One of my cherished memories is camping with my husband and son in Yosemite. The beauty and serenity of the park are breathtaking.
So, the news that it is at the center of one of the largest wildfires in California history is devastating. At this point, it looks like our heroic firefighters are finally making progress at containing it:
Officials say fire crews made progress overnight against a large wildfire threatening San Francisco’s water supply, several towns near Yosemite National Park and historic giant sequoias.
Stanislaus National Forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said containment of the Rim Fire was at 15 percent on Monday morning, up from 7 percent the previous night.
The fire did continue to grow, however, and is now 234 square miles in size.
In fact, the Rim Fire is burning close to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, San Fransisco’s main source of water:
Despite the fire’s proximity, San Francisco officials said they were cautiously optimistic state and federal efforts to safeguard the reservoir would help stave off a possible closure of the facility, which provides drinking water to 2.6 million customers in San Francisco and 28 suburban areas, nearly 200 miles to the west. About 200 firefighters were on the ground Sunday making fire breaks near the reservoir, officials said, while California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a state of emergency for San Francisco that freed up more state resources to deal with the water threat and other issues.
However, the green energy focus of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which shut down two Hetch Hetchy hydropower plants and the transmission lines that power its municipal buildings, is most concerning. They are unhappy with the fact the back-up supply power used to respond during the shut-down isn’t “green” enough.
And their plans to make back-up power more alternative-energy focused for future emergencies can place state power supplies in jeopardy.
The utility commission assured residents over the weekend that it doesn’t anticipate service interruptions because it can purchase power on the open market—though so far at a $600,000 premium. The bigger disaster, according to the utility, is that it “has been unable to generate and transmit clean, greenhouse gas-free hydroelectric power” and must rely on natural gas-fired plants. This contravenes the utility’s 100% renewable-energy goal….
…To hit the renewable mandate, utilities are building long transmission lines to deliver power from distant solar and wind projects to population centers. Most large-scale solar plants in California are being built in dry, sunny desert and valley regions. Wind farms are concentrated in the mountains. Both are fire-prone.
There are goals, and then there are realities.
Wildfires are to California are what hurricanes are to Louisiana. They will happen, and emergency planning should not rely on “green” theories pleasing to eco-activists.DONATE
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