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Staff column: A little demonstation couldn't hurt

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Sunday was an unusual day in Price. That was the day no one within the city limits had any power for about four hours in the morning; that is unless they had their own way to generate electricity.

It was odd driving through town; everything I could see was closed. Most businesses need at least light to operate and even if they have big windows they need their computers to conduct purchases. That morning you couldn't even buy a soda or a candy bar - unless you went out to the hospital.

While we all knew it was coming because the city had warned us, it was certainly an odd eye opener. Maybe it is something that all cities should be exposed to about once a year, to keep people grounded and to remind them how important electricity is to our modern society.

Since I live in Carbonville, we didn't have an outage, although I have experienced a few of them in the 11 years I have lived there. Those were totally unplanned, however.

I remember a long outage, about three years ago on a winter's afternoon that stretched into the evening. My wife and I came home from work and the house was cold; there was no television, Internet or microwave to blast our dinner warm.

We spent the evening in the living room in front of a cozy fire, eating cheese, apples and cooking some hotdogs over the blaze. We had good conversation and talked about our week. We actually were rather sad when the kitchen light blinked on and we heard the furnace click. It had been a good time.

The only bad side to the whole thing was that I had to feed my outside animals (dogs, goats, pigs and cats) in the dark. But it did give me a chance to try out a new high tech head lamp that I had purchased.

Of course if the power had been off for days or weeks, as we have seen in some disaster areas, the one evening good time we had would have been forgotten quickly. Chopping wood to keep warm on a daily basis is not my idea of fun and recreation.

Sundays power outage showed us all how dependent we are on the system that supplies us our energy. This brings to mind the point of how some people want us to change how we generate our power.

I have no problem with wanting to move to more renewable types of energy at all. Wind, solar and tidal power can all be valuable additions to our power needs. But let's not be fooled that in a period of five years we can go from old standbys like gas and coal, and expect things to remain the same. Some would like to see us do that, but without a backup power source for many of those newer technologies, our supply could be intermittent at best.

In Sevier county there is a battle going on about building another coal fired plant in the state. Many people are writing to the newspaper there complaining that the plant would dirty the air and lower their quality of life.

I look around Carbon and Emery counties where we have been generating power for years and I don't see that. To be sure we are not in a valley prone to inversions in the winter such as they are, but all but one of our plants are over 20 years old plus and we have much cleaner air than many places that have no coal power generation at all. New technology has been added to these plants over the years, but any newly constructed plant would be even cleaner.

The environmentalists have been hard at work convincing everyone we can just make a change overnight without damage to our lifestyles or economy. However, it just won't work.

I know many in Carbon county feel neglected by the Wasatch Front, just as those in Craig and Grand Junction, Colo. feel put aside by the Front Range. Some feel we are just here to supply their power and be a place they want to come when they "want to get away from it all." Little do many of them realize they are getting away from what our coal miners and power plant crews are giving them.

A day without power for the Wasatch Front wouldn't be a bad thing; especially if it was tied to a message concerning trying to jump from one reliable source of power to those not as developed as they should be for that dependence.

It's too bad such a demonstration couldn't be arranged, because it would certainly open some eyes to the real facts of life.




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