpa.gov/corporate/about_BPA/execs/embio.cfm

http://www.bpa.gov/corporate/about_BPA/execs/bsbio.cfm

On my way, I will be stopping at numerous energy production sites including hydroelectric sites, wind towers, a nuclear power station, and numerous natural gas power plants.  I will be home for about one and half weeks and then I’m setting off for a month.  This will be the longest that I’ve been home since July!  I’m already feeling restless…

I hope you’re keeping up on the blog because I will be posting much more often due to followers’ requests.  The blog has exceeded 5000 views!  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that people are becoming more and more interested in something that is so important.  Please feel free to request posts about subjects relating to what you want to hear.  Keep checking back for a story on my new method of transportation for the next leg of my journey!