Electric City Power, Board Meeting, 6/4/07

I was fortunate to be able to attend part of last night's meeting of the Electric City Power Board of Directors. A few random observations follow.

First, City Manager John Lawton discussed the change in the City's share of the Highwood Generating Station from 25% to 15%. He noted that statements alleging that this change should have been voted on or that it was "concocted by staff" stem from a "profound misunderstanding of the project." The City's share is "dynamic and evolving."

My favorite was his Powerpoint slide suggesting possible reasons for the decrease in the City's ownership share:

1. Arbitrary Staff Decision?
2. Conspiracy?

Not Likely.

Wow. Informative. It also dodges the issue, which is the City's contribution of funds based on an ownership share that is based upon the decisions of others. What he pointed out is that the City's share has never been fixed. It always has and always will be the difference between the plant's capacity and the cooperatives' share. In other words, we get the leftovers.

What he did not point out, though, is where any of this is written down. Where did we agree that our community would come along for the ride and take a second priority position? Where is the writing where our City Commission voted to enter a contract providing that we would contribute $1,500,000.00 to a company that we might not ever own?

Because, you see, Mr. Lawton admitted that it is possible that there might not be any power left for the City, our ownership could be zero. But don't worry, he said, the development costs contributed by the City will ultimately be "adjusted" based on the ownership share with which we end up. If we end up owning less than 25%, then we will have apparently given the other cooperative owners an interest free loan for the difference. Nice!

I'll post more later.


Anonymous said...


My questions are about: The Greatest Show on Earth

IF Mr. Lawton will not finish this coal plant business before he leaves office ... THEN who will take credit for spending taxpayer dollars to fund this debaucle?

What rational person would want to take over his job with this apparent financial disaster?

Who will be accountable to Montana taxpayers - The City Commissioners?

Anonymous said...

Will the Tribune be printing the Lawton Letter. Does it really have no date of departure. Most resignation letters have a date when it will take effect.

Hawkeye said...

"Who will be accountable to Montana taxpayers - The City Commissioners?"

Two months ago, Dona Stebbins said...
"And Hawkeye, we ARE the ones making the decisions, popular or not. Mr Lawton is our EMPLOYEE, and carries out the policies decided upon by the Commissioners."

Hopefully, the COUNTY commissioners will do the right thing and end this coal plant fiasco with a vote "No" on the proposed land rezoning. Despite Mayor Stebbins claim above, Mr. Lawton was running the show. The lack of oversight has been appalling. The taxpayers will end up eating a couple million dollars.

"What rational person would want to take over his job with this apparent financial disaster?"

A better question... what rationale person would get a city deeply involved in building a coal plant without allowing the public to vote on it?