In response to Ms. Bass’s recent letter promoting wind energy (“Keep an open mind on wind energy,” March 23), I would like to make several observations.
We all maintain some level of consciousness about conservation of our beautiful natural resources. Although Ms. Bass may have facilitated the development of Broad Mountain Cooperative Municipal Power Agency, now called Broad Mountain Energy, without local statutorily required governmental agencies’ cooperation, she could not start any municipal power agency independently.
Based upon state laws, a municipal power agency is initiated between two or more “entities” via adoption of an ordinance that forms a cooperative agreement that establishes the bylaws and approves the inaugural board of directors. This currently proposed MPA is being formed under a 501c-type not-for-profit “business” where excess cash flow or profits, if any, can be distributed back into all municipal members’ budgets for their own discretionary or operational utilization.
The key term here is, “if any.” What guarantee does a member municipality have for getting any annual excess revenues back? None. After allowable expenses are paid by Broad Mountain Energy, only then will remaining money go back to municipalities. This unreliable source of supplemental revenues for expensive road improvements and or reducing taxes seems to be speculative, at best.
Several articles were written in local newspapers over the past year or two about this elusive power cooperative in tandem with a pending 22 turbine wind farm proposed for Packer Twp. zoning approval, also pending. In every news article, the same talking point is made that these are separate entities. Yet, interestingly, now Ms. Bass’s letter acknowledges that BME prefers renewable energy. They are initiating discussions with Liberty Power, the wind farm parent company, to purchase wind power from them.
Ms. Bass indicated that our area needs new sources for jobs and new tax revenues. She suggested Liberty Power will do that by hiring local qualified workers for windmill construction and ongoing maintenance. She did not say the planned construction phase will only employ tradesmen for about one year based upon Liberty Power’s information. Once operational, any ongoing maintenance should be somewhat minimal if quality work was performed, so ongoing paid maintenance staff will most likely be minimal.
I, as a concerned resident, have a number of questions that still demand answers. Who will actually profit under this non-profit entity? How were the bylaws developed and by whom? Who selected this board makeup and under what authority? Do board members receive salaries? Are the meetings and minutes public, as they should be? Are any board members related to landowners for the windmill project?
From my research to date, there has been a clear lack of transparency regarding this co-op attempt. I am keeping an open mind, open eyes and open ears in this mysterious process.
Gerard E. Grega