Wind power speeds the economy

To the editor:

Is there an elephant in the room?

andquot;?nobody is knocking on our door to spend $50 millionandquot; said Brian Cole at the Economic Development Council's meeting (April 7, Baker City Herald - Economic strategy: A 42-point plan) and he is right - they are knocking on our door to spend $500 million.

I commend the EDC on the six strategies selected for economic development in Baker County. But are the six strategies sufficient?

Present interconnection requests with Idaho Power for wind projects in Baker County total 263 megawatts (MW) and with development costs approaching $2 million a MW, there may be a $500 million investment in Baker County. There are projects proposed for Union and Wallowa Counties of 150 MW and 252 MW respectively. This is a total of 665 MW in the three counties for new investments of over a billion dollars. It seems like some big players have recognized the opportunity to provide clean renewable electricity with the resources we have in Baker County and Northeast Oregon.

What does this mean for Baker City and Baker County?Jobs - initially there will be an influx of construction workers into the area during the development and construction phase of these projects. When construction ends, operation and maintenance begins, with eight full-time family wage jobs per 100MW of installed capacity.

Idaho Power is proposing a new 500kv transmission line to run through Baker County and that investment, and the jobs created, is not included above.

And what about taxes? This question is too involved for this letter but the income from tax revenue will be substantial, more than enough to offset the lost timber revenues.

Where will the trained workers come from and what are the opportunities for our high schools, community colleges and universities to fill the labor gap?

When we consider the threat from global warming, the true cost of imported oil, and the demands a growing population places on existing energy resources, can we afford not to embrace the opportunities that renewable energy will provide?

The question I keep asking myself is How strategic is a strategic plan that does not recognize this opportunity?

Randy Joseph