The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Answers needed to alternative energy inquiries

 


To the Editor:

An article in the Sept. 18 Daily Globe reported about my presentation to the Ontonagon County Commission about how the Western U.P. Planning and Development Region officials would not answer my questions.

It is important that the public knows what my questions concerned. I have attended WUPPDR meetings where they promoted an alternative energy such as pellet plants.

I agree with the concept of alternative fuels. However, I believe information provided to promote these uses should be based on facts, with the intent of creating a facility that is profitable. The sole intent of the program should not be to get more government grants. They should not pay $10 in free gas to people who attend just to increase the attendance in order to get more government grants.

To support my concern, I provided the commissioners with two documents. One was a May 18, 2008, article from the Daily Globe which touted the possibility of a $7.1 million plant with $3.55 million in federal money, $2.49 million in state funds, plus funding from the county’s revolving loan fund, to fund the study.

It has been five years and still no plant. What happened to all the money? What happened to the plant? I get no answers to my questions.

I also presented the commissioners a copy of documents which show where some farmers in New York mortgaged their family farms and built a pellet producing plant with $500,000. They had no government grant money. They used their own money.

What has all this government money produced here? No pellet plant.

In talking with local farmers and property owners, there is one overriding concern: They are concerned that should they mortgage their farms and build a successful pellet plant, what happens if some group with political pull comes in with millions of dollars of government grants and puts them out of business?

These are not idle concerns. Think of it. $7.1 million and no plant in five years with access to the deep pockets of the government, compared to $500,000 in private money borrowed on their family farm and an active producing pellet plant.

Pat Kitzman

Ewen