BG board opposes fracking amendment PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 24 September 2013 10:17
Citing drastic utility rate increases and numerous other concerns, Bowling Green's Board of Public Utilities Monday night approved a resolution opposing the "Community Bill of Rights" charter amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The resolution states "language used in the charter amendment is vague and open to broad interpretation that will have negative consequences on the Bowling Green Municipal Utilities and all customers such as: increasing electric rates by 86 percent; increasing water and sewer rates by 35 percent; and prohibiting necessary operations of the BGMU. . . ."
"This would be substantial and quite harmful to our customers," Director of Utilities Brian O'Connell told the board.
"I certainly share your concerns," Board Chairman Bill Culbertson said. "When it comes to renewable energy we do a pretty good job. We will be at 35 to 37 percent by 2015, certainly one of the few at that level in Ohio."
O'Connell said the city of Oberlin might rival Bowling Green at that percentage. "Even they have a natural gas peaking plant that can cover their needs in an emergency. With our (gas) units here we can cover a good portion of our needs in an emergency."
In a six-page memo to the BPU, O'Connell provided a point-by-point list of how he believes the proposed amendment would negatively affect the city and its customers and also create conflicts with EPA regulations. He concludes: "While the supporters of the proposed charter amendment are focusing the discussion on fracking of oil and gas wells, there is no doubt it will be expanded to regulate other areas that have nothing to do with fracking. The language in the charter amendment is extremely vague which leaves the interpretation of the amendment to each individual."
Excerpts from the memo:
• Right to pure water.  "Pure water does not exist in any natural water cycle, all water has some contaminants. We treat drinking water and waste water to meet Ohio EPA standards, which contain an allowable level of contaminants. It is unclear if the EPA standard would qualify as pure water . . . ." O'Connell said in the past decade the city has spent $23 million to improve drinking water systems and $25 million to improve its waste water systems.
• Right to clean air. "Every person in the city that drives a car, mows their lawn or heats their house with natural gas would be in violation of this section. Two AMP owned natural gas peaking units and diesel peaking units that are located in the city would be in violation of this section. The city's emergency generators would be in violation of this section."
• Right to peaceful enjoyment of home. The city must perform maintenance projects to replace roads or utilities that serve residents. These projects are typically noisy, dusty, impact access and can be a nuisance to the adjacent property owners."
• Right of natural communities. "The drainage ditches in the city must have sediment removed from the ditch bottoms on a regular basis to preserve the drainage path and reduce potential flooding. This cleaning operation removes plants and animals that live in the bottom of the ditches." The memo also states mowing of ditches would  been in violation "as the ecosystem would not be allowed to flourish."
• Right to a sustainable energy future. " I believe the board has provided our customers with a responsible and sustainable energy future by purchasing energy from diverse electric generating resources. In 2015, 37 percent of our electric resources will be generated by renewable, non-fossil resources such as wind and hydro. We will also have 52 percent of our energy from a new clean coal electric generating plant that meets current EPA standards. Another three percent will come from energy efficient projects. This section would prevent us from utilizing the energy we receive from our fossil fuel resources including Prairie State and natural gas peaking units. "
Using the city's 2013 power bills, O'Connell said "Our electric sales revenues would have to increase 86 percent to cover this additional expense for purchased power. To be clear, our customer's monthly power bill would have to increase by 86 percent to cover this cost."
• Securing and protecting rights. "Ohio EPA issues permits to the city and local businesses to legally discharge water or air emissions from the regulated facilities. This section would potentially revoke an existing EPA or city issued permit for an existing business or facility."
• Securing and protecting rights. "This section states any resident can file a lawsuit against any entity that the resident believes is violating the charter. According to this section, the resident is entitled to recover all legal costs, regardless of the outcome of the court case. It also places the burden on the city to restore the ecosystem to its previous state, even though the dispute would potentially be between two private parties and located on private property."

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