May 30, 2013

SLUSSER: Let’s not make pursuit of power plant a war

You said so yourself, Mr. Dave Kitchell, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” It’s unfortunate that you have declared war on efforts to improve Logansport, save local jobs and lower utility rates. Your recent article about waste-to-energy plant sacrificed the truth. Please, let’s not make this a war.

First of all, the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists’ awards are given based on interest, structure and writing style. SPJ does neither support nor disagree with the stance that Mr. Ross has concerning the issue he won the award for. His article was not even related to the current issues in Logansport. The organization simply promotes our rights to the First Amendment.

Funding for this project is being provided by private investors and part of the negotiation process is having many different groups (like William-Lynn-James Inc.) research and develop these plans. This one single private investment will double Logansport’s assessed value and lower taxes and energy rates for everyone.

The current city administration inherited an aging, outdated power plant without a plan forward in how to produce energy for Logansport. LMU is being forced by an unfunded federal mandate to shut down our existing outdated coal fired power plant due to new environment regulations. Previous administrations, boards and councils left no plan forward on how to keep the city of Logansport energy independent, competitive and save LMU’s labor force. Mayor Franklin early on developed a plan of action to address the nightmare.

Since the city isn’t paying for this out of pocket, there won’t be any “absorption of cost” by the general public unless the misrepresentations put forward by folks like you delay the project. The city administration will not allow this to happen. In fact, the efficiency of the plant is going to make energy less expensive to produce. Sometimes a city (and it’s mayor) has to be the innovator and this is a great opportunity for Logansport to grow in more than just energy production but also in jobs and pollution reduction. No more paying for trash pickup every month, no more paying a million dollars a year to haul trash to another city 40 miles away, and no more burying it on the hill south of town.

I believe that we have no choice but to invest in our own future. I believe that if there is any risk, it is the best risk the Logansport taxpayers have ever been asked to take. I also believe that there is great risk for taxpayers to continue on the path we have been on for the last decade, which has brought us to where we are today, with LMU losing millions of dollars the past five years, no relief in sight. Staying on this path in the future will prove disastrous for everyone.

As for the willingness to accept other proposals; other ideas have been bantered and brainstormed for a decade to no avail, with no results. All have been dismissed because they do not work for Logansport or LMU, with the exception being the Pyrolyzer proposal. The development of this plant has passed the early stages of looking at other options, and looking back in to the vast abyss.

The new power plant is not an incineration plant. There is no oxygen involved in the Pyrolyzer process. This is just another false assumption put forward by you in your column. The new plant is required by law to meet or exceed strict federal and state environmental standards and must take consistent mandated measurements to prove its compliance in its production of green energy.

Mayor Franklin, in concert with Mr. Paul Hartman, LMU superintendent, has worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week on this project. Their collective efforts have not been wasted in my opinion, and the opinion of folks that vote for a better life in Logansport.

Your saber rattling is underwhelming. Continued, repeated attacks on the city council, mayor, utility service board, utility superintendent, consultants and power plant generation experts from around the worlds, serve no practical purpose, nor do they solve the problems at hand. Filling lawsuits that are dismissed by the courts for lack-of-merit serve to only slow a project that desperately needs to move forward, while costing Logansport taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal defense fees.

Let’s give the elected and appointed officials mentioned herein, the opportunity to fail in their pursuit of a power generation plant. From what I’ve witnessed, the city of Logansport and LMU will have nothing more to lose.

Dan Slusser is a member of the Utility Service Board.

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