In a letter to Seven Days last week [“Letters to the Editor,” March 17], Department of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien stated city officials “purposely kept from the DPS” the use of pooled cash for Burlington Telecom. This is incorrect.
On November 25, 2008, five city officials met with three staff of the DPS to discuss the city’s petition to extend the timetable to complete the build out of Burlington Telecom. At this meeting the city provided the DPS staff with detailed financial projections and a financial statement through September 30, 2008.
This financial statement showed negative cash of over $10 million. It was explained that this negative cash position was a debit to pooled cash. This use of pooled cash reflected the inability of the city to refinance the CitiCapital lease to provide additional funding for BT. In light of the national financial crisis that fall, the city’s inability to refinance BT was readily understood by DPS staff.
The difficulty in financing BT was discussed extensively in this meeting, since it was a significant consideration relative to the city’s ability to commit to completing the build out of BT.
Commissioner O’Brien has been advised about this meeting and the information provided to DPS staff relative to the use of pooled cash. Last fall Mr. O’Brien said he could find no evidence of such a meeting. I would recommend he discuss it with the three DPS staff people who were present.
Jonathan P.A. Leopold Jr.
Leopold is chief administrative officer for the City of Burlington.
On the Ropes
I would like to thank Seven Days and Lauren Ober for the very positive and enthusiastic article on her visit to Burke Mountain Ski Resort [“20/20,” February 24]. However, I would like to clarify an inaccuracy in the article. All closed ropes at Burke are there for safety reasons, not “to preserve a nice stash for the regulars.” Closed ropes at Burke are not “mere suggestions.” “The rules” regarding going under the ropes at Burke involve loss of skiing privileges. Many days at Burke you would have a difficult time even finding a closed rope, and that is the way we like it. But if ropes are up, they are there for a reason!
Worth is ski patrol director at Burke.
Oui the People
I saw “Piecework: When We Were French” in Burlington last night with my wife [“One-Woman Show Explores French Canadian Past,” February 17]. It was wonderful. Some people laughed, but it had us in near tears from start to finish. A fine example of the French Canadian experience.
Go, Alt Power
As Andy Bromage reports in [“In Yankee’s Wake, Legislators Look to Fast-Track Renewable Power Projects,” March 3], Vermonters in favor of clean, renewable, zero-waste energy have an unprecedented opportunity in the wake of the legislature’s historic vote to let Vermont Yankee’s license expire. There has never been a better — or more crucial — time for our state to emerge as a leader in appropriately sited solar, wind and small hydroelectric, ensuring energy security, jobs and a healthy environment for Vermonters.
According to Community Hydro’s Lori Barg: “As recently as the 1940s, Vermont got over 90 percent of its power from in-state hydro — keeping jobs and energy dollars in-state.” Barg claims Vermont has up to 400 megawatts of “environmentally sound, undeveloped hydroelectric potential” — and here’s the most important part — “without building a single new dam.” Despite this low-hanging fruit, only one new hydro project has moved forward in Vermont in the past 20 years.
Now is the time to contact your elected officials to let them know appropriately sited small hydro, along with solar and wind, is the way for Vermont to truly live up to its green image and lead the rest of the nation in developing clean, renewable energy sources.
Josh Schlossberg is a steering committee member of Transition Town Montpelier.
Wind Benefits Overblown
Renewable-energy-projects permitting should not be fast-tracked [“In Yankee’s Wake, Legislators Look to Fast-Track Renewable Power Projects,” March 3]. Vermonters have a poor understanding of their environmental impacts. Field-mounted photovoltaic (PV) arrays such as CVPS’ and GMP’s arrays north of Rutland and in Montpelier, respectively, will shade the ground, inhibiting plant growth and water evaporation. PVs capture less than 10 percent of the incoming radiation and reflect or re-radiate the rest into the atmosphere. Huge agricultural areas must be covered to capture useful amounts of energy.
Wind power is more than 1000 times as sprawling as nuclear power, and neither PVs nor wind produce the quality power of traditional sources. No number of wind farms or PV arrays can replace traditional power sources. They’re add-ons. Some of wind power’s negatives are: high cost — American taxpayers are paying for it now, but ratepayers will later; it negatively impacts grid stability; and it divides communities and has low contribution to demand peaks. Plus, it has low — or no — net proven emissions avoidance. If it had been proved anywhere in the world that wind avoids emissions, the wind industry would be shouting it from the rooftops.
Renewables like wind and solar should be considered for commercial installation only after it has been shown that the calamities they propose to combat are real: that CO2 is definitely driving climate and that they actually do what their industries and those pushing these technologies promise they will. Neither has happened.
Tiny House, Big Fan
Re [Stuck in Vermont: Tiny Houses, The Sequel]: I love this!