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Solar power steps up

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Fossil fuel burning was defined as an ancient source of energy during the Focus the Nation event on Jan. 31. The event was presented by the Students for Environmental Awareness, Office of Student Activities and the Associated Students’ Government at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Focus the Nation is aimed to raise awareness on global warming issues and solutions for the problems at hand. Over 1,750 institutions across the nation participated in this environmental awareness event.

A major issue hitting close to home is the possible opening of a third coal plant in Pueblo. Presently, there are two coal plants located south of the CSU-Pueblo campus, and the third plant is currently under construction and is planned to open in the next year.

However, the energy generated from these plants is not utilized by the city of Pueblo, but by Fort Collins and the Denver area.

“I don’t think people are aware that these plants are not supplying to their city,” Leslie Glustrom, volunteer advocate for Clean Energy Action said.

In addition, Glustrom said the city of Pueblo endures a substantial amount of air pollution for other cities’ energy sources.

Glustrom said coal plants require a 50-year contract to begin operating. Due to this contract, she said a recent plant was ordered by the CEA to end construction in the Denver and Boulder area. Also, an air permit would have to be installed for the new plant, and according to Glustrom risking more polluted air is unrealistic.

“With the climate change we are enduring,” Glustrom said, “building another coal plant is just not a good idea right now.”

As a result, the order to stop plant construction has caused the matter to be sent to the state appellate court in Denver. The case is currently under dispute.

On the other hand, Glustrom and the CEA are achieving some success in turning around the future of energy resources.

Recently the CEA has conducted presentations and meetings with Xcel Energy in to advocate a new energy source. Coincidentally, Glustrom conducted a speech at Xcel in Denver early Thursday before she traveled to CSU-Pueblo for Focus the Nation.

“They get it now and Xcel is hoping to change to solar power in 2013,” Glustrom said.

Glustrom said she gives credit to Xcel for changing an old habit and being willing to commit to a new way of energy.

The use of solar power is ideal in a place like Pueblo because of the amount of sunlight which covers the area, Glustrom said.

“The sun comes up every day for the most part,” Glustrom said. “Thermal storage can easily become a 24-hour source of energy through solar power.”

Since there will be periods of weather which lack sunlight, Glustrom said she suggests using fossil fuel burning for those occasions only.

Also, Glustrom said she realizes that shutting down the third coal plant would hurt employment; however, she said coal plant workers should acquire solar power skills in order to be better prepared for the future of energy.

“Solar power plants are going to be great jobs for the future,” Glustrom said.

A solar power plant can operate in two different ways. First, the general form of this plant is reminiscent of a parabola made of mirrors which collects sunlight into a tube filled with water which will then boil and create energy.

The second and more affordable solar power plant is an Australian model which consists of an upright tube filled with water which collects sunlight from a tilted mirror which will reflect the light and aid the boiling of the water and then energy can generate. These types of solar set ups have already been put into action in both California and Las Vegas.

For more information on the Australian solar power plant, visit www.ausra.com.

Overall, Glustrom said she feels that other places are getting with program and she hopes to promote a more conservation friendly environment in Pueblo.