In our opinion: Goldendale’s energy proposal needs checking
Additionally, the lower tank would sit on the cleared site of a former aluminum smelter – a fitting repurposing of land that has been abused by heavy industry for years.
But doubts about the project are widespread.
Among them, officials from the Yakama Nation say the project would desecrate cultural lands. “It’s the thing we protect,” Jerry Meninick, the country’s deputy cultural director, told Northwest Public Broadcasting last year. “And I know it doesn’t make sense to others, but to us it means everything.” Jeremy Takala, a citizen of Yakama, said, “Cultural resources are not a renewable thing for us. How much land – our land – still needs to be sacrificed?
Similar concerns about the physical degradation of land are shared by environmental groups.
Other issues have been raised by energy consultants, who say the profitability of the project is uncertain. Idaho-based Tony Jones analyzed the proposal, as well as similar plans in Oregon, as requested by news outlet Investigate West.
“For these projects to be profitable, they will need eight to 10 hours of the high prices that come with high demand,” Jones said. “But instead they get one to two hours.”
Investigate West said Jones estimates the Goldendale project would require an electricity price of $102 per megawatt hour to generate profits. In April, during an unseasonal cold snap, the price averaged $45. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council predicts that by 2026, electricity in the region will cost between $12 and $17 per megawatt hour.