Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Coal Consequences

Anne Stanton - June 8th, 2009
Coal Consequences:
Will electric bills in rural areas double?

By Anne Stanton 6/8/09

A proposed coal-fired power plant in Rogers City would at least double the electric bill of 33,000 co-op members living in rural Northwest Michigan, and that’s without any new regulations or taxes, asserted an energy activist opposed to its construction.
Tom Karas will introduce a resolution at Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s annual membership meeting this Wednesday that asks co-op leadership to deliver an estimate of how much the proposed Rogers City plant will cost and its impact on customer bills.
Karas, director of Michigan Energy Alternatives, believes the plant will cost nearly triple what the company has been saying publicly. He adds that building the plant now makes no sense, given the state’s drop in demand for electricity predicted over the next 10 years.
He hopes that once co-op member-owners learn the real cost of this proposed plant, they will urge its leadership to reconsider construction. The power plant would be operated by Wolverine Power Cooperative, which provides electricity to six co-ops, including Cherryland Electric Cooperative.

Tony Anderson, general manager of Cherryland Electric Cooperative, countered that Karas’ estimate is “speculation.” (The estimate was prepared by Tom Sanzillo, former deputy comptroller of New York state at Karas’ request.)
Anderson, however, wasn’t ready to say how much the plant would increase customers’ bills.
“We are trying to get an air permit from the state DEQ. We are trying to keep our costs to a minimum. It makes no sense to do an in-depth analysis if we have no air permit. As we told [Karas] repeatedly, if we get the air permit, we’ll do an analysis.”
Wolverine Electric Cooperative has already billed co-op members $63 million for the plant’s future development. Of that, it’s spent $18 million.
“A cooperative is supposed to be for the members, but we have a situation in which they’re being kept in the dark about the potential costs,” Karas said. “To say that there is no estimate available after three years and $18 million, it seems to me, it’s no way to be running a business.”

Wolverine is pursuing the coal plant because it owns no base-load generation, and its principal contract for base-load power will end at year-end in 2011, e-mailed Nancy Tanner, Wolverine’s director of communications and member relations.
“We are developing the plant to ensure our members have a reliable source of electricity at a competitive price, the very reason electric cooperatives were formed decades ago,” she wrote in her email.
Anderson said Wolverine is pursuing the coal-fired power plant in order to provide its members with the most affordable source of energy.
Karas said that if Wolverine needs to find more electricity, it could easily buy electricity from Consumer’s Energy and DTE Energy. Both companies predict excess capacity due to a downturn in demand of five-to-six percent over the next 10 years, according to the companies’ most recent filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Additionally, Michigan is striving to become a leader in alternative sources of energy and is requiring companies to ramp up their source of alternative energy. It’s now delaying permits of traditional coal-fired power plants, one of the biggest sources of global warming.

Karas disputes that coal is the cheapest form of generating electricity and cites a 2008 report prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that says it costs more than four other alternatives, including wind, geo-thermal, natural gas and some concentrated solar.
That comparison doesn’t even include carbon capture or sequestration efforts, which make coal plants financially prohibitive, Karas said.
“Cherryland’s leadership just has to have a will to look harder for alternatives,” he said.
Karas said he calculated that the plant would actually cost $3.15 billion, using the figures that Wolverine provided to the state in a September 2007 permit application. Company officials have previously used a figure of $1.2 billion.
With the state suffering from record high unemployment and the bankruptcy of General Motors, Wolverine should pull the plug on the project—as 99 other companies have done across the country in the past few years, Karas said.
Anderson pointed out that in contrast to declining electrical demand statewide, Cherryland Electric saw a 1.5 percent increase in kilowatt hours used last year. That’s due to the fact that Cherryland services rural areas.
Anderson said that buying on the open market is an option, but it could potentially cost more.
Would it be wiser to wait to see how the economy shakes out before pursuing a new coal-fired power plant?
“That’s a decision we’ll make after the DEQ responds to our application for the air permit,” Anderson said. “We’ll do the financial analysis and we’ll make the best decision. Right now, we need options. We need affordable electricity in the future. We’re looking for options.”

Time to “talk dirty”

• Co-op Conversations.org is hosting Coal Night at the State Theatre on Monday, “Time to Talk Dirty,” on June 8, at 6 p.m. The evening will host a Robert Redford documentary, “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars.” Tom Sanzillo will also be on hand to talk about the “true cost” of coal plants.
• The public is invited to come to a question and answer forum with energy experts at the Hagerty Center, 715 E. Front Street, TC, at 3 p.m., on Monday.
• On June 10, members of Cherryland Electric Co-op members will meet at Wuerfel Ballpark at 4 p.m. Under the agenda item of new business, activist Tom Karas will propose a resolution that asks co-op leaders to reveal the impact of the proposed plant on electric bills.

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