You can't please all the people all the time.
If you're an electric power producer, you can't please the Sierra Club any of the time.
For years, the Sierra Club has fought coal burning even though it's the most dependable and one of the least expensive ways to produce electricity. For years, the Sierra Club has preached the benefits of wind, solar and geothermal energy production, although a spokesperson has said it would settle for natural gas as a bridge to ''cleaner'' options in the future.
And so imagine the surprise of power producers, including the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, to read the words of Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, in USA Today.
"The only safe, smart and responsible way to address our nation's energy needs is to look beyond coal, oil and gas, and focus on clean, efficient energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal,'' he wrote.
Hydraulic fracking for natural gas has fallen out of favor with the Sierra Club and, with it, the natural gas industry in general. In a February post on the Sierra Club's blog, Brune wrote, "It's time to stop thinking of natural gas as a 'kinder, gentler' energy source as we phase out coal, we need to leapfrog over gas whenever possible in favor of truly clean energy."
Solar as a source of power has been proven to be not ready for the big time. Wind is not dependable and, thus, expensive because a backup power source is needed. Too, it has been beaten back repeatedly by local residents who fear the damage to migrant bird populations or who don't want wind turbines in their back yards. Geothermal production needs almost perfect geologic formations to be viable - and it's not known if the proper formations even exist in the BPU's service territory to build a geothermal plant.
The Jamestown BPU can neither buy nor produce all of the power Jamestown needs - but producing some and buying most is an equation that has worked for BPU ratepayers for decades. More hydropower isn't available, and it's unlikely Jamestown will conserve its way without needing to produce power, a solution the Sierra Club prefers.
The BPU's coal-fired boilers are nearly obsolete and will have to be shut down. For now, the BPU's $40 million gas turbine is filling the gap, and natural gas may be an option to replace the coal boilers for the future in Jamestown.
For a group that seems to have all the answers, here's a question for the Sierra Club. Given a choice, which do you prefer for Jamestown - coal or natural gas? It needs to be one or the other, so take your pick.