citizens of the Cedar Valley address the proposal for a coal burning power plant
City Council meeting
May 7, 2007
4. James Ralston, 129 Woodlawn Road.
I need to remind all here of a corporate project – paid for by taxes – that resulted in a disastrous loss of taxpayers’ dollars – a horrendous mistake. We cannot afford to repeat it: neither do we need to repeat it.
Taxpayers lost millions because the city took advice from an engineering firm – Earth Tech – with a financial interest in making that publicly-funded project as costly as possible. In 1996, Story Construction was responsible for the construction of its own aeration basin for waste treatment. The cost of the project was about ten million dollars. After this ten-million-dollar expenditure, a second aeration basin was built by Fagen Construction at a cost of approximately twenty million dollars.
The result of these projects was a doubling – a costly, unnecessary doubling – of the treatment capacity of the plant. One basin was for industrial use, the other for residential use. However, and this is the essential fact, it was later found that this doubled capacity was not needed. But we paid for it – all of it – for no good reason.
One basin would have been completely sufficient for all. The plant, grossly overbuilt – again, twenty million dollars, spent for no reason.
When the second basin came on line, the original basin, still new, was shut down forever. Here is a case – a case that all citizens should be aware of – of city government’s taking the advice of an engineering firm with a financial interest in the project – here we should have seen a genuine conflict of interest. Earth Tech was paid on a percent commission. Earth Tech had an interest in inflating the project; but the city had an interest in spending no money unnecessarily. These interests, therefore, were in conflict. Unfortunately, the corporate interests prevailed. We should have seen the conflict of interest. The City of Waterloo must take the greatest care to avoid situations like these.
The proposed building of the LS Power Plant is a new threat, creating a conflict of interest – again, a case where private profit will be financed by public funds. This project will enrich out-of-state moneymen but will leave us here with hidden, continuing, ruinous costs.
LS Power seeks to exploit a temporary loophole in EPA regulations. By the time this power plant is ready, the revised EPA regulations will not even allow its operation. When reduced CO2 emissions become law, the plant will sit unused until upgrades are paid for. A bankrupt plant – that we cannot ever use- is a real possibility. Attractive in the short term – disastrous in the long. Take the advice of those who have vested financial interest and you repeat a costly mistake. That interest is in conflict with our own.