Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More vindication on coal

Dear People: A quick note to everyone regarding two of the most difficult but perhaps most important decisions we have made since I have been on Council: we rejected the proposed coal plant in Meigs County, Ohio, and we also rejected the "Prairie State" plant in Illinois, early in 2008--which would have meant signing a 50-year contract for the plants.

You are likely aware that AMP's Meigs plant was canceled last fall because construction costs were ballooning; the communities who signed on, however, are left paying very expensive bills for the significant development costs that have already been incurred, for a plant that will never exist. Yellow Springs has been spared those costs.

While the Prairie State plant has not been canceled as of this time, the Chicago Tribune is now reporting that the construction costs of the Prairie State plant are going to be so high that the costs of the power from that plant will likely be higher than the costs of power on the open market. They also note that "Though the company and its partners promote the plant as a national model for environmentally-friendly 'clean coal' technology, Prairie State will be the largest source of carbon dioxide built in the United Sates in a quarter century."

The Council at Martinsville, Ohio, is now consulting with Ohio Citizens Action Network and professional environmental consultants from New York on the decision they made to buy into the Prairie State plant, and I myself have been in conversation with a council person from another AMP municipality who was concerned about the ramifications of their decision to invest in coal.

Yellow Springs Council consulted with OCAN and local and regional environmental experts, and our own consciences, before making our decision, which was a difficult one, and I believe that helped us to make what has turned out to be a prudent decision.

Frankly, I do not believe that AMP deliberately misled us about the decision, as the second article seems to imply, but I do think that politically "conservative" positions, often advocated by corporate interests and smart people with great technical skills, are, actually, routinely more costly and less practical, and not actually "conservative" in the truest sense of that term, especially in the long run, than "liberal" ones. That definitely seems to be true in this case.


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