Sound investment or irresponsible debt? Evergreen Pulp
Sound investment or irresponsible debt?
By Leif Nesheim – The Daily World
Saturday, October 18, 2008 11:28 PM PDT
Russ Skolrood pits a first-term commissioner against a PUD outsider calling for change.
Skolrood, a teacher at Hoquiam High School, told The Daily World’s Editorial Board recently that he’s concerned about the utility district’s increasing debt and its plan to partner in the purchase of the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill.
Eddy said the spending represents a sound investment in system reliability and the PUD’s interest in power from the pulp mill is a cost-effective way to meet the state’s legal requirements that utilities use a certain portion of green power. And he points to reductions in electricity rates as prime evidence that he should be re-elected.
Eddy said the subjects Skolrood claims aren’t being discussed really are being discussed and at length during the weekly public meetings that Skolrood doesn’t attend.
Cosmopolis pulp mill
The PUD’s plan to partner with Evergreen Pulp to buy the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill is one of the top issues in the campaign. Eddy believes it is a good idea that will help meet upcoming state renewable energy requirements while Skolrood worries that it is a risky investment.
The Grays Harbor PUD intends to purchase the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill’s power generation facilities to generate electricity by burning wood waste. The plan would cost $17 million, plus an estimated $10 million to restart the generators.
However, the deal has dragged on for months as proposed partner Evergreen Pulp has yet to sign a deal with the current owner, the Weyerhaeuser Co.
Eddy and Skolrood spoke with the Editorial Board before Evergreen announced its plans to temporarily close and lay off workers at its California mill.
A big part of Skolrood’s concern is that much of the deal was developed behind closed doors, he said.
“It seemed like a done deal before much was said publicly,” he said. Everybody wants jobs, Skolrood said, but he’s concerned that the PUD could be left holding the bag if Evergreen pulls out. He’s also leery of public and private entities in partnership, he said.
Eddy supports the plan, but he’s no longer optimistic that Evergreen will be able to acquire the mill.