You and I take electricity for granted. We flip on a light switch, turn the A/C and/or fans on and off. We cook and charge our cell phones and computers. But what is the source of the electricity?
Here in Nevada, USA, the Hoover Dam (second largest hydroelecticity generator) produces, on average, about four billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year for the states of Arizona, Nevada, and California.(1)
The power lines mostly parallel and occasionally cross Interstate 15 through the desert carrying power to far flung communities.
The Hoover Dam is not the only source of electicity.
California and Nevada are upgrading their transmission lines. Wind farms exist. Solar power plants are being built. What is the environmental cost to the desert? In many cases some of the older power plants are coal operated. In Nevada, about 1/5th of the electrictiy comes from coal power plants. True, the coal power plants supply jobs and economic opportunities but at what cost to health?
Is there controversary surrounding power? Yes, and I had no idea until I took this and other images of the transmission lines crossing Interstate 15 and began to do some research. This particular image can also be viewed here, and like many black and white images, please dim the lights to see the image better.
In 2006, Nevada's coal-fired power plants produced 9.6 million tons of CO2, 9,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 15,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 22.3% of the state's total CO2 emissions.
The Moapa Paiutes do have not travel far to stare at their perceived enemy: The coal-powered plant is blamed for polluting the southern Nevada reservation’s air and water and is visible from nearly every home.(3)
Deep in the desert, off route 15, lies a sea of power poles and buildings. As I have traveled through Nevada, I've always been curious about them. In plain sight and yet with no visible exit or entrance from the freeway. What kind of a power plant is it?
I don't have the answers, only many unanswered questions.
Thank you for viewing and leaving your comments.
(1) The completion of all of the generators makes China's Three Gorges dam the largest hydropower project in the world.
(2) Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
(3) Many native American Indians live next to power plants.