taking power over power

By Jim Stanford on April 11, 2012

Comments: 12 Comments

Transmission lines from a coal-fired power plant in southern Wyoming. Lower Valley faces tough decisions in the years ahead regarding what type of power it purchases and how it should distribute higher costs to members.

Last summer, readers reacted angrily when Lower Valley Energy decided to hike electricity rates in winter, rather than charge more to the heaviest consumers of power. The cooperative later backed down from the plan, but at least one commenter asked to be informed when board members are up for re-election.

Here’s your heads-up. Lower Valley has two seats open this spring, including the District 4 seat held by part-time Wilson resident Ted Ladd. The other seat is District 3, which includes Hoback Junction, Alpine, Little Horsethief Canyon and points south. Nancy Winters of Star Valley is the incumbent.

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Lower Valley lowers gas rate by 13 percent

By Jim Stanford on February 14, 2012

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Gas is drilled 90 miles away.

Last week, amid constant reports about Gov. Matt Mead and Wyoming lawmakers having to cut the state budget because of the low price of natural gas, utility bills arrived from Lower Valley Energy. While using about the same amount of energy as last winter, I seemed to be paying slightly more for gas, which struck me as a disconnect.

Well, Lower Valley has caught up to the market changes. The cooperative has reduced its rate for natural gas by 12.9 percent, to $1.13 per therm, effective Feb. 1. LVE informs of the change in a letter residents should be receiving this week, spokesman Brian Tanabe said.

So, after a late cold spell pushed nighttime temperatures below -10 last week and sent heating bills rising, residents will get some relief.

The new rate still doesn’t match the nearly 70 percent drop in gas prices over the last four years, but pricing is complex, Lower Valley has to lock in advance supply contracts, and someone (not LVE, as a member-owned cooperative) has to make a gazillion dollars at our expense.

(Photo by David Stubbs)

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idle-free campaign taking root

By Jim Stanford on September 28, 2011

Comments: 14 Comments

Peter Neal, Willie's brother, installs a sign on the Town Square.

One of the changes Willie Neal envisioned finally is going into effect.

Last week, Neal’s family and supporters put up the first few of 300 idle-free signs that will be installed around town in coming months.

The signs discourage motorists from leaving their engines running while parked, as per town resolution 10-19. The notices are part of a larger educational campaign that seeks to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions and improve air quality by reducing unnecessary idling.

The Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund, a nonprofit set up in memory of the late Nordic skiing standout and activist, raised $7,500 to pay for the signs and associated materials. The fund has been working with the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition and Town of Jackson.

“The end goal is changing the culture in which we live,” said Neal’s mother, Mary, who has worked tirelessly on the campaign.

The signs will be erected on public property. Business owners who wish to have them installed for free on their property can contact info@ytcleanenergy.org.

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film discussion ought to be a gas

By Jim Stanford on August 8, 2011

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Members of the Jackson Hole Kayak Club display their opposition to the drilling proposal for the Hoback headwaters. American Rivers included the Hoback this spring on its list of most endangered waterways.

Gasland, the incendiary documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox, will screen at Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Thursday. Citizens for the Wyoming Range is sponsoring the free showing.

Afterward, a panel discussion will include two people featured in the film: Wes Wilson, a retired EPA environmental engineer, and John Fenton, a Pavillion, Wyo., rancher who has been affected by drilling. Also participating are retired BLM resource specialist Tom Curry and state Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson.

Given the strong opinions the Oscar-nominated film has generated and the impact of natural gas on Wyoming’s economy, the discussion ought to be lively. Whether industry reps turn out to counter their critics remains to be seen.

Then again, a Wyoming coal executive threw a hissy-fit at the recent installation of a sculpture by a British artist at the University of Wyoming. The work was designed to get people to think about the connection between fossil fuel and beetle kills spurred by a warming climate. Rather than engage the artist or start a dialogue, Big Coal whined and threatened to withhold funding from UW.

The screening comes as the Bridger-Teton National Forest is considering a proposal by Plains Exploration and Production to drill up to 136 wells in the headwaters of the Hoback River near Bondurant. The company plans to use the controversial drilling technique fracking, which can contaminate groundwater.

To view the trailer for the film, click here.

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last day for Hoback drilling comments

By David Stubbs on March 11, 2011

Comments: 17 Comments

Drilling rigs on the New Fork River near Pinedale.

Drilling rig on the New Fork River near Pinedale. Is the Hoback next?

Today is the day to speak up to preserve our future air and water quality.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest will accept comments until 5 p.m. on a proposal for natural gas drilling in Noble Basin, in the headwaters of the Hoback River near Bondurant.

Already three times this month — March 1, 2 and 5, according to AP reports — ozone pollution from the nearby Jonah and Pinedale Anticline gas fields was more poisonous than standing above the freeway in Los Angeles on that city’s worst smog day of the year.

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