Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy (WACE) have made it clear from
the start that biomass plants have a number of issues: 1) biomass
plants bear significant health risks; 2) biomass plants waste
enormous amounts of water; 3) biomass plants are risky investments
in an increasingly competitive energy sector; and 4) biomass plants
contribute to global warming.
In the light of rising global temperatures, worsening drought
conditions, and dropping prices for solar panels, an increasing
number of people are understanding these simple truths.
The Industrial Authority has to be congratulated for the courage to
admit that energy from biomass plants is indeed more expensive than
energy from solar plants, and we have not even figured in the costs
associated with the consequences of air pollution coming from
Although this point has already been made earlier, note again that
solar plants are much better alternatives, economically and
environmentally: they do not pollute our air, they do not need any
water, and a huge spill of solar energy is simply called a sunny day
… of which we have plenty here in the south.
I’d heard a rumor that some sort of lawsuit about the biomass site
was the subject of some of the Industrial Authority executive
sessions for real estate discussions.
VLCIA has finally said in public what their position is.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority plans to send a
petition to Lowndes County Superior Court to sue Wiregrass Power,
LLC, for a clear title on the land purchased for the development of
a biomass energy plant.
The Authority believes Wiregrass defaulted on a lease agreement to
build the plant, placing ownership of the 22.22-acre tract back in
their hands, but Wiregrass denies the allegations. This denial casts
“a cloud” of suspicion on the Authority that may prevent
it from re-marketing the property, according to the petition,
leading to the suit.
Sounds like they’re publicizing their intent
to try to scare Sterling off without having to sue.
I’m for that.
“It’s forthcoming. I can’t tell you anything because quite frankly,
lawyers have their own schedules. I literally do not know specific
details because I’m not privy to that information as of this moment.”
Well, it’s good to know somebody’s in charge at the Authority.
The IA promised a future of more open communication.
And yet Tuesday, the board’s attorney refused to answer any questions
regarding the potential sale of the land to the company, citing a caveat
in the Open Records Act that protects information involved in a current
legal issue. The Times issued an Open Records request Tuesday to obtain
the information requested or copies of the litigation documents, assuming
that since the attorney cited this exemption, there is an active lawsuit
over the land sale.
The Valdosta City Council could also hold an ethics investigation
of their own appointees to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority,
on the topic of why those appointees are in favor of a project with
demonstrated health hazards to the community.
According to Ashley Paulk, a few months ago VLCIA approached the Lowndes County government, asking them to ask VLCIA not to extend Sterling Planet’s contract for the biomass plant. Chairman Paulk refused to accept that hot potato and instead laudably told the community what was going on. Yet there was a bit of a good idea in what VLCIA was asking. Lowndes County could pass an ordinance such as VDT is suggesting banning the incineration of human feces.
For that matter, wasn’t the rezoning to build a certain biomass plant according to a certain plan which has no expired? Maybe the rezoning is already null and void and the Commission just needs to declare it so.
Short of that, the Lowndes County Commission could demand transparency from VLCIA:
In a recent Valdosta council meeting, longtime councilman Sonny Vickers
asked if there was any way to put the biomass issue to rest once and for
all. The good news, Councilman Vickers, is that there is and it’s all
in the city’s hands.
The Industrial Authority signed an agreement with Wiregrass Power LLC
which allows the company to purchase the land from the Authority and
proceed with the project on its own. Although the Authority hasn’t
yet voted on the issue, it appears that they don’t have a choice and
may be compelled to honor the agreement.
Compelled? Give me a break!
VLCIA has an attorney, and one of its board members is an attorney.
If they can’t find a way to break a land purchase contract because
conditions have changed, they need new legal counsel.
A usually reliable source tells me that this morning at 8AM
VLCIA will hold a special called board meeting to consider
a specific dollar offer from Sterling Planet for the site
of the proposed biomass plant.
I see nothing in the public notices online.
The Industrial Authority’s
own online calendar has today marked,
although it doesn’t say for what.
The VDT’s online calendar
does have it listed:
Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority Special Called Meeting
Jul. 8, 2011
Purpose of meeting is to discus real estate. Call 259-9972.
2110 N. Patterson St.
The VDT calendar doesn’t say what real estate, but the source
has usually been correct before.
Since it’s about real estate they’ll probably go directly into executive
session, which means the public can’t attend that part.
However, public can attend the public street outside.