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Reject tax relief for Cob
H&N 8/22/04

The recent article on page F6 of the Sunday newspaper was so ambiguous that it was almost impossible to ascertain if it was Herald and News opinion or a paid advertisement.

If it was a paid advertisement, it was well disguised as a Herald, and News editorial. A later retraction said that it was placed by a public relations company working for Peoples Energy of Chicago. So let's take a look at Klamath Falls Cob: The Rest of the Story.

Property tax abatement: The argument presented is erroneous. When the property changes hands it will be revalued and the next user may in fact contribute far more than the $1 million, and not pollute the Langell Valley.

Cob will contribute a short term return from the construction activity. That will be offset by the road damage, and related items that the construction will cause, that will be paid for by the taxpayers of the county, and there will be no "offset."

Cob will ultimately employ about 10 people that will be from Peoples Energy Enterprise Zone. The enterprise zone was never intended to supplant exclusive farm property. The original argument put forth by Peoples Energy was that it needed access to the aquifer for the 12,000 gallons a minute in water needed for the plant operation. That argument no longer exists since it is now an air-cooled plant. So the location can now be a real enterprise zone. No one objects to Peoples Energy locating in an industrial area, where it truly belongs.

Economic impact: The economic contribution will in fact be far less, but if the plant is sited in an industrial area, that supposed economic contribution will still be here, only in a proper location.

Education: Any funds obtained will be offset by the state contribution, and the net gain would be zero. If the Cob paid the full taxes then Peoples Energy would contribute $2 million a year instead of the fictional $400,000.

Site retirement: Peoples Energy is already in disagreement with the state over the proper amount of funding to be provided. Naturally, Peoples Energy is low balling the funds, and that is in 2004 dollars, not the 2028 dollars that will be needed. With the inflation rate, the dollars offered now will be worth about 25 percent of what will be needed. Given history, Peoples Energy can be relied upon to just walk away and leave the state to clean up the mess.

Capital improv: The life of Cob is a fixed 20 years. These plants do not prove profitable after that and Cob will be closed.

Employment: The numbers provided by Peoples Energy are inaccurate and reflect the old adage that "figures don't lie, but liars do figure." Again, those figures could apply to any other proper location within Klamath Falls. Again, it is not the Cob that is objectionable, but the location.

Oregon's power needs: Peoples Energy will sell to the highest bidder, and summer or winter, it will not be Oregon. The argument they put forth is by necessity self serving.

Water: Peoples Energy presents the best case for why it does not need to be in Langell Valley. If the plant uses almost no water, put it in an industrial area, which is a proper use for this enterprise.

Agricultural lands: The argument presented makes no sense since it is currently a farm.

Emissions: Peoples Energy has been fined often for emissions violations. The problem is that the emissions are monitored after the fact so damage is done before the report is submitted. In addition, Oregon has a poor track record for controlling pollution. In one Herald and News interview, Ron Trotta, the Peoples Energy representative, summed it up this way, "You should deal with us, because we are bad, but the others are worse." Not much of a resume for a good neighbor company.

Development: The process is flawed, in that you have representatives of a government process and an agency who don't live here, and do not suffer the consequences. It often is the group with the best attorney that prevails. Peoples Energy's public relations firm that produced "Cob: The Rest of the Story," apparently attempted to disguise the document as a Herald and News editorial.

Most everyone I've talked to does not care if the Cob comes to Klamath County. But it needs, like any other business, to pay its fair share of taxes and to place the plant on a property that is already designated for the proposed use.

The blackmail that Ron Trotta uses suggests that if Peoples Energy does not get the property tax relief, it will go somewhere else.

To that I say, "Bet!" Almost all states are far more restrictive than Oregon, and that is the reason Peoples Energy is here.

The proposed ballot initiative is the reason we are now watching the public relations full-court press. The chance that the people of Klamath Falls will let Peoples Energy abscond with $71 million in Klamath Falls dollars for Chicago is slim to none.

Cob is welcome in a proper location, paying its fair share. Certainly our schools and infrastructure need the funding Peoples Energy offers, but to subsidize Chicago is not right.

We need to reject any tax relief for Peoples Energy, and the 10 jobs do not justify placing of that power plant on E.F.U. property. And the $71 million would fund a lot of health, senior citizen and related projects that will bring in far more jobs than the 10 offered by Peoples Energy.

Let your elected officials know how you feel about sending much needed Klamath Falls tax money to Chicago, Ill., and consider what those millions could do here.

Gary Long

8200 Harpold Road  

 

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