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Where the Wind Blows 

Editor:

In regard to your article "Green versus Green" (Nov. 14), I am saddened our community is divided on this issue. It is not easy to decide between what is right and right. It is right to protect the traditions and cultures of Native tribes. It is right to protect wildlife and wilderness. It is right to warn of global climate catastrophe. Greta Thunberg is right that our house is on fire. She says: "I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take real action."

Many have listened to the scientists; we trust their data showing increased greenhouse gases are leading to catastrophic losses of wildlife, wilderness and humans. We have heard the scientists warn we must rapidly stop burning fossil fuels. But, how? We rely on fossil fuels for transportation and electricity every single day. Can we unite behind a solution? Who can be trusted to take action?

A decade ago, local energy experts began work on a plan for all of Humboldt County to stop burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity. I am very proud of our community for working toward this goal. "Key tasks included an assessment of resource and technology options ... economic analysis ... project development, financing and ownership alternatives ... regulatory and political issues. As a crucial part of this effort, the team made a concerted effort to gather input from a diverse group of county stakeholders and include their views... [in] the RePower Humboldt strategic plan."

The Humboldt Wind Energy Project is part of this plan. Now, a decade later, will diverse local stakeholders, tribes, scientists, engineers and environmentalists be able to work together to actually reach the goal and forgo fossil fuels? Please choose to take real action.

Amber Woodworth, Manila

Editor:

As much as I hesitate to quibble with Ellen Taylor, her references to the checkered financial dealings of Terra-Gen's corporate owners don't exactly prove what she seems to think (Mailbox, Nov. 14). True, the oil dealing, fracking, profit-obsessed extractors of wealth don't exactly appeal to our environmental conscience. Does that mean nothing worthwhile can proceed from such an impure source? If so, there goes most of civilization.

Her point should be larger. Corporate profit shapes everything. We're at the mercy of the capitalists. We all know already that it's a system designed to make money for the few at the expense of the rest, not to mention the very planet we live on. We've dangled on this rope for a long time, but the noose is getting tighter and tighter.

The environmental price for Terra-Gen's project may well be too high but the accounting that would definitively tell us so is agonizingly complicated as catastrophic climate change draws nearer. Some of the critics seem to take aim at all wind farms, the most powerful tool we have so far. I can't help but wish that all that anti-Terra-Gen energy could be harnessed to spin some big turbines.

If opponents of this project prevail, I hope they won't waste one moment celebrating the triumph of the status quo. We have to join forces with each other to reduce emissions in a way that is unprecedented. We need an entirely new conscious ethos about how much we consume. We must prioritize the ability of forests, wetlands and grasslands to sequester carbon. To accomplish these goals, we have to carve out exceptions from business as usual. We have to do it fast.

And still, we will need utility-scale clean energy. Who will build it? Where is that perfect site?

Martha Walden, Westhaven

Editor:

My first experience with finance was when my mom gave me extra allowance for cleaning up my room. Apply that economic theory to Terra-Gen wind developers and the county gets a more respectfully built energy generator.

Terra-Gen backers hold the key of investment capital to build the wind farm, while we, the ratepayers, have the long-term ability to guarantee them a return on that investment. Humboldt's policymakers can use that payback promise to make sure the company at least builds it with certain environmental goals — a bump in its allowance for keeping our shared "room" clean.

Through our community choice utility, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, us ratepayers can structure the power purchase agreement with Terra-Gen to award Terra-Gen for meeting and staying with certain goals, like "no raptor deaths in x days."

Yes, it would mean paying extra for what Terra-Gen should be doing right in the first place, but a power purchase agreement can make incentives something the company wants to do, rather than just another "chore." Simply imposing requirements doesn't have the staying power because, if violated, then the county has expensive litigation as the only alternative — a costlier alternative than higher rates.

Thanks, mom.

J.A. Savage, Trinidad

Editor:

I support the Terra-Gen Wind Energy Project proposed for Bear River and Monument ridges. As a member of the RCEA Community Advisory Committee, I understand the projected energy needs of our area. The board has committed to purchasing 100-percent renewable energy by 2025. This is an ambitious goal that commits us to doing our part to fight climate change.

As a life-long environmentalist and renewable energy advocate who has worked in the renewable energy field since 1979, I can confidently say that solar energy alone will not meet our current and future energy needs.

If one solar energy system per day (every day!) is installed over the next 30 years, the sum of this effort will yield 50 megawatts (mW) of energy. Humboldt currently consumes approximately 180 mW. Even under the most optimistic scenario, solar will produce only a fraction of the clean energy we require. We are, however, the Saudi Arabia of wind!

Terra-Gen offers 155 mW of energy now. While some of the power may be sold out of the area, virtually all of the power generated will be consumed in Humboldt — that is the physics of electricity. This power will also be available once PG&E upgrades to "island" our area in an emergency.

I am sympathetic to the concerns of the Wiyot Tribe regarding the impacts to their cultural heritage. We are all proud of the recent effort by the city of Eureka to return Tuluwat island to the tribe. While we celebrate that great victory, please be aware that the island will be submerged beneath the Pacific within one lifetime. This is only a tiny part of the crisis we face today. I urge my indigenous neighbors to leave a greater legacy — a contribution to alleviating the global climate crisis and ensuring a resilient future for our children.

Larry Goldberg, Trinidad

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