EDITORíS DESK: Has anybody seen that elephant?
What is the purpose of a city-owned utility company? Is it to ferret out the best deals for ratepayers and ensure that its service is efficent, quality-oriented and mindful of customer needs?
Or is there a new definition, one that involves social sensitivity and an unwritten commitment to protect our community, and if possible the world, from global warming and/or climate change?
What, did I just push about a hundred readers' buttons with that last question? Are some of you coming unglued because I'm even bringing it up? Bringing it up, I mean, with a skeptical tone. And if so, why should it bother you?
To use a favorite term of politicians, isn't that subject the so-called "elephant in the room"? Why else is the City Council majority pushing so hard for this solar garden project when Springs Utilities does not urgently need more solar power, when it's far more expensive than coal or natural gas and when the public subsidy was negotiated so as to ensure that solar vendors stay in business?
And yet nowhere in the hours of recent council discussion on this matter have I found an actual debate of these salient points. Jan Martin says that the ratepayer cost will be low and even scolds Utilities staff for not being more enthusiastic. Lisa Czelatdko says economic development is already being subsidized, so why not this. Plus, she likes having a "diversified portfolio." I guess that's supposed to sound important. And Brandy Williams expresses frustration that council doesn't seem to be moving fast enough - even seeks to prevent public comments at a meeting.
So why aren't councilmembers talking about the elephant? Or are they worried how it will sound if they come out and admit publicly that they want Utilities to be an agent for saving the planet? I mean, prove that not passing the subsidy deal is killing us all, and you've got my thumbs-up. But otherwise, reports are that solar prices are dropping. Utilities might cut a lot better deal a year from now. Can the elephant come forward?