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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 08, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Anna, no one is waging a war against a group of town staff and volunteers.... it's when they decide that they should be paid by government tax dollars for their "volunteer work" that the questions occur. I have said repeatedly that they are to be commended for their hard work and that we all hope and encourage them to continue to act as a voluntary advisory council for the East Bay towns. Actually, speaking of "volunteer work", it was surprising to find out that they actually PAID someone to take the minutes!!
Anna June 08, 2012 at 10:29 PM
The article is INCORRECT. Barrington, like all EBEC member communities, stands to GAIN $200,000 in straight revenue to REDUCE taxpayers' burden or offset rising municipal costs. Paying a Project Manager to work through the financial and scientific modeling seems like a value to me. It is petty and childish to keep up a dialogue when you clearly don't have a grasp of the FACTS--not that the media is helping this in anyway with poor reporting.
Gary Morse June 09, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Anna, I did this work professionally for 20 years so I think I know how to measure the integrity of a business case. The premise that the towns will make $200,000 annually is simply wishful thinking based on a flawed Phase II study that has not been updated since 2010. For example, I reduced the net metering rate by 1 penny at the start of the project (a reasonable 10% shift for the life of the project) and pushed the interest rate assumption for revenue bonds up to where it should be at 7.5%. With this shift, the project settles in at an approximate break even point. But this now brings us to the risk in the Operations and Maintenance cost assumptions which could easily shift higher, as well as the additional risk that the assumed annual winds from the study are wrong even by a small percentage on the low side. That is a huge financial risk. Could you please comment with something factual. I'd like to hear your point of view.
marina peterson June 09, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Anna, what do you base your statement of $200,000 gain for Barrington? Surely not on the flawed feasibility report of 2010. Have you seen a business plan? Can you share it?
Anna June 09, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Oh boy. You really need to stop this blog until you know what you are talking about. NONE of the EBEC volunteers get paid. Since EBEC began, only ONE member (I think from Warren) wanted to become a paid consultant. EBEC told him to go to the Ethics Commission (you can look this up). He was kicked off. Oh--and guess where he went? To Apex Wind! The private company that you think would do a better job on the project (with no benefit to taxpayers).
Gary Morse June 09, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Anna, I was actually hoping to elevate your posts to a discussion on facts (see above exchange with "Anna". Instead you refuse and hold fast to name calling, so I can only assume that as usual, the supporters of this initiative had only one goal in mind, another project on the taxpayer dole. In good financial times, a little experimenting is not all bad. We've been doing that for centuries. But in case you haven't noticed, RI is now at the bottom of virtually every measure of financial soundness, and a pariah in the business sector (aka jobs). We need to fix that image, and fast. Taxpayer supported boondoggles are things that must be scrapped.
Manifold Witness June 09, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Anna says that "none of the EBEC volunteers gets paid". That's an interesting statement. In fairness to Anna, maybe what she's trying to tell us is that the volunteers don't get paid. Is that what you mean, Anna?
marina peterson June 09, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Anna, You may be correct about no-one getting paid. Diane Williamson stated at the last Bristol Town Council that the person who took the minutes was paid so I assumed it was true. I believe the figure was $80.00. Are you sure that this was a mis-statement?
Gary Morse June 09, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Volunteers not getting paid is of course true by definition. More important is the list of non volunteers who are getting paid. There is no funded project at this moment, but I understand that EBEC has on payroll a Project Manager? Currently, it appears the reported $119K salary is a spend down out of the $500K EDC grant. This is a problem because the 2010 Phase II study was never updated to the promised Phase III study which was the one that was supposed to have credible assumptions, not contrived data.
Manifold Witness June 09, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Anna, are you saying that if a person leaves the EBEC, he should not be allowed to go to work for a company that may or may not want to compete with the EBEC? For unlimited time, unlimited geographical location, and as to any and all activities? Or...what? How would you define the scope of the non-compete clause that you seem to advocate? What's the consideration? Does the EBEC actually have those "volunteers" (the ones you speak of) sign such non-compete agreements, or are you making this stuff up as you go along? You don’t seem to understand that the EBEC Treasurer has fiduciary duties yet you think that a former EBEC volunteer should refrain from working for another company? Or, maybe you think such non-compete clauses are assumed? As in you “don’t spit into the wind”, “you don’t tug on Superman’s cape”, that kind of thing? The EBEC has paid lobbyists pushing the GA to approve the EBEC legislation. What’s the parity for the relationship with them? Attorney ethics alone, maybe? (That one always gets a chuckle.) Maybe it’s even broader … Do you expect that the EBEC should expect that no other company should even attempt to compete with the EBEC? That may be the RI way but it’s not the American way. Come on, Anna…. educate us.
Anna June 09, 2012 at 11:24 PM
He's not on the board--he's an intern from East Providence. Are you questioning paying an intern 80 bucks to take notes on a $50 million project? Seriously? Guess how I knew this...I asked. That's what I mean about petty. You asked about the $200,000 in revenue that goes to each town--no, that figure is not based on the 2010 feasibility study. The feasibility study just told EBEC whether the project is possible (operative word there is "feasible"). The figures that EBEC presented as revenue to each of the towns (the estimated $200,000) is based on the new wind data just coming out now. As EBEC has said over and over--those numbers have a lot of variables (development costs, etc) and are not a guarantee--but for those of us who keep seeing our taxes go up while services go down, I hope they succeed. It sounds to me like you haven't made any effort to educate yourself on this--so maybe you should talk less and listen more.
Anna June 10, 2012 at 10:32 AM
The question I would ask you is--why are you getting your information from an online blog instead of an actual source?
Gary Morse June 10, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Anna, You must have inside information that nobody else has. As to your recent post above, you imply that there is "new wind data". Could you be more specific? How much were they wrong by in the Phase II study (i.e. the study assumed 41,250,000 kWh annual wind power)? Wrong by 10%, 20% 30%? And if they were that far off on the annual wind power, how can we be assured the cost of installation, the annual operations & maint, the rate of interest, etc, etc. is reliable. What you are saying would be rejected in the private sector as being little more than a guess. You may also want to compare the recent readings in Portsmouth that show wind readings as being historically low at the moment. (see the May Portsmouth Town Council meeting discussion on recent wind readings). And finally, a contrived net metering rate is little more than a stealth tax. When you can make the numbers work without rigging electric rates, then you may have a credible business case. Until then, this is little more than a taxpayer supported boondoggle.
Gary Morse June 10, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Anna, I just visited the EBEC website and nothing is posted on your breaking news story about "new wind data". This should be the greatest news release in the history of the EBEC, yet it is not on their website, or in any Patch or East Bay Times website story, or most important, not an agenda item in tomorrow's EBEC meeting in Bristol at 8:30 am. Could you site your source for your so called breaking story?
marina peterson June 10, 2012 at 02:54 PM
There is a brand new proposed 2870 Sub A to be unveiled, probably Monday. http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/SenPropBills/S2870A.pdf Your thoughts? marina Desperate for revenue I'd say!! Have the towns "pool their resources" is code for let's get this from the taxpayers. The language forbidding it to issue bonds and then recognizing it would have notes or obligations is ambiguous. We can only hope that this is held for study until there is more information, such as a complete accounting of what has been spent so far and an explanation of the many "fuzzy" parts of this bill.
marina peterson June 10, 2012 at 03:03 PM
From house roll call votes section, this vote is significant as you can clearly see who is still in favor of saving the RIEDC. BUDGET - NEW ARTICLE - TO ABOLISH RIEDC AND TRANSFER CONTROL TO LT.GOV’s OFFICE. BY LIMA Yeas: Baldelli-Hunt, Brien, Chippendale, Costa, DaSilva, Dickinson, Ehrhardt, Gordon, Guthrie, Hull, Jacquard, Johnston, Lima, MacBeth, Malik, McLaughlin, Menard, Messier, Newberry, Nunes, Phillips, Reilly, Savage, Schadone, Tanzi, Trillo, Walsh, Watson. 28 Nays: The Honorable Speaker Fox and Representatives Ajello, Azzinaro, Bennett, Blazejewski, Carnevale, Cimini, Coderre, Corvese, Diaz, Edwards, Fellela, Ferri, Gallison, Handy, Hearn, Jackson, Keable, Kennedy, Lally, Marcello, Martin, Mattiello, McNamara, Medina, Morgan, Morrison, Naughton, O'Grady, O'Neill, Petrarca, Ruggiero, San Bento, Serpa, Silva, Slater, Tarro, Tomasso, Ucci, Valencia, Williams,Winfield.42 NV: Desimone, Flaherty, McCauley, Melo, Palumbo
marina peterson June 10, 2012 at 03:53 PM
This new and improved Sub A is scheduled for consideration (a vote) at 5:30 pm Monday evening, June 11th in the Senate committee. Please try to attend. Tiverton is also meeting tomorrow night at &:00pm. Agenda is at http://sos.ri.gov/documents/publicinfo/omdocs/notices/4672/2012/126672.pdf And, of course, EBEC will be meeting at the Old State House in Bristol tomorrow morning at 8:30am. If anyone goes to any of these meetings could you please touch base with me after the meeting? Thanks..
Jack Baillargeron June 10, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Part 1 Just a scan of the new Bill with opinion naturally rev•e•nue noun, often attributive \ˈre-və-ˌnü, -ˌnyü\ Definition; of REVENUE 1 : the total income produced by a given source <a property expected to yield a large annual revenue> 2 : the gross income returned by an investment Isnt this the same as profit Definition; of notes payable The amount of principal due on a formal written promise to pay. Loans from banks are included in this account. Isnt this the same as profit “The members shall receive no compensation for the performance of their duties but each member may be reimbursed for his or her reasonable expenses incurred in carrying out their duties”. Ahh $500,000 already in debt and they have not been formed? Really. Yea a lawyers dream wouldn’t you say. “(1) will be deemed to be a public corporation, instrumentality, and agency of the state of Rhode Island acting for the benefit of the participating municipalities.” So if you are Participating you are not also liable for anything, just how does that work? title 7 entitled Rhode Island Nonprofit Corporation Act, provided, however that the corporation shall not have the power to issue bonds.
Jack Baillargeron June 10, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Part 2 “(f) The notes or other obligations issued by the corporation created pursuant to the provisions of this section will not be deemed to constitute a debt or liability or obligation of the state of Rhode Island or of any political subdivision of the state or of any municipality of the state but will be payable solely from the revenues or assets of the corporation.” What is the difference between liability Notes, versus Bonds, sounds the same to me. They get money from somewhere, but no pay back? How does that one work, inquiring investors want to know. “The by-laws of the corporation shall contain a provision allowing a participating Municipality to withdraw from the corporation.” Let me get this Straight, if it goes belly up the “municipality”, just withdraws and is not liable for any debt? I mean really, how come big business has not found this loophole, could be because it is BS. “pooling of administrative expenses associated with the same, among cities and towns”. Lets see now, they have blown $500,000 dollars already from the EDC, on the backs of all State taxpayers, do the towns now pick up that debt also, or does it come out of the Chairman Napolitano and the other geniuses that thought all this up? Are we really expected to believe that this is some kind of new magic money that appears from nowhere and no-one is liable for it, Sounds like the State plans on getting into the counterfeit money business?
Jack Baillargeron June 10, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Part 3 How come the language gets less and less, each time this Bill is redone, making it more and more ambiguous, and confusing to the point, that it seems the rest of it, is left in the backroom somewhere waiting for the right time, specifically 1 minute before midnight, on the night the legislature adjourns, Just asking.
Jack Baillargeron June 10, 2012 at 03:56 PM
One wonders yet again, what the reasoning is to rush this through, when studies of the wind have not even been completed according to the EBEC web site. Could it be the, because of the Studio 38 fiasco, the EDC is not going to give them anymore money to waste on lawyers and lobbyist to push this thing? Perhaps the backroom deals with towns, are drying up! How come the Chairman’s own City does not even supporting them, Nor the Town of Bristol which was the original author of forming this, shamefully, according to them unaware it was looking to become a Utility! Which I now doubt. Why is it that, 98% 717 post on this, are against, with factual information, and yet the 2% have yet to answer the 98%'s question or yet to show anything that is viable, or where the $500,000 dollars of tax money so far has gone. Why do they always bring up the Windmills instead of the real issue, the damn Bill. Why all the secrecy and private meetings? Where were the Public Meetings by the EBEC? Why were they spending our tax money, wining and dining, to include using RWU facilities who they State were instrumental in helping them form. The constant pat on the back at these functions, that the public new nothing about is astounding and a great example of the arrogance and elitism. Not sorry, but the public is sick and tired of your kind of people with holier than thou attitude that think raping the taxpayer is just a common thing, because it is how it has always been done.
Gary Morse June 10, 2012 at 04:04 PM
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our...."
marina peterson June 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Quote from OSTPA: "Aside from the absolute resolve to get something passed, which this version makes clear, I have but one objection: section (f) ...so who's on the hook if the net earnings are not sufficient to pay the bonds? It seems that the obvious answer is the towns and so what steps will be taken to make the community members aware of that potential liability?"
Jack Baillargeron June 10, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Are these legislators, lying to the people? Of course they are IMHO. When you say you are putting it off until January, "THAT MEANS YOUR PUTTING IT OF TILL JANUARY" Not re-writing it, making it more spooky and full of ambiguous text. Bringing it up time and time again. The main goal of this Bill Has not changed one iota. The point is we do not need a bunch of appointee's screwing us over again like Studio 38 has, the BCWA has, the PUC on supporting this and others. The legislators need some backbone and quit being cowards in this, and open their mouths to the public and say, enough is enough, these legislators supporting this are lower than whale poop. They have no consideration for the taxpayers and are only trying to do this to you, with out even a kiss. SPEAK UP!! Get some gonads and integrity, shout to the media, papers, television, blogs etc. Where are you legislatures? You were elected to represent us, not appointed ignorant elitist on this EBEC, who have no respect for the peoples demands, or for themselves that they keep pushing something that is abhorrent and totally against American values and true integrity of which they have none. Resign from any position, elected office you are in. You are the problem and would not know a solution if it fell in to your lap. Even though you are being lap dogs. There is some nefarious Agenda behind the scenes, or corruption. That makes you unintelligent also. Perception is reality in this obviously.
Manifold Witness June 10, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Marina: Which politicians are still pushing this in the GA with new proposed Substitues? And why?
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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