Is Boulder City solar plant really worth it?

To the editor:

Nevada Solar One, located just south of Boulder City, was advertised as a demonstration project to show the viability of using solar power to generate electricity cleanly and economically. The facts, however, are quite different.

Nevada Solar One is rated at a peak electrical output of 64 megawatts. Because it receives sunlight an average of only 12 hours per day, and inherently has other inefficiencies, the average capacity factor is approximately 25 percent, which means that its average power output is only 16 megawatts. Presently, NV Energy has approximately 3,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity. Therefore, the effect of Nevada Solar One is that it will allow the coal-fired plants to operate at 2,984 megawatts rather than 3,000 megawatts, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 0.5 percent. This is an insignificant reduction in greenhouse gases.

Nevada Solar One has an "additional heating" boiler that uses natural gas. The use of gas to heat water and run a steam turbine typically has an efficiency of 20 percent to 30 percent compared to a combined-cycle power plant, which has an efficiency of greater than 50 percent. Depending on how much power the plant generates from gas rather than solar, it could be producing more greenhouse gases than a standard gas-fired, combined-cycle plant.

At a cost of $240 million -- and assuming a life of 20 years with an average output of 16 megawatts -- we get a cost per kilowatt-hour of $0.086 per kilowatt (disregarding the cost of operations and maintenance), which is at least twice the cost of generating electricity with coal or nuclear power.

I have tried to get additional facts on the operation of Nevada Solar One, and no one will even return my phone call. Therefore, I would like to ask the following questions and hope that someone will be able to respond:

1. What is the actual capacity factor, and how much of the power is generated from solar and not from the gas-fired boiler?

2. How much water does it require to operate the plant, including dust control, mirror cleaning and water loss from the cooling towers?

3. How long will the mirrors last before requiring replacement because of damage from dust storms?

I am all for affordable, clean sources of electricity, but Nevada Solar One appears to meet neither of my criteria.




Randian view

To the editor:

Maybe the "tea parties" and protests are a precursor to a philosophical revolution in this country. If we are to get back to a free society, we must start with these mini-revolutions. Not with guns, but with our minds -- minds that understand that the philosophy of altruism is killing us and that the moral philosophy of objectivism is what will make us live as rational, productive humans.

Objectivism, as conceived and developed by Ayn Rand, is based upon the rights of the individual. In a rational world, the force of the government would not be used to confiscate private companies, our health care, children's education choices or our right to keep our own money.

It will take time, but with a resurgence of the idea that we are responsible for our own well-being and happiness, we can return to a government that protects us from those who would initiate the use of physical force against us and from those who would usurp our individual rights.

Sonya Healy



Divided we stand

To the editor:

In the Sept. 13 Viewpoints section, the Review-Journal smites its brow and presents a commentary by Patrick J. Buchanan bemoaning, "Is America coming apart?" This is a goal that, in subservience to its ultra right-wing Arkansas masters, the paper has desperately striven to achieve single-handedly.

The fox picks its teeth and deplores the carnage in the henhouse.

When was this house ever united? America started coming apart in Salem, Mass., when our glorious forefathers began burning and hanging "witches." With the ducking stool they invented waterboarding.

Their 20th century descendants found a way to deal with presidents and minority leaders -- assassinate them.

The citizens of this country are a nation of sheep who can be herded in any direction by nefarious politicians, journalists and a reasonably intelligent sheepdog. The proof of this terrible pudding lies in two words: Vietnam and Iraq.

And the Review-Journal picks its teeth.




No news

To the editor:

I did get a good laugh out of Glenn Cook's Sunday column, "Neal Smatresk is a very funny guy." I am afraid, however, that the joke is on Mr. Cook.

It was Christine Clark who approached UNLV President Smatresk about leaving her post as vice president of diversity and inclusion and returning to a teaching position. There were never any legal claims made by Ms. Clark against UNLV, much less some threat of "unfortunate, costly and protracted litigation." Ms. Clark desired to return to her first love, which is teaching and scholarship.

Whereas Mr. Cook might "smell a lawyer," I smell a slow news day.