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Monday, May 16, 2011

Amping up on Prescott

The two big green water towers just north of blog headquarters, known as the Vernon Tanks, have a dinky playground right under them and all sorts of cell phone antennas mounted around the tanks up above. The sweethearts at AT&T have plans before the City of Portland to add quite a bit of new transmission devices to the extensive array already up there:

The upgrades will include two replacement antennas, two additional antennas, six RRH, three surge suppression boxes, one power fiber junction box, and one GPS Antenna mounted near an existing GPS antenna along with the equipment inventory being placed inside existing At&T equipment shelter.
Given how much zapping they're already getting from the equipment already mounted on the tanks, the neighbors don't seem likely to be able to do much stop the proposal -- if they're interested at all. But now that others in the area have recently stopped new towers from being installed on Fremont and Stanton Streets, the cell phone folks will likely want to load up their existing locations to the max.

Meanwhile, one wonders whether the neighbors are aware of the city's apparent plan to turn the tank into the equivalent of a hydroelectric dam. The city would sell power from a new turbine at the site to a local utility, presumably Pacific Power. Although the equipment is supposedly all going underground, the water bureau sure slipped that one through quietly.

Wonder where the money from the power sales will go. To lower your water bill? Ha! Ha! There's a belly laugh to start your week. And who gets the construction contract? A familiar name, perhaps?

Comments (20)

The pumped storage is a good idea though ... It will recover a little bit of the energy spent in charging up the tanks. It won't make any money, but will reduce the outgoing energy bill a bit. 205 MWhs isn't anything to sneeze at

That these things were built without that kind of feature is what's telling ... We were once so rich and wasteful that it didn't seem that we would ever need to economize on energy use, as PGE was busily flogging Gold Medal all-electric homes

Y'know that's a good question on what happens with profits.

Now I am really curious about all these URDs (which never get cancelled) and how much the tax revenues exceed the payments on bonds issued. That money is pure cream for CoP.

Or should I say pure gravy for bike riders and Homer.

BTW - "205 MWhs isn't anything to sneeze at"

Where did you see that? That seems kind of high. If I remember basic physics, the amount of energy to pump the water up there can't be less than the potential energy they get from the water falling back down. Unless man-child Leonard is going to sell us a neon perpetual motion machine.

Correct, Steve, but consider that there is either:
1)The tanks are below the basic height of the initial head from Bull Run or
2)We are paying for electricity to pump it up.

In the case of 1), it's free energy since the head is charging it up for which we don't pay, and if 2) at least we recover a portion of the costs to charge the tanks, assuming that the cost for installing the generator and transmission facilities do not eat up most of the savings on energy.

It's a balancing act, no doubt.

There's also an electrical substation there. That area is not for the electro-magnetically squeamish.

Regarding the playground:

Another negative aspect of the UGB, so little open space for the people but they can have a spot under these antennas and near this electrical substation.

Since I am at it, my thoughts about land:
Is the plan to sell the school properties, most likely good ground to transition into "affordable" land for developers, no clean up expenses and nice large parcels? Then "new playgrounds" moved to small bits and pieces of "contaminated" land/brownfields that we the public pay for the clean up expenses.

Is this what will be left, questionable open spaces?

How clean can these contaminated pieces get?
Where do they take the contaminated soil?

Running a micro-hydro turbine there where there's already water flow is actually a pretty neat idea; not to mention cheap, and unlike wind/solar it's pretty constant - if people are using water, it's going to generate electricity.

That's why many water reservoir dams often have one or two generation units, even if it's just for house power.

(Disclaimer: I do work for one of the utilities mentioned in the original post, however in customer services and therefore not in a position that involves negotiating for, purchasing, installing or maintaining generation.)

I'm not positive about this, but my understanding is that they don't pump into those towers, because the water pressure coming down into Bull Run is more than enough.

And even if they DO pump it up, it still makes sense to capture the energy when the water comes back down.

However... the cost. I saw it listed at $220,000 for this installation. Worth it??

In my neck of the woods, the local water tower has 6 levels of radio gear, with at least 40-60 sector antennas,and microwave links. The legs are black with cables. the local middle school has a huge cell/radio tower at the end of the playground the school district profits(?) from. The large city next to us put in a larger pipe from the watershed to install a turbine. The income goes to pay down the bond.

Eric H, can you supply us with a link that outlines the CBR and supporting material for this project?

"it's free energy since the head is charging it up for which we don't pay"

Not quite, when you turn on the faucet, you don't create a vaccum, just a lower pressure which would even be lower with a turbine impeding it. In addition, there are pumps at Bull Run running to keep up water pressure - I am almost certain the entire system is not gravity-feed.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad idea to at least investigate. I've just seen Randy's budget with things like green houses and each watt may cost us 20x what PPL charges. I still would like to see what the actual output of one water tower is.

The project is expected to generate 90,000 to 150,000 kilowatt hours annually, which will be sold to the grid through PacifiCorp. The agreement is still being negotiated, but Peter Nierengarten, an engineer for the Portland Water Bureau, projected the bureau will net between $5,000 to $7,000 annually from the project.....
This latest addition at the Vernon HydroPark will cost $220,000. Energy Trust and the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit will each contribute $35,000. Another $85,000 will come from federal stimulus money, with the remaining $65,000 paid for by ratepayers.

So PWB will net $5,000-$7,000 annually from the project yet we ratepayers will pay the remaining $65,000 and I imagine any overruns in cost. Looks like about 35 plus years to pay it off, and with interest goes further. If a bond is used again, how much will that cost? I don’t think that this is the time to add more debt. The whole picture doesn't pencil out as far as I am concerned. Why are we really doing this?

I suppose we will be told it is for the "green" agenda and for the children, however, it will take our scarce green dollars now for what? for more debt?
This PWB is simply adding more and more debt. The excessive unnecessary projects need to STOP.

Clinamen, I've never been one to evaluate an entire project cost and throw out all the subsidies. In this case there's $155,000 in subsidies that are really taxpayer dollars. And to disregard the debt cost is also wrong, something that PDC practices while most of their UR projects are accomplished by debt .

In this case if you figure in all the true cost including debt the payback is over 104 years. And that's not even accounting for maintenance costs. This is not something that most of us could live with. But being "Green" it's okay, right?

"150,000 kilowatt hours annually"

Not to bore you, but that works out to about 17kW per hour. Which means it will power about 6 electric dryers per hour.

Sounds like a great deal for $155K.

Another "stick a bird on it and call it art" instead we'll call it sustainable.

Sorry, I meant electric CLOTHES dryer. Which uses 4500 watts (= 4.5kW), so it'll run 4 clothes dryers.

My opinion remains the same.

One more thing, PGE's mid-peak (average) rate is about $0.075/kWH.

So this will generate $1.275/hour worth of billable electricity.

Even more convincing.

Thanks Lee,
I figured someone on here could come up with the real costs of all of this.

If the agenda was truly "green",... but I think not. . . can't believe much that comes out of the city as too much around here is hypocritical.

Lawrence: This is the first I've heard of the project. I'll have to research it a bit.

Is it cost effective? I don't know. Micro-hydro has been around for some time but I've never heard it applied to a domestic water supply.

Re: "Given how much zapping they're already getting from the equipment already mounted on the tanks"

Revisiting a recent discussion in this forum:

"A Council of Europe committee examined evidence that the technologies have 'potentially harmful' effects on humans, and concluded that immediate action was required to protect children."

And there is a suspicion that the decline of bees may be a result of our wireless communication system:

"The world's population of honeybees is dwindling, and for years scientists have been trying to discover the cause. Bee researcher Dr. Daniel Favre thinks he may have found the problem, and you, dear reader, might be part of it. The doctor believes that mobile phones may be a major factor in bee colony decline, leading to massive population issues within the species."

Gardiner Menefree,
This is it. . . these technologies are put out without "testing with integrity" in my opinion.
Then later we find out possible effects.
In my view, we need to slow down and be prudent. There have been too many directions that are questionable, such as genetically engineered foods, Europe would not accept them and in our country, we had no say. The list is long and all added up, I hate to say, will create crisis and unintended consequences, or if one is cynical, perhaps in some cases intended and/or known consequences, as those in charge won't or don't care. Many citizens are having to battle one thing after another, because they are concerned and do care.

I will add there are other people who simply do not care or want to even hear about it. Too bad that the elected officials that are supposed to take care of such matters aren't.

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