Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 58
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for August 31, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

I’ve been following with interest the recent flap about the power plant north of Holden. Essentially, the co-op that generates power for all the local co-ops (such as our West Central Electric) is going to build a plant that will enable them to meet peak demands so country folks won’t run out of electricity. Everyone agrees that it’s good to not run out of power, but nobody wants to live close to a power plant, hence the public aspect of the flap. There are two issues connected with the plant that bear further discussion.

Location of the plant in Johnson County was subject to the County using its bonding power to issue $150,000,000 in bonds that the power co-op will pay off over 20 years. During that time the County will own the plant and the power co-op will pay the county $350,000 per year (plus a $1,000,000 up-front payment to the Holden school district). Then, the co-op will own the plant and will pay whatever taxes may be owed on an obsolete facility that might not even be needed. What was never clearly explained is why the power co-op needed the County’s bonds, anyway. Are they not able to raise funds through their own sources? Were they just following the recent custom of industry to demand concessions from those competing to be their hosts or is there a real reason? Let’s ask our County Commission candidates.

At least one of the people who opposed the power plant location said something to the effect that “if we had zoning this wouldn’t have happened.” They’re wrong. Actually, it clearly shows that zoning only affects citizens, not industry. Let’s suppose zoning had passed & see if anything would have been different. Public hearings? The County Commission had public meetings. Would zoning commissioners from other parts of the county have voted against reliable power for their areas just to save a few property owners in another area? Not likely. When faced with a $1,000,000 payoff to the schools, would that township’s zoning commissioner have opposed it? A tough choice. Even if the all the zoning commissioners voted against the location, all it would have taken to override them would have been a 2-1 vote of the County Commission, which is how they voted anyway.

Oh, well. Let’s just hope that our subsidized power gets on-line quickly so we country folks can continue to enjoy cheap & reliable electricity, whatever the true cost.

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