Council not interested in balance | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

On June 6 the final report on the electric utility municipalization project on Bainbridge Island will be presented to the city council.

Presenting the report will be the consultant D. Hittle & Associates (DHA) and short comments will be allowed only from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Friends of Island Power (FIP). All other comments are to be given in a later session.

I can understand DHA (consultant) and PSE (resource owner) but cannot accept FIP (citizen advocacy group) being allowed to speak without including the opposition position. Why is the city council putting its finger on the scales?

Against the expressed wishes of numerous citizens, FIP persuaded a sympathetic council to fund the report to the tune of $100,000. As they did with Jefferson County before us, DHA produced a draft report in January which grossly underestimates the cost of acquiring PSE’s assets in a hostile takeover with a total financing cost of approximately $57.7 million. That number will likely rise in the final report.

PSE commissioned the independent Concentric Energy Advisors to prepare a feasibility study covering the same ground and the result was $146.8 million in the most likely scenario.

The city council has received the Concentric report but has no intention of airing it with the public. Fortunately it is available on the PSE Bainbridge website.

If our city council were truly interested in getting to the facts of the matter in a balanced fashion they would allow only the primary stakeholders (DHA and PSE) to speak June 6 and schedule a followup meeting to air the Concentric report, with again only DHA and PSE commenting. A third meeting should be scheduled to take comments from the rest of us.

I have asked this of the entire city council and city manager and received only two individual replies. Only the Hittle report will be presented and only DHA, PSE and FIP will be allowed to comment at the initial meeting. One council member suggested FIP had earned a seat at the table but would not answer why the organized opposition does not.

This has the feel of decision already made, even prior to the reports, on the part of the city council, and we are just going through the motions to provide political cover.

It could be the opposite.

Let the city council hear from you however you lean on this issue.

VARON MULLIS

Bainbridge Island

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