Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Shady Marinwood CSD Solar Contract (It is not too late)

The "World Headquarters" of C2SGG and Richard Devore, 29 year old financial entrepreneur in New York, New York who will be providing Marinwood CSD financing for SolEd Solar contract.

As followers of this blog know, Marinwood CSD entered into a very high priced Solar Power Purchase Agreement with SolEd Benefit Corporation that was facilitated by former Marinwood CSD manager Cyane Dandridge in a "hush hush, no bid" deal in November 2012.  

The project has had many delays due to SolEd Benefit Corporation and the lack of financing.  In March 2016, the board unanimously approved the contract and already the contract is TWO MONTHS behind schedule and in violation of contract terms.

The board was warned about the financial instability of the SolEd and the blistering report by the City of St Helena who summarily fired SolEd Benefit Corporation in November 2015 after a years worth of broken promises.

Marinwood CSD will be paying up to SEVEN TIMES the cost of competitive solar systems  ( 20 cents plus per KWhr vs 3.5 cents per/KWhr of a purchased system).  There appears that they used NO INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ANALYSIS in evaluating the system and instead relied solely on the representations of the salesmen, Jonathan Whelan of Optony and David Kunhardt of SolEd Benefit Corporation

The contract will last for TWENTY YEARS.

The interim financier is 29 year old Richard Devore has an address at a lawyers office in New York City (above). He has had a remarkable number of business ventures in his young career.  The contract for Marinwood is held by his Delaware Corporation formed in May 2015 and his "parent company" was formed a few months earlier.

The long term financier has not been identified nor are the ultimate terms of the twenty year contract known.

Does this sound like a smart decision for the Marinwood CSD to you -especially when we have the top solar companies in the world right here in the Bay Area?  

This is why informed residents object to this SolEd solar contract and ask that the Marinwood CSD cancel it.  They will save the district tens of thousands of dollars if they purchase the system outright. The Sonoma Water District was in the same SEED program, cancelled it and realized over $100,000 savings with a direct purchase.

Come to the Marinwood CSD meeting on June 14, 2016 at 7:30 PM to voice your objection to the SolEd Solar contract.  Encourage a more cost effective renewable energy solution 

(This article was published in 2016.  The solar panels were installed in September 2016 after months of mysterious delays.  It is still not active as of this writing.  No long term financier of the project has ever been identified and some believe that SolEd and SSG2 group is unable to get financing.  This is a disaster was predicted by several citizens prior to approval. In November 2015, the same contract SolEd was dismissed for performance by the City of St Helena.  The warning signs were clear but the Marinwood CSD approved and Eric Dreikosen, Marinwood CSD manager has provided excuses ranging from PGE failure to perform and months delay to permitting issues.  Both have been dismissed as complete fabrication and/or exaggeration.  A request for information under the California Records Act has been stonewalled for months.  The responsible parties for this disaster should be dismissed.)

Whats wrong about the Marinwood SolEd project? A Twenty Year Mistake at up to SEVEN TIMES cost

At last, the ground has broken for the Marinwood CSD Solar Project.   The proposal was submittedd by a former Marinwood CSD director, Cyane Dandridge who personally profits from the project.  After a series of secret negotiations,  a bidder who had been in business for a few months won the project over well established competitors.  Two years of delays due to financing difficulties and a stubborn will by a new Marinwood CSD to NOT PUT THE SOLAR CONTRACT out for competitive bids, resulted in a twenty year commitment with an unknown company from New York, NY.    

It hardly seems possible that all over the current Marinwood CSD board (Izabela Perry, Jeff Naylor, Justin Kai, Leah Kleinman-Green and Bill Shea)  could be so naive but they voted for the project unanimously in 2016.  Justin Kai even INCREASED the size of the project.  They think the project is "FREE".

All of the Marinwood CSD directors believe the project will "cost nothing" since it is paid from a twenty year commitment to purchase electricity at up to SEVEN TIMES the cost of similar solar system until 2036.

How could they be so feckless?  Simple.  No independent analysis was undertaken outside the board.  Former Marinwood CSD Director, Deana Dearborn was very skeptical of the proposal and recommended against the project but she left office before the final vote.

The Marinwood CSD directors won their solar project.  It was similar to the one cancelled by the City of St Helena just weeks in November 2015 before DUE TO BREECH OF CONTRACT by the SolEd Benefit Corporation.  They all cite the virtues of solar while ignoring the obvious error in locking us into a proposal that will produce energy at seven times cost of similar systems for twenty years. 
(published on 9/13/16.  Justin Kai since resigned and moved to Oregon. Despite the essential solar panel being completed in September 2016, they are not active.  The Marinwood CSD manager claims that delays by PGE were the cause.  Some believe that the financial backers either did not have the capital to complete the project.  No long term financier has ever been identified.  This gross incompetence on behalf of local taxpayers is not acceptable.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Brendan O'Neill - hate speech laws & censorship make people stupid

Ask A U.S. Citizen: Do Immigrants Commit More Crimes?

White nationalist Richard Spencer attempts to troll Libertarian conference and is promptly rejected

White nationalist Richard Spencer attempts to troll Libertarian conference and is promptly rejected

Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, raises his fist as he speaks Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M officials say they didn't schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
According to Reason’s Robby Soave, white nationalist and alt-right leader Richard Spencer attempted to crash a Libertarian gathering in Washington D.C., but after a heated argument with one of its famous attendees, Spencer was escorted out.
The incident happened Saturday night during 10th annual International Students for Liberty Conference at the the Marriott Wardman in Woodley Park where the event was being held. Spencer reportedly attempted to host an “unscheduled and unwanted conversation” at the bar of the hotel regarding his pro-white nationalist views with attendees.
According to economist and author Steve Horowitz, the group “Hoppe Caucus” — a group of “alt-right libertarians” named after philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe — intended to bring Spencer to the hotel at the same time as the ISL conference as an intentional troll, even including a sign that said “Richard Spencer ISFLC 17.”
Soave gives more details of Spencer’s time at the hotel, and his inevitable departure.
Eventually, Jeffrey Tucker—an influential libertarian thinker—confronted Spencer and made clear to the alt-right provocateur that he “did not belong” at ISFLC. Some shouting ensued, and hotel staff intervened. Shortly thereafter, Spencer left.
It’s not completely clear whether Spencer departed of his own accord: he seems to think he was forced to leave, while others say he asked security to see him out safely, even though he was in no danger. But it hardly matters: the Marriott Wardman hotel is private property, and should enjoy the absolute right to evict irksome and unwelcome guests from its premises.
Horowitz says that when conference attendees heard Spencer was at the bar, and number went to confront him. At first there was an attempt at rational discussion, but as the crowd grew in size, and the shouting match between Spencer and Tucker grew heated, the hotel staff saw fit to kick everyone out of the bar. Spencer reportedly asked to be escorted out for his own safety, though Horowitz denies that Spencer was ever in any danger.
You can watch video of the exchange between Spencer and Tucker below:

One common theme many of the Libertarians discussing this incident share is that Spencer, and the alt-right are not welcome amongst the Libertarians. As the Libertarians of SFL demonstrated, and Soave writes into words, “the incident should make abundantly clear that the alt-right’s racism is incompatible with the principles of a free society. Libertarianism is an individualist philosophy that considers all people deserving of equal rights. In contrast, Spencer is a tribalist and collectivist whose personal commitment to identity politics vastly exceeds the left’s.”
As well, the SFL President Wolf von Laer said in a statement that his organization did not invite Spencer, and that they “reject his hateful message and we wholeheartedly oppose his obsolete ideology.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Flush this attempt to hike taxes down the drain

Flush this attempt to hike taxes down the drain

Feb. 9, 2017

Updated Feb. 12, 2017 10:29 a.m.


Rainwater spills over a clogged storm drain Tuesday, Jan 5, 2016, in San Leandro, Calif.AP PHOTO/BEN MARGOT

California voters have said emphatically, and repeatedly, that they want to vote on tax increases, but some lawmakers just don’t want to hear it.

A new bill by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, could lead to significantly higher property tax bills without voter approval. Senate Bill 231 would accomplish this by changing the legal definition of “sewer service” to include stormwater, allowing local governments to charge property owners for the construction and operation of stormwater management projects.

Under Proposition 218, passed by voters in 1996, citizens have the right to vote on taxes, fees and assessments, with three exceptions: trash, water and sewer service.

A 2002 state appeals court ruling said stormwater was not included in these exceptions. Consequently, taxes, fees and assessments for stormwater projects must be approved by two-thirds of voters.

Sen. Hertzberg thinks the court got it wrong, so SB231 would simply redefine “sewer” and “sewer service” to include stormwater and storm drains.

The cost could be considerable. Under federal and state law, state regulators require cities in California to comply with a special permit to discharge stormwater through storm drain systems. The MS4 permit, as it’s known, mandates stormwater capture and the reduction of pollutants.

A California Supreme Court ruling last year indicated that parts of this permit may be a state mandate, meaning the state would have to pay for it, unless local agencies have the means to pay for it themselves.

By changing the definition of “sewer,” Hertzberg’s bill would give them the means: higher taxes with no need for voter approval.

The cost of stormwater permit compliance for cities in L.A. County alone has been estimated at $20 billion. Property tax bills could rise by hundreds or thousands of dollars to pay for it.

This is Hertzberg’s second attempt to pass a bill redefining “sewer” to get around the requirements of Proposition 218. Last August, SB1298 was on the verge of passing when it was derailed by a surge of opposition from taxpayers and many local government officials.

It doesn’t smell any better now. Californians have the right to vote on taxes. There should be no confusion about the meaning of that.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Unbalanced Cost of PCE Spills

The Unbalanced Cost of PCE Spills

Written by Jeff Carnahan, L.P.G., Senior Project Manager, EnviroForensics.
As seen in the August 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

As nearly all dry cleaners have become keenly aware, the use of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in the textiles industry and the management of wastes resulting from its use have become as heavily regulated as nearly any other industrial chemical to date.  In fact, environmental concerns resulting from the current or historical use of PCE are practically as common as those arising from gasoline stations.  As discovered by an increasing number of dry cleaner owners or operators; however, the amount of time and money that is required to investigate and ultimately clean-up sites that have been impacted with PCE can be several times higher than at typical gas station sites.  Additionally, it seems that PCE releases are on every regulator’s radar these days.  This article discusses a few of the complicating factors about PCE releases that make them so unique. 
PCE is Heavier than Water
Part of the reason that PCE releases are so challenging to investigate and remediate pertains to the properties of the chemical itself.  The specific gravity of PCE solvent is 1.6230, which means that it is over 60% heavier than water under normal conditions.  This characteristic makes it possible to recover and reuse solvent from mixtures with water in gravity separators.  To demonstrate, let’s first look at the example of how petroleum releases behave in the subsurface. 
Petroleum products, including Stoddard solvent, are less dense than water.  A significant release of gasoline or petroleum solvent will typically travel downward through soils where a portion of the impacts will have a propensity to be caught up in the soil matrix.  Once a petroleum spill reaches the groundwater table it floats and migrates horizontally.  As a result, most petroleum releases are fairly shallow in nature and comparatively simple to reach for remediation purposes. 
Releases of chlorinated solvents, such as PCE, also travel downward.  Once the release comes into contact with groundwater, a fraction of the PCE will start dissolving until its solubility limit is reached.  The remaining portion will continue to travel downward until an obstruction is reached, such as a clay layer, where it may pool and act as a deeper source by continuously dissolving PCE into the water.  If multiple subsurface clay layers exist there may be multiple continuing sources of groundwater impacts.  As a result, releases of PCE can be deep and very complex in the subsurface.  Additionally, if not carefully designed and implemented by an environmental consultant experienced with PCE releases, clay layers may be penetrated by soil borings and pooled solvent may be remobilized into deeper aquifers; making conditions worse.
PCE is Resistant to Natural Breakdown
There are naturally occurring microbes in the subsurface that breakdown organic pollutants into less toxic or non-toxic substances through a process called biodegradation, or bioremediation.  These microbes may directly ingest the pollutant, breakdown it down chemically for use as energy (electron transfer), or give off enzymes that destroys its chemical bonds.  The ability of microbes to use (metabolize) the pollutants depends on the chemical characteristics of the subsurface, and what types of microbes are present.  In most microbes, including bacteria, the metabolic process requires the exchange of oxygen and carbon. 
The biodegradation of petroleum compounds is conducted largely by populations of microbes that thrive in an oxygen-rich subsurface environment.  Recall that most petroleum impacts are present in the upper most part of the groundwater table where oxygen from the atmosphere is more likely to result in high levels of dissolved oxygen.  Therefore, many petroleum releases are already in the process of naturally occurring biodegradation before they are even discovered.  In fact, studies have shown that most petroleum groundwater plumes don’t extend much beyond 400 feet from the source area.  A common and cost-effective remediation strategy in these situations involves simply monitoring the effects until cleanup objectives are reached, which is called Monitored Natural Attenuation.
Conversely to petroleum releases, the type of microbes responsible for the biodegradation of PCE and other chlorinated solvents thrive in a subsurface environment without oxygen (anaerobic conditions).  The most common anaerobic process for degrading PCE is an electron transfer process called reductive dechlorination.  In this process, hydrogen atoms present in the groundwater are substituted for chlorine atoms in the solvent molecule in order to release an electron during the microbes’ respiration process.  For this to occur, it is necessary for there to be an adequate supply of food to sustain the microbe population during the process. 
Using PCE as the primary contaminant during ongoing reductive dechlorination, each time a chlorine atom is plucked off of the parent molecule; PCE turns to trichloroethene (TCE), TCE to dichloroethene (DCE), DCE to vinyl chloride, and vinyl chloride to ethene.  The conditions present in the subsurface can be studied carefully and a remediation plan can be devised that takes advantage of this complicated, naturally occurring process to help achieve cleanup objectives where spills of PCE have occurred.  Many times, anaerobic conditions in the contaminated groundwater must be enhanced and a source of food for the microbes must be delivered to the subsurface to speed up the reductive dechlorination process.  This adds significant cost and time to remediation projects, as compared to the monitored natural attenuation of a petroleum plume.
PCE Vapors are Persistent and Mobile
Not only is PCE resistant to natural degradation when it is dissolved in groundwater, it also can remain in the subsurface in its vapor phase for a long period of time without breaking down.  As all dry cleaners know, the volatile nature of PCE means that it will evaporate from a liquid to a vapor easily; that is one of the characteristics that make it such a good cleaning solvent.  However, once PCE is released to the subsurface it also volatilizes and disperses through unsaturated soils.  If the vapors reached an occupied structure and migrate into the occupied space, vapor intrusion (VI) has occurred.  VI concerns are at the top of most every regulator’s list of concerns since PCE is considered a probable carcinogen, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of revising and finalizing its guidance on the issue.

The petroleum hydrocarbon compound Benzene is a major component of gasoline spills, is also very volatile and is a known carcinogen.  In the presence of oxygen, once again, benzene vapors have been shown to naturally degrade in the subsurface environment.  As a result, the occurrence of VI concerns resulting from releases of petroleum products is limited.  Since PCE vapors do not readily breakdown, they have been known to travel great distances from even minor solvent spills.  Many dry cleaners are located close to their customers in highly populated areas, and as a result the risk of VI to occur from a subsurface release is compounded.  The VI exposure pathway is an extremely complicated process, which requires a sophisticated and knowledgeable environmental professional to adequately investigate and address. 
Although the cost of investigating and addressing VI issues can greatly affect the total dollar amount of PCE remediation projects, the potential cost of third-party legal concerns related to off-site migration of PCE vapors are typically not even quantified. 
These are only a few of the reasons that releases of PCE from neighborhood dry cleaners are commonly so much more expensive to address than those from the typical corner gas station.  It is crucial that owners and operators of dry cleaning operations that have historically used or presently use PCE be aware of all potential funding sources; such as historical insurance policies, or even potentially redevelopment clean-up grants.  Only a few states actually have remediation trust funds established for cleaning up dry cleaner sites.  If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having the financial responsibility for a release of PCE to the subsurface, be sure to consult with an environmental professional that fully understands the special issues related dry cleaner sites and can make smart, cost-effective decisions.