I am wondering what people think about House bill on the East Bay Energy Consortium Act?
The House Bill, H7592 was introduced by Representatives Gallison, Malik, Morrison, Edwards, and Handy on February 16, 2012.
I believe the companion Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senators Paiva-Weed, Ottiano, and De Palma.
Here's my take on this:
Basically the bill creates an entity that can issue bonds to develop renewable energy - which is then sold to Narragansett Electric via net metering laws.
They will issue bonds to build windmills (which only lasts 20 years) and strap the taxpayers with the bill over x years. They will then sell the energy to the taxpayers at rates higher than natural gas energy – thus increasing the taxpayer's energy bill.
This consortium can also employ people as it sees fit – which would come out of the net metering revenues. A premium would be added to everybody's electric bill so that they can employ these people. Who says the government can't create jobs?
And, of course the bill calls for providing pensions for these employees! "To pay pensions and establish pension plans, pension trusts, profit sharing plans andother incentive and benefit plans for any or all of its agents and employees". Garry Plunkett from Tiverton commented on his concerns relating to the establishment of retirement benefits as written in the draft. He touched on the current public opinions concerning pension packages, and that the provisions may not be welcomed by the community. Tom Moses responded to these concerns and explained that "such language involving retirement provisions is common to documents outlining powers of incorporation of any organization, and especially those independent quasi public agencies as EBEC." Moses advised that "any powers not considered and included at this stage, were powers that would be strictly unavailable to EBEC in the future."
Another point to consider is how much the consortium must pay the towns in lieu of property taxes. If the town is a member of the consortium and they can’t agree on a price then the actual value of the property tax is used. If the town is not a member of the consortium and they can’t agree on a price, the consortium gets to decide. But what is not addressed is who pays for the removal of the dead windmill in no more than 20 years, and who pays for the toxic leaks that may contaminate the surrounding soil if it goes bad, or who pays for other unforeseen expenses?
Anchor Rising comment: "Apparently the legislature thinks things are going too smoothly between East Bay residents and the Bristol County Water Authority, so they want to throw another regional body with revenue collecting powers into the works."
But the scariest of all..... "The purpose of the Board would be to explore and promote the use of alternative, renewable energy sources in the communities of the East Bay. The Board would also have certain powers to accomplish this purpose, including but not limited to the authority to issue bonds and THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN."
When the group expressed concern over the Eminent Doman clauses and Tom Moses reaffirmed the necessity of the Imminent Domain clause in relation to tax-exempt financing, Phil Hervey of Barrington suggested that as a remedy "EBEC employ Development Agreements with language that limits the use of the Imminent Domain clause in those projects."
While the concept may be good, this trend to burden the taxpayer both with the FINANCING, and the RISK on these types of ventures is getting out of control. Find someone in the private sector to take it on, invest in it, and leave the taxpayers out of it. If there are no takers... it's because it's another Deepwater Wind... This is an empire in the making.... at taxpayer expense! We need LESS Government/Quasi-Government entities, not MORE! Call your legislator NOW!
The minutes for the meetings of the East Bay Energy Consortium can be found on the state website.
You can also read the bill in its entirety online.