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Critics of large, utility-scale solar power plants like the one that recently landed a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee in southern Colorado say the feds need to better vet energy technology before putting so many taxpayer dollars on the line.
Backers of biofuel and biopower see the millions of lodgepole pine trees killed by the Rocky Mountain bark beetle epidemic as a source of carbon-neutral power. Their efforts to turn the devastation into usable energy may take off if Congress passes a bill floated by Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall late last week.
One of the least-publicized aspect of the mountain pine bark beetle epidemic, which has decimated nearly 2 million acres of trees in Colorado, is the threat it poses to the region's power grid. Whole mountainsides of dead and toppling trees throughout the state raise the specter of disaster on the scale of the great Northeast Blackout of 2003.