Setting the Facts Straight from Letters to the Editor

We’ve noticed a few recent letters to the editor published in the Holland Sentinel that deserve a truthful response.

You can read them from the links provided here: One was titled “BPW is moving too fast on power plant decision,” and another called “Our energy future is not with fossil fuels.”

While it’s our goal to honor honest, constructive feedback, we don’t want to see facts skewed and misinterpretations confirmed as truth.

“Sneaky”

Both letters insinuate that the Holland BPW has rushed this process through without inviting input. One of the letters opens with this line:

In case you’ve missed it, the city of Holland has sneaked through its proposals and scenario analysis for the new energy plan…

We don’t agree that any piece of this process has been “sneaked through.”  We feel that our commitment to inviting the community into this conversation has been thorough. For over a year, we’ve sent numerous bill inserts to all of our customers with facts and information, we’ve lead dozens of public meetings and purchased significant newspaper, online and radio advertisements to promote them. We’ve built an open, public website (this site) and established a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter specifically dedicated to this process.

“Not Reasonable Estimates”

The letters also asserted several times that the HBPW’s analysis is based on today’s low gas prices:

The BPW based its economic study on current prices ($2.00-$3.00 per thousand cubic feet) for fracking gas, and thus proved to itself that this is the best option….

The BPW should not have based its decision for a 40-year life gas turbine plant on today’s spot price for gas. Fracking gas prices will go up.

The present market looks appealing to investors, yet is fraught with unseen costs. These costs are not reasonable estimates for the 25- to 40- year lifespan of the plant.

Again, we don’t feel this accurately represents the truth. In actuality, we have explained in our public meetings how each scenario involving natural gas factored both high and low estimates of future gas pricing. No one can perfectly predict the future of energy prices for any resource for the next 40 years, but our analysis was fully inclusive of pricing possibilities much higher than today’s prices.

Not “Loud Enough”

Lastly, both letters claimed that our period of public comments was inadequate:

The BPW didn’t publicize these hearings loud enough.

The BPW timed the public comment period (Aug. 9- Sept. 9) to coincide with a time when many Holland citizens are away on vacation.

The month-long public comment period will soon come to an end on Sept. 9, preceded by an ill-scheduled set of public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dismissing that we’ve been accepting public commenting through our websites, social media and public meetings for over a year, this particular period of public commenting has been advertised especially well. We have paid for newspaper advertising soliciting community input, asked for input through this website and on Facebook, and provided telephone numbers, email addresses and easy contact forms for sending input. We have scheduled public hearings for people to read their opinions into the public record and spent a month advertising and promoting the meetings.

We remain respectful of differing opinions as we try to make the most responsible decision for Holland’s energy future, but we won’t allow these types of misrepresentations to diminish the the hard work done by so many people in our community to make this an open, inclusive process.

Please don’t forget to attend the Formal Public Comment Hearings tonight and tomorrow from 5-7pm at the Holland DoubleTree Hotel.

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