I apologize for my absence here and offer two lame excuses:
- I’ve been running around all over the place, mostly while sick, doing things I think you will like.
- There is so much to tell that I get overwhelmed.
But after today’s events in Denton, I feel compelled to make a chronicle. So what follows is information with a few rumors gathered from Facebook, the city website, emails and phone calls and is peppered with opinion.
For background: Early in October, I sent out an SOS because we learned that Denton Municipal Electric wants to build two natural gas power plants in the city. The next day I highlighted the intense greenwashing applied to the plan. Someone said the city spent $24,000 on that greenwashing
Today (or maybe it was last night) we saw on the City Council Agenda an item to purchase 166.79 acres out by the airport. And the council wanted to give the city manager authority to spend $6.5 million dollars of taxpayer money on this acreage.
Do the math: At that price, the 166 acres would be roughly $40k per acre. I’m pretty sure there is no land in Denton worth that much. The land was recently valued at $5,000 per acre according to some research by a resident, who said the owner is John W. Porter who happens to, conveniently, be in the oil and gas business. It was also said that he is one of the 1% in Denton who owns minerals.
Speaking of doing the math: Denton is 78% renewable energy according to the EPA.
— Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe (@phwolfeDRC) October 26, 2015
Needless to say, Denton burned the Internets down today. And how sad that residents have to spend so much intense time and energy on these things. No one in Denton wants this crazy land deal except, perhaps, Mr. Porter and whomever else profits. No one in Denton wants two natural gas power plants. Natural gas power plants are terrible investments.
…a recent report from the operator of the Texas grid – the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – says that between 2007 and 2013, new natural gas-fired power plants would have lost money every year except 2008 and 2011… When the major financial annalists are saying that large power plants aren’t going to be as profitable as smaller renewable energy developments, why would Austin chose to stick with the technology of the past? Source
The Associated Press reports that investors have lost $8 of every $10 invested in fracking shale. Investing in fossil fuel is foolish. See this presentation from Smitty at Public Citizen. Here are slides 2, 3 and 4. Postponement: Then suddenly this evening we learn the council meeting has been canceled and moved to Friday at 2:30 in the afternoon
when no one can attend when the work session starts. But these two agenda items were taken off the agenda to be taken up again sometime in the future, perhaps on November 10th. If any of the above is incorrect, I hope someone at the city will set me straight with the correct information. Serving as a city councilman in Denton is an unpaid position where you make complicated decisions that are bound to make someone mad. But there are all kinds of perks and advantages for those who have businesses and investments such as land development. I want to believe that there are good guys on the council. (We know the two women council members are “good guys.”) But this deal looks and smells fishy. Aren’t there governmental agencies that investigate this type of thing? I tweeted to Kevin Roden today but received no reply.
I called Mayor Watts asking for a conversation but received no reply.
What I want is some assurance that the residents will be given some time. There are consultants who can help Denton with more energy options but we need some time and some expectation that an honest look will be given to other options.