Monday, October 26, 2009

New movement from the power plant people

After all this time, there have been some stirrings from the Southwestern Power Group, the ones who hope to build a power plant in Bowie. I got the following in email from Mike Jackson, who likes to keep tabs on the county supervisors and let people know what they're up to.

For the November 10 BOS meeting: a hearing (Action Item or Public Hearing not specified) on the request by "Southwestern Power Group II, LLC [Phoenix] ... for a 5 year time extension to make substantial construction progress for the Bowie Power Station, a natural gas-fired power generation plant (approved in 2002) located approximately 2 miles north of the unincorporated community of Bowie ...."

In September 2002, the BOA approved rezoning 260 acres to establish the Bowie Power Station. "The rezoning was conditioned upon making substantial construction progress within 5 years," that is by 2007.

In September 2007, the BOS extended the deadline three years, to December 31, 2010.

Now the BOS is asked to extend the deadline a total of eight years, to December 31, 2015. The Docket number is Z-02-13A.

Along with a comment from Hedley Bond:
"Given that essentially nothing has happened on this project in 7 years, an additional 5 years seems like a major request. There was some minimal site work last year to comply with an ADEQ deadline for the start of construction but the site has been dormant since then. They're probably having problems lining up financing in today's economy but, given that the price of natural gas has dropped in recent months, I'm hoping that the BOS will settle for a more reasonable 2 or 3 year extension. A five year extension would mean a plant designed in 2002 could be built 10 or more years later without substantial improvements in design or efficiency and that seems like a lot to ask. I'm pretty busy in Tucson at the moment and don't expect to inject myself into this debate, but I'm hoping someone takes it up, particularly as this extension proposal will probably get some support from Bowie residents."

Question from Diane Drobka:
"Do "we" have a spokesperson that represents us at the BoS meetings? Are you tracking meeting notices so that we know when they will discuss such things and can be certain to attend? What is our best course of action? Should we each write letters to the BoS stating our concerns about a plant being built using old technology, or would that imply that we are supportive of the plant if they upgrade it? I prefer no power plant as the best option but, if one is approved, it should at least be current technology."

Response from Mike Jackson:
"1, about having a spokesperson. I don't recall any one person getting out in front on this at BOS meetings. Of course, it's been a long time since it came up at a meeting. I don't recall how much organization there was at the September 2007 meeting. At least with this item not coming up till November 10, people have a couple of weeks to organize.

2, about tracking meeting notices. Yes, I track them, but it's all public information at sites like
but you have to watch both of those because info on one won't necessarily make it onto the other. However, those don't come out until late the week before a meeting, so they don't give you much lead time. For more lead time, you can check the notices at
but remember that a lot of things that will happen at meetings don't get published in those notices.

And there's always the problem that "packets" the Planning Department has had ready for a month may still never be made available on the net at all, and even if you go to a meeting you may have to ask specially for a "packet."

Things are still set up way too much against the free flow of information. That's one thing CCIPRA has been working on, & there can never be too many citizens fighting that particular fight.

3, about best course of action. Whatever your opinion is on a particular issue, get out the word! Contacting your supervisor, then the other two, is always the best way to start, IMHO. Reader comments on news articles are good, too. Letters to the editor. Just plain coordinating with the community, getting attention and squawking so that public officials can't ignore you. At some point, you have to allocate your energies between fighting a particular abuse by gov, & fighting the gov structure that allows abuse after abuse.

I hope this doesn't sound too much like platitudes. Maybe Hedley has more specific local info. MJ"

Suggestion from Kim Vacaru, Western Director of the Wildlands Network (
"We could write a short letter to the BOS, get as many local residents to sign on as we can via email, and send it to BOS.
I'll write it up and circulate if that seems reasonable. Kim"

I'll post updates as they come in.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things you can do to help promote solar power

I got this list from Valerie Rauluk, who spoke at the CCIPRA meeting.

1. getting the word out that solar energy is a viable, cost effective option and offers economic opportunity for the community.

2. support elected officials who are actively engaged in bringing more clean energy alternatives to our communities.

3. encourage government, businesses and individuals to support clean energy funding mechanisms such as the renewable energy standard and tariff.

4. encourage government, businesses and individuals to include energy efficiency and clean energy generation in its operations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Local Efforts in Solar Energy (and how you can help)

Solar energy - At a recent combined meeting of CCIPRA and Voters For Rural Values, Valerie Rauluk and others spoke about alternative energy sources, especially solar. Valerie Rauluk is founder and CEO of Venture Catalyst (VeCat), a consulting firm which has secured over $3 million in federal funds to enhance the solar industry. [Email her at]

Valerie's message was simple: solar is coming, and its cost will drop. Solar is reliable, and well suited to Arizona's conditions. Already, from 1990 to 2005, the retail cost has dropped from $7.50 to $4 per watt. Valerie said the Arizona Corporation Commission's ‘Renewable Energy & Standard Tariff’ (REST) rules require utilities to generate 15% of their output from renewable sources by 2025. [see] Existing coal-fired plants won't go out of business, but people can work to see that few new ones are built. A homeowner can combine solar with power from the grid during peak use, or on cloudy days.

Valerie showed a 2x4' solar panel which produces 60 watts. For higher needs, panels are strung together. A system requires panels, a DC to AC inverter, etc. Banks are getting on board with funding, and financial assistance for homeowners is available through rebates and federal and state tax credits. Valerie estimated that a $9000 system might, after rebates and tax credits, cost a homeowner only $2000.

Jim Cooley, solar installer, showed slides of solar panels installed on a roof or on the ground. He said most people off the grid have a backup generator in case of several cloudy days. [Email Jim at]

Wayne Crane of SSVEC explained the Sun Watts rebate program. SSVEC will give a rebate on the cost of installing solar, OR pay wholesale for solar power fed back to SSVEC. He agreed with an audience member that “a better deal for the homeowner might be appropriate.” [For more info see and,]

Dan Frey, from Gabrielle Giffords’ office, said that her Community Solar Energy Initiative advisory council identified three key areas for marketing solar power. Giffords plans to introduce a bill to renew tax credits for solar installation until 2020. [See]..

All speakers agree: tell officials that you support renewable energy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Upcoming CCIPRA meeting

CCIPRA is the Cochise County Individual and Property Rights Association PAC, and they have been very active in getting out information about the planned power plant. Now that the planners have reverted to their original idea to burn natural gas, there is still a concern that vast amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere.

At their next meeting, scheduled for 2pm Sunday Oct. 7th, CCIPRA has joined with Voters for Rural Values to invite Valerie Rauluk to talk about solar power. Valerie, who works for Sun-Edison, says that solar technology is advancing rapidly, and many excellent alternatives to power by combustion are becoming available.

Last October, the AZ Corporation Commission (ACC) approved Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) rules requiring utilities to derive an increasing amount of their electricity from renewable energy sources until they reach the level of 15% by 2025, and other states have enacted even more stringent rules.

For first-hand information about state requirements, visit the ACC website: Click on Hot Topics and then on Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff Rules.

Come to the Oct. 7th meeting, bring friends and questions, and learn about solar, a non-polluting alternative to coal and gas fueled plants.

Sunsites Community Center [Highway 191 to Sunsites, turn east on Treasure Rd, 1st bldg on left]. Voters for Rural Values and CCIPRA invited [for meeting info, contact, 642-1760]

9/27 Update: Wayne Crane, PR Manager for Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative will also attend to discuss customer rebates for solar power conversion. There is more information about this program on their website:

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Change in direction

It appears SouthWestern Power Group is changing their plans for the Bowie Power Station.

We learned last Wednesday through public notice that the Cochise County Board of Supervisors will be holding a hearing on Sept. 18th to consider SWPG's request to "extend a deadline for construction of a natural gas electric generation plant which expires on September 24, 2007." The stated purpose of the extension is: "to provide sufficient time for adequate professional and technical review of the revised IGCC proposal, while retaining an active status for the originally approved natural gas facility."

However, just this morning we learned that SWPG issued a press release yesterday afternoon, in which they announced their plan that the Bowie Power Station "run solely on clean natural gas". This change "reverts the project back to the configuration as originally permitted by Cochise County and the Arizona regulators in 2002."

In the release, David Getts, General manage of SWPG, is quoted as saying: "While we continue to believe in the benefits of IGCC technology, we are enthusiastic about building an important project in Bowie and a clean-burning natural gas facility has the best chance of being permitted, constructed, and successful within a reasonable timeframe."

The release also says: "The project has already been granted a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility by the Arizona Corporation Commission, an air permit by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and a conditional use permit by Cochise County. The remaining regulatory requirements will be completed in early 2008 and construction will begin as soon as possible thereafter."

There is no information about this on the SWPG website (last news there on the Bowie Power Station project is dated in June 2006), and the Bowie Power Station site is under revision. All that appears there at this writing is "Please check back shortly. August 31, 2007."

Change in direction

It appears SPG is changing direction.

Cochise County County Board of Supervisors announced last Wednesday that they will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 18 to consider SPG's request to extend the deadline for contructing a natural gas electric generation plant. That permit is set to expire September 24, 2007.

And then yesterday late afternoon, SPG issued a press release announcing their plan that the Bowie Power Station will run solely on "clean natural gas". And that this adjustment to their plans "reverts the project back to the configuration as originally permitted by Cochise County and the Arizona regulators in 2002".

In the release, David Getts, General Manager of SPG, is quoted as saying: "While we continue to believe in the benefits of IGCC technology, we are enthusiastic about building an important project in Bowie and a clean-burning natural gas facility has the best chance of being permitted, constructed, and successful within a reasonable timeframe."

The press release links to the the Bowie Power Plant website; however, as of this writing, content on that site has been replaced with: "Please check back shortly - August 31, 2007"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Our chances to speak out and to ask questions

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors have set a few dates for public or open meetings to discuss the issue of whether Bowie should be the home of a coal gas-fired power plant. It's still not on their online calendar, but informed sources tell me that the following public meetings have been set up.

Mid-Sept. at time and location to be determined--work session to discuss the findings of the consultant–open to the public. (note: this date and the date of the following session have been pushed back by 3 weeks to allow the consultant time to review the case.)

Late Sept.—the regularly scheduled Supervisors' meeting will be held in Bowie or Willcox to make the final determination about this project—it will be open to public comment.

The Cochise County Individual And Property Rights Association (CCIPRA) is hosting two SWPG (Southwest Power Group) reps at their meeting on the 25th and they hope people will come and ask hard questions. Helene Jackson, the spokeswoman for the group, told me, "We'll squeeze people in if we have to. Last meeting, Sharon Thomas presented a PowerPoint on this kind of facility. When SWPG learned she would be here, they wanted to come to the same meeting and 'present SWPG's side.' In spite of their persistence through several emails, we convinced them to come to a different meeting. You can imagine what might have happened had they come to the July meeting!!" The August meeting time, place, directions: Sat. Aug. 25, 2 p.m. Jacksons' house: 4012 Davis Rd., McNeal, AZ 1/4 mile west of 191 on Davis, 3rd house past the school property. Click for map.

Ultimately, the Supervisors will decide whether or not SWPG gets rezoning - they need that before they can do anything else. Supervisors Searle and Newman seem to put great weight on what their constituents tell them, so it's critical that people contact one or both, although our supervisor (Searle) appears to have already decided to vote in favor.

While we're on the subject of the Board of Supervisors, I found an interesting write-up on the internet on how to approach the Cochise county offices to get things done. It's at, and it includes a description of the most recent meeting, where they hired the consultant to help sort out issues concerning the power plant.

The writer, said, "(Agenda) Item 17 was to "hire" a technical consultant for the Board as to the proposed Bowie Power Plant. The selection process... was lengthy and impartial... There was no discussion of the details of county supervision of the work, nor of public access to the report once it is finished.

David Getts, the project's general manager, told the Board that he welcomed the process, but he emphasized that the process might get into areas which the county had no role supervising. Getts did not seem to distinguish enough between the Board's voting to allow or prohibit a coal-burning power plant at all, and supervision of the plant once it is constructed. There may be some tension between the plant and the county on this point."

The same meeting was written up in the Arizona Range News by reporter Shar Porier at

One thing that particularly caught my eye was this quote:
"The ADEW team (ie. the hired consultant) also will assess ... the effects of carbon dioxide on the environment.

"They will review the application of SouthWestern Power Group II and look at state and county guidelines," Vlahovich noted. "They will also look at the carbon sequestration technology and determine what levels could be reasonably achieved."

That last part did not sit well with David Getts, general manager of SouthWestern Power Group II, though the company has been supportive of the technical advisor. Currently, there are no federal standards for carbon dioxide emissions, he pointed out.

"I have concerns with this scope of this specific review, if that indicates a part on the county to regulate air quality," Getts told the supervisors. "That's the job of state and federal agencies."

Searle replied, "I have no intention of taking jurisdiction over air quality, but I do want to look at it properly, however."