Western Environmental News
Power Plants

Mary Zemke demonstrates that there is a progressive, grass-roots Republican movement that can shape national debate and effect local and regional concerns. She shows how we can make a difference by exercising our rights as citizen activists. Her work to focus the dissent about the proposed Grizzly power plant is a lesson in democracy at work. Don't leave it to the professional politicians. Go, Mary, Go! -Editor

Cogentrix to Aquila , From Bad to Worse?

by Mary Zemke

The Crooked River. Photo by Mike Volk

Several noteworthy developments have taken place with Cogentrix since the last article. The amazing results of the primary election in Jefferson County may have finally convinced officials there that Cogentrix may actually be an issue ñ it is about time! In this last May primary election, I ran for Jefferson County Commissioner against the incumbent with the popular last name. We will still both run in November, but I received 1400 votes on the Republican ballot and over 500 write in votes on the Democratic ballot -- an astonishing showing! I think it shows that Cogentrix is very much the issue in Jefferson County, and obviously the people feel strongly enough to cross party lines to fight the thing. In addition, the candidate from Crooked River Ranch who also ran on a no Cogentrix platform, received more votes than any other non-Madras candidate has ever received, and was only beaten by a few hundred votes.

In the meantime, Cogentrix is in the process of being sold to Aquila, formerly UtiliCorp United, a financially troubled energy trader. The acquisition of Cogentrix was supposed to shore up plummeting stock prices and upgrade their negative trading outlook. Cogentrix, for sale at a $2 billion price tag, was auctioned off for $415 million with Aquila assuming another $1.13 billion of Cogentrix debt. On May 21, 2002, Moody's rated Aquila one step above junk status.

Aquila, whose accounting firm until very recently was Arthur Anderson, the Enron bookkeepers, is also the target of a class action lawsuit filed in Missouri on behalf of all purchasers of Class A common stock for making ìmaterial misstatements and omissionsî and failure to appoint an independent audit committee. In addition, Aquila has laid off 650 employees in two sweeping job cuts.

Aquila has been negotiating a 10-year tax abatement with an enterprise zone agreement in Ohio for their peaker plant there. Aquila is free to pack up after the tenth with the result that the revenue wished for by local officials may never materialize. Also in Ohio, two state senators made their stand, ìIf the residents of Fairfield County, particularly those affected by this proposal, do not want this plant, then we will not lend support to any projects of this type brought forth in our district.î It may be well for Oregon state senators to be likewise in touch with their constituents on such matters.

Governor Kitzhaberís Energy Advisor, Roger Hamilton made a statement this spring that power plants should be sited near the area of consumption and bear the brunt of the environmental effects for their electrical usage. Mr. Hamilton stated that the Governor may ask the State Energy Facility Siting Council to consider this when approving locations for new plants. If this policy were implemented, it would certainly put an end to the Grizzly project and any other power plants being sited in Central Oregon. Please let the Governor know that you support his plan.

lose to home, there was a catastrophic transformer failure at the Avista-owned Coyote Springs Plant #2 ñ which is still under construction in Eastern Oregon. The brand new transformer exploded, rupturing its main tank and spilling 17,700 gallons of oil and chemicals into the nearby soil, with the emergency water deluge helping spread the oil mixture around. Nearby BPA crews helped route the oil/water combination back to Avista property. The $1.8 million transformer was a complete loss and replacing it will delay the opening of the plant.

The STOP Cogentrix organization has an email alert contact list, you can sign up by sending an email from the website stopcogentrix.org.
We can also fax alerts if you leave a fax number on the Hotline, 541-475-3721.

The Siting Council is planning to meet in Central Oregon for their August meeting and we will notify our contact list when the date is set.

Thank you, Central Oregon, for taking a strong, united stance to protect our beautiful area. Watching spring come to Central Oregon reminds us again of how blessed we are to live here.
Stop Cogentrix
P.O. Box 976 Madras, OR 97741
Telephone: (541) 475-4446
E-mail: stopcogentrix@hotmail.com


© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.



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West By Northwest

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Ecstasy of Ecology - Penny Livingston and the Permaculture Institute.
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Delight in Guy Weese's Summer in the City Photos
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Barbara S. Thompson's My Life, Chapter 4, Moving Out West to Los Angeles.
Cogentrix to Aquila, Going from Bad to Worse? by Mary Zemke.
Lois Barton's Sunnyside of Spencer Butte, The Cat That Flew and Sauerkraut and All That.
Jonnie Lauch's electronic debut in Nighttime Intruder.


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