No, my comments on Monday weren’t a prophecy. Apparently, in the quest for “efficiency,” the County wants to open their own power plant to supply heating and cooling for county-owned buildings. While I applaud steps to reduce the governmental overhead, I suspect something more is afoot here. According to the study, “several hundred thousand dollars” would be saved each year, for an initial investment of $19 million. So, let’s do some figuring (math for you TPS graduates). Assuming no interest on the debt (not possible), and no cost overruns (like that stands a chance), saving $300,000 a year on maintenance costs would require over 63 years to pay back the debt. Given the fact that the typical boiler system lasts 20-30 years, I’m not seeing this as a positive for the county. In fact, in order to pay back the principal of the debt alone in 30 years, the county would have to save $633,333 a year.
So, in the words of all great governmental investigators: “Who Benefits?” Well, obviously the local economy would receive a “boost” as money was taken from the taxpayers’ hands and sunk into the new infrastructure. Furthermore, new positions to take care of the boiler system: a new governmental “power and heat generation” entity, complete with union labor, staff, and county engineers would be created. So, the size of government increases with a bunch of new patronage positions.
Another potential beneficiary is the local farmer – at least initially. The “green” aspect of this plan, with the ability to burn multiple fuels is supposed to be both a money saver and an environmental boon. At least, until you look at the requirements to burn multiple fuels both efficiently and environmentally clean. And don’t think for a moment that this will be a zero emissions plant – even with a “hidden” smokestack, the waste air (heat pollution as well as fossil fuel remnants to you eco-freaks) will be vented somewhere – and not too far away either. But, I suppose, we could send Jack Ford out on another tree-trimming mission to get some cheap fuel, or find that the emerald ash borer had moved to elm trees…
Margaritas ante Porcos,
Right Wing Toledo