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Can't go green in times of financial hardships

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In the article "'Green Discussion,' City to seek grant for solar energy at BREC," The Pioneer noted that the cost per kwh for solar electric power at the BREC would be about $10 while Otter Tail Power currently charges 7 cents per kwh. However, the Pioneer erred by attributing all the cost of the solar project to be charged off in one year. That is the only way they could obtain such a high estimate of the cost for solar electric power. They divided the estimated project cost by the estimated kwh of power for one year to obtain a ridiculous estimate of the cost for the solar electric power.

Solar panels should last more than one year and the cost should be spread over a longer time period. If they last 10 years, the cost drops from $10 to $1 per kwh, roughly calculated. If coal power plant construction costs were charged off against to one year of operation they couldn't be providing power for 7 cents per kwh either. This is a whopping conceptual blunder on the part of the Pioneer.

That said, electrical power at $1 or even $0.50 per kwh is too much in my opinion when the public purse is involved, even if the city can gull someone else into paying for it through grants. I know that there are more reasons to "go green" than just financial considerations, and I am a big supporter of green initiatives, but we are in a time of great financial hardship everywhere in the country, the public is strapped, and the city is spending taxpayer money on the BREC like it's Lake Bemidji water.

What were they thinking, if they approved moving ahead on this project, if they thought the power would cost anywhere near $1 per kwh, much less $10, regardless of who pays for it? They are disconnected from reality. I think that's why they didn't kill the BREC when they could have stuck us with only small sunk costs. Now they are madly bailing to keep the city financially afloat at the same time they keep drilling holes in the boat, metaphorically speaking.

Mayor Lehmann will have abandoned ship by the time it sinks though. He chose to leave office before he can be held accountable for sinking Bemidji.

Way to go, Captain!

William Smith

Bemidji

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