Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kenyon Energy Extends Deadline to NASD

The Morning Call has an article indicating that the hard deadline that NASD was under to get approval for a solar farm in LNT has been extended significantly (read the article here).

I’ve been against this arrangement from the start. Essentially, the state takes tax dollars and awards them to out-of-state companies to build solar energy plants on school district property. The schools get “paid” a reduction on their electric service (the LNES estimate was $50,000 per year with a $1M grant from state to build the plant). What is not made public is how much money the energy company earns on these plants.

My position aside, here is the latest. LNT denied the NASD plan. Dr. Lesky held a press conference stating the entire deal was done if LNT didn’t grant approval by the end of September. The school would lose much needed revenue and the taxpayers would have to bear the burden. LNT didn’t budge. NASD filed a lawsuit.

According to the article, the NASD missed a zoning appeal hearing last week, because a Kenyon employee who was to testify at the hearing failed to make the trip from FL to PA due to illness.

Now Kenyon officials, who previously said end of September was the latest they could wait, are willing to wait until January or February if needed.

While residents are upset with the thought of a three acre solar array staring at them, the larger issue is the use of public property for private business use completely unrelated to education.

The article also notes that in addition to the $1M in state grants, Kenyon is looking at federal grants to use toward construction. For Kenyon, you can understand the desire to move fast. Construction is paid for by state and federal tax dollars, land use is provided by the school in exchange for a reduced rate on electric (which doesn’t cost Kenyon any money), and they are then free to sell the remaining electric for profit.

I wonder what the cost of 3 acres of land in Lower Nazareth runs these days? Take that figure plus the grant money being received compared to the annual ‘savings’ in electric and the overall taxpayer gain/loss has got to be a significant loss.

And I don’t blame Kenyon, who in business wouldn’t want a deal like that? What do you think?

Posted via email from Ross Nunamaker


NazoRanter said...

Just curious, while I agree with your "out of state" comment, how far have you extended it? My guess is that many of the contractors that were used to build the new school were from out of state. We know the district purchased a new software package for the parent portal from an out of state company, yet the original one was located right here in PA.

They all made money off of us, but where was the outrage then? We as taxpayers didn't benefit, other than a larger tax bill that is.

So will the power company make money on this? Sure. But, will we the taxpayer also benefit? You bet. It isn't a lot, but it is indeed something.

Districts around the country have utilized partnerships with corporations to offset budget shortfalls, and have been quite successful. Why can't we?

The argument of the solar farm by the locals also doesn't wash. There is an open sewage treatment facility in the same field. Where was the outrage there?

The real issue however, is this District needs to learn the term "FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY" and stop spending, and even cutting spending, but we all know that will never happen.

NewsOverCoffee said...

Two part response here:

First, I do believe whenever possible they should try to utilize local contractors, but I see leasing public land to private entities as a very different situation.

What if the school took this new leasing program and ran with it. They could legally take land from citizens, as they threatened to do with Calandras, and then lease that land to private companies so they could earn additional revenue.

Second, will the taxpayer benefit. Do the math. $1M in state grants, plus federal grants - all taxpayer money. Plus loss of land use. And the return is $50,000 per year. It will take over 20 years to begin to start making any money on this.

We are giving away three acres to a private company, giving away state grant money, and receiving a discount on our electric bill at one school building that is less than the cost of one new teacher's salary and benefits.

Budget shortfalls do need to be made up, and I don't have a problem with partnerships provided they receive scrutiny, but this solar program is no partnership and we don't receive much of a return for our investment.