News, December 12th

BETTER WILDLIFE MAPPING PROPOSED FOR WESTERN U.S.

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Governors in 16 states today unveil a high-tech wildlife habitat mapping project they hope will encourage economic development across the West. Leaders of the Western Governors’ Association at their annual winter meeting in Las Vegas say they want to make it easier to chart paths across large landscapes where developers can expect the least regulatory resistance.

WESTERN SLOPE DRILLING COULD BE CUT BACK

ASPEN (AP) – Agriculture and conservation groups are proposing that land available for gas leasing in the so called “bread basket” of the Roaring Fork Valley be cut back.  The North Fork Alternative Plan would apply to over 60,000 acres of land and 137,000 acres of underground minerals around Paonia, Hotchkiss, Delta and several smaller communities in the valley south of Carbondale used for agriculture. Activist Jim Ramey says more than 150,000 acres of land in the North Fork Valley already have been leased for oil and gas development, and the proposed would not affect those leases.   The West Slope Oil and Gas Association says many drilling-related impacts like traffic, light, noise, or interference with views could be mitigated through conditions placed on permits.

XCEL ENERGY SOLAR PROGRAMS CALLED INTO QUESTION

DENVER (AP) – Supporters of rooftop-generated solar energy say an Xcel Energy proposal would devalue the amount of credit the company awards users for putting power on the grid.  Xcel has asked the Public Utilities Commission for permission to redefine the so-called net-metering credit, which is the price homeowners who have rooftop solar systems receive for sending kilowatt-hours onto the distribution system. The supporters demonstrated Tuesday outside the company’s headquarters.  The PUC on Tuesday approved Xcel’s plan to triple its large-scale solar-energy resources in the state. Xcel gives homeowner a credit of 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, while an Xcel study found that rooftop solar’s benefit to the overall system is worth only about 4 cents a kilowatt-hour.

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