2017-11-17 / Letters

Other options need serious scrutiny

To the editor:

In the Nov. 3 edition of the Post, Bill Hetzel states that Kleinschmidt has been hired and has clarified the economic picture regarding the Mousam dams.

The picture is not clear. First, for many months some in the community have been trying to get an accurate picture of the net cost of keeping the dams and generating power. At meetings this summer, the selectmen had a choice to study generation, surrender in place (keep the dams, no generation) or removal.

There was a very large turnout by the dam removal groups to put pressure on the board not to review generation. Since two entities had filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the board felt that engaging Klienschmidt for generation study would duplicate efforts. They opted to only study the latter options. It would seem to me that these two entities must have seen a financial opportunity for generation or they would not have initiated their significant efforts to file with FERC.

Second, neither Klienschmidt nor GZA visited the sites or audited the data from Wright-Pierce.

Let’s be clear, Mr Burrows’ statements in the Oct. 20 edition of the Post that the numbers have been verified are just plain wrong. Kleinschmidt has only agreed that many assumptions are reasonable. I see some which are unreasonable, such as a forecast of a 1 percent increase annually in the cost of replacement power.

The electric grid will need upgrades and there will surely be more energy price shocks. He also states that the gross cost of $17 million can be compared fairly to the net cost of $2.5 million. On page 7 of the June 10, 2016 GZA report (kip.org), the worst-case outcome is a net cost of $6.5 million, not $17 million. GZA also discovered other options for virtually the same cost as dam removal. So why would you take them out?

A key comment on page 3 of the June 10, 2016 GZA report (kip.org), alternative energy is that upgrades to the existing equipment could increase present dollar value of generation to $200,000 to $300,000 annually.

Perhaps this is what caused the two entities to file. Why was this option never investigated by KLP? In fact, none of the studies did what Peter Ashley and myself did, which was to go to the town library and look at decades of audited production numbers in the town reports that averaged 2.26 million kilowatt-hours/year for 25 years, nearly double the low numbers during the poor maintenance years of the recent past. And why was there such a poor level of maintenance?

Look, the Wright-Pierce report is full of assumptions and does note that significant future studies are required to validate the information and associate costs.

All GZA and Klienschmidt have done at this point is captured the assumptions that need to be addressed, but accurate from a cost perspective that remains to be seen. All studies need to be viewed and then used as a basis for interpretation. Enron was audited by a highly respected accounting firm, then went bankrupt and the firm was sued. Studies are just that, studies with opinions, not absolute facts.

They did note however, the fish ladders ($6 million cost assumption) is not necessarily a lock; again, a detailed study of the Mousam environment would need to be performed before a final decision is made.

No discussion was made of the trap and truck option for fish passage, which is far cheaper and could be tested first before expensive fish ladders, which might not be needed. This was recommended in the Alden report. It showed nine fish waiting to come up.

In summary: No review of the costs of generation is being done by Klienschmidt and other options need serious scrutiny.

Ward Hansen

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