Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwing public money at bad ideas

I confess I did not go to, nor did I watch the City Council meeting Tuesday tonight, so I don't know what the Council's repose to the SAB was concerning their proposal for the city to purchase wind power was.  The purpose is to lower the city's carbon footprint at a higher cost to the taxpaying public, just to be able to show that Lake Oswego is part of a small group of cities that are hip and sustainable.  SAB does not mention the vast majority of metro communities that do not spend money on this expensive power program.  

USC wonders why SAB did not propose this expense to the Budget Committee like other special interest groups did.   I'm m

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City Council Meeting
July 7, 2015
Agenda Item 4.1 

The proposed annual cost of $28,110 to purchase 100% Clean Wind is a small fraction of the over $1.3 million the City currently spends on electricity.
Let's never make the mistake to consider $28,110 a trifling sum.  You can compare the number to any other and it can look large or small, but the amount is still $28,110, or about 1/4 FTE, a year's mortgage payments. or rent for one or two families.  It is always easy to look at OPM as insignificant and not consider where it comes from at at what cost.  

The City is lagging behind local businesses like Shorenstein Realty Services, Our Lady of the Lake, and New Seasons Market who all currently purchase Clean Wind power from PGE. These businesses recognize the economic advantage from the good publicity, marketing opportunities and community approval that comes with setting a positive example.
"If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" Why should the city spend the people's money on some goofy logic that says the city needs "good" publicity and marketing, or token political gestures?  Are so-called green politics (aka Greenwashing) a core service?  Good gosh, I hope not!  

The Sustainability Action Plan for City Operations 2014 Updated has a greenhouse gas reduction goal to reduce emissions 10% below 2000 levels by 2020. Purchasing Clean Wind will lower City carbon emissions by 12,555,616 pounds of CO2, allowing the City to affordably reach this goal.
Affordable?  What reduction in city expenses will the city (public) see with this less expensive option? (Oops, I forgot, it's actually more expensive.) 

From the 2014 Sustainability Plan:
Strategy 1. Clearly articulate financial and other benefits of City sustainability projects to employees, decision makers, and the community.

Alternative sources of energy like solar and wind are renewable and carbon-free, and these power sources should be supported with government subsidies.

The Northwest (Lake Oswego) gets most of its energy from hydro-electric sources which are renewable and carbon free.  If other sources of energy are sustainable, they need to be cost-effective as determined by the marketplace.  


  1. Considering that Lake Oswego has over 35,000 residents, the $28,000 cost works out to less thank $1 a person. I certainly support every avenue that encourages clean energy and reduced carbon emissions.

    1. I'm sorry, either you didn't get the point or I wasn't clear. The cost isn't the most important part of the story. We could be talking about $10,000 or $100,000, 25 cents per person or $5.00, it's all the same to me. Governments should not be spending more of our money than necessary on anything, especially a feel-good endeavor like this. If YOU want to buy wind energy, great! But don't ask the rest of us to pay for your good causes. I don't think the government, you, should pay for what tickles my conscience either, even if it is "for the greater good." The municipal government has a very limited role in providing services and should do so in a thrifty way so that all of those 36,000 people can afford to live here. Plus - I believe we are all paying for wind power whether we choose to or not through federal and state grants and tax waivers.