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Spared From Another Boondoggle?

Does the Barringon Town Council's Monday vote against supporting legislation that would turn the East Bay Energy Consortium into a subsidiary of RIEDC seem prescient?

The Barrington Town Council voted on Monday against supporting legislation that would turn the volunteer-run East Bay Energy Consortium into a division of the RI Economic Development Corporation. Town Council Vice President Jeff Brenner said: “It just doesn’t smell right.”

Perhaps Brenner and the three councilors who voted with him had some foresight that turning EBEC into a state agency could create another “boondoggle” in Rhode Island. That’s what a story posted today on GoLocalProv.com is asking as well. 

Barrington Town Council President June Speakman, who also voted against supporting the legislation Monday night, said: “This has been a homegrown, grassroots movement that has done a tremendous amount of work. This is a vibrant, local group that seems to be transforming into something else."

Speakman said also that the energy consortium may have taken on a project that is too big for the nine communities to handle as volunteers. EBEC, thus, may be transforming into an organization that may be undermining the whole purpose of the nine communities collaborating together on a good concept.

The EBEC legislation was turned into a study commission in both the Senate and House Tuesday night, with a report due back in January, said Barrington Sen. David Bates in an email to Patch early this morning. Does that spare everyone from a future boondoggle?

Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey doesn’t see it that way. He is an officer in the volunteer group from the nine East Bay cities and towns that have been working hard to make a wind energy project a reality. He sees the loss to Barrington of $200,000 a year in profits made from the wind energy project.

“Give us a chance,” Hervey said. “Just give us a chance.”

marina peterson June 10, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Paive-Weed, DiPalma, for sure. McCaffrey, Walaska and Ruggiero voted for it on the 30th. I spoke with Drew Dzykewicz today. He was in on the original formation, etc. It appears that the falling out with Jerry Felilce came when he refused to embellish on the feasibility figures to finance companies. Also talked to Bill Ferguson, Executive Director. The Energy Council of RI Numbers don't work.. This may just be pushed right through. Moses will not give up and there are certain politicians who only care about creating a monument to themselves for posterity's sake. Still confused where funding will come from on the new improved version of the bill. If it passes out of Senate committee and links up with house, it may just go through, and Governor Chafee probably will not veto it because it doesn't have eminent domain or EDC.... No matter who I talk to... the numbers do NOT work! Period!!!! You will note that the net metering bill was passed last year to set the stage for this.
marina peterson June 11, 2012 at 03:18 AM
This project will be subsidized by above market energy costs for all in RI if the project is successful. It is this subsidy from the rest of the rate payers in the state that enables the 9 communities ( and the developer, and the lawyers and the financial institutions) to profit from the deal. EBEC sells the power for about 13 cents that National Grid can buy for less than 7 cents. Ratepayers pay the difference. It is just a transfer of wealth. Ratepayers in communities such as Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, etc. who have no favorable wind sites will not be able to benefit from such an arrangement. But they will have to subsidize these projects through increased electric rates. If you don't agree with this... contact your State Senators! Here's the link http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Email/SenEmailListDistrict.asp
Gary Morse June 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Phil Hervey's actions need an investigation by the Town Council. In October of 2011, The EBEC Board took a vote to allow just two members of the EBEC Board, the Chairwoman, and the Treasurer (Mr Hervey) to approve all spending. This was not just for "not to exceed" amounts, but for any amount of money. Following that vote, very large sums began to go out the door for lawyers and lobbyists along with an unusual $7000 payment for "compost". The town councils never approved such sweeping powers. Alene Violet just wrote an excellent editorial on why the EBEC was a taxpayer powder keg about that almost went off. http://www.valleybreeze.com/2012/06/19/north-providence/past-mistakes-still-haunt-us The RI Senate had approved this project, but the House didn't. Taxpayers and electricity users dodged a bullet. Taxpayers now need an explanation of how this project morphed into what might have been another EDC boondoggle.
Bristol County Anonymous June 21, 2012 at 02:07 PM
EBEC needs to be dissolved. And, yes an investigation is needed. EBEC’s strategy of avoiding transparency by not having the Board approve invoices at public meetings is improper and shameful. It seems that EBEC did not want the public to see those big lawyer / lobbyist fees. Instead, EBEC's strategy was to only show the public all that unsupported selective propaganda baloney.
Jack Baillargeron June 21, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I believe there to be 21 quasi-government boondoggles in this State that need to be investigated and forensically audited, for everything they have done for at the minimum last 20 years. This is a problem nation wide. We are a small State and it would probably be amazing eye opener to the fraud, waste abuse, inefficiency, backroom deals with politicians and lobbyist. I suspect it would also, if used to gauge the corruption and waste nation wide it would come in some where in the 100’s of Billions of dollars statistically. This State has always been, at least in my lifetime a perfect example of Big Government gone wild, from Local to the State. Our property taxes and dismal Education and social programs have never been efficient or successful to a reasonable percentage. How we can have so many of the highest paid State workers, with some of the best benefit packages is despicable. For State population less than 1 million that can only work with driving the taxpayers and businesses into bankruptcy. Won’t even go into how this State has driven Business from ever coming or staying here. Greece has proven that this State needs to diversify its business portfolio from so much of the tourist industry to real industry with high paying jobs, or the State will be as broke as Greece is today from a majority industry of tourism and over loaded government employees and benefits to the people. Individual self responsibility is the key, with government minding its own business.

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