The Next Administration

At the mayoral debate there was one question I thought was better than the others, and I didn’t asked it. Barbara Tetreault asked the candidates how they were going to unify the city, which has been polarized for years over the Laidlaw issue. Now Paul Grenier is going to be taking the reins of an administration as divided as the city. Even the alliances he formed to win this election are ones that may not play out well once they are in council chambers: Mike Rozak said at the debate he doesn’t agree with Mr. Grenier on much, but he agrees with him on the Laidlaw issue.
The council will have to get over the rough campaign. As I’ve said several times, I didn’t expect it to get this contentious, but from what people have told me this is mild by Berlin standards. But Councilor Ryan Landry had harsh word for Mr. Grenier at the council meeting several weeks ago. Soon the two men will sit together every Monday night. Councilor David Poulin was outspoken in his support of the incumbent council at the debate; now he will be joined by three of the people he criticized. Mr. Grenier, Mr. Rozak and Mr. Danderson blasted the current council pretty hard over the campaign. The three will soon join the six incumbents—somehow they’ll have to move forward.
Someone said as the election results came in that the old was going to have to learn to work with the new, and the city would get the best of both. Let’s hope that’s the case. What is so interesting is the traditional alliances have been shattered by one issue, and people who would normally support one another are on opposite sides.
I’m interested to see how Mr. Rozak and Councilor Mark Evans work together. Both are fiscal conservatives, but Mr. Evans backed Mr. Goudreau in the election. I’m also interested to see how Mr. Grenier and Mr. Rozak interact. I don’t know much of either man’s history, but as I understand it they don’t really come from the same side of most issues.
And then there is this new group of Mr. Poulin, Mr. Landry and Mr. Cayer. These councilors are trying to make the city think and act in new ways, ways the newly elected mayor and councilors do not agree with. They will have to work with the old guard to get anything done.
It will definitely be an interesting time in Berlin. It isn’t clear what the council can do to aid the Laidlaw project’s progress, or how the new councilors will fulfill their Vote Jobs promise before the next election, seeing as no biomass plant is likely to be operational before 2011.
In all, there was definitely a shift in the leadership, but not enough of a shift to make a 180 degree turn. It may be a contentious two years at city hall.
Or, as Ms. Tetreault suggested, the mayor might find a way to unite the city in order to move forward. Berlin can only hope.

16 thoughts on “The Next Administration

  1. Eric,Mr. Grenier will not unite the council. He is a bully and this will become apparent to you after he takes office. You will see how he operates. He is the last person likely to unite the council. He simply does not understand the word "compromise". Mark my words.

  2. Good point Norm. Hey what do you all think about Michael posting on this blog? Even though PSNH's lawyer says yesterday(on record) that there is no deal he still tries to spin the information to look like there is a deal. Is that some kind of joke?

  3. If it's a joke it's not very funny. Why should we be surprised by Bartoszek's statement? He's made dozens of questionable statements before, that's who this guy is, a very slick salesman trying to make a get rich deal happen. Read the disclaimer at the end of every press release. We in Berlin are trusting folks and we have very little experience in dealing with people of this caliber.

  4. What do you think Cliff about Laidlaw citing a non-existent agreement for over a year? I think PSNH did a good job ignoring those Laidlaw statements for over a year, Cliff. Why would a PSNH attorney so specifically describe the absence of a power purchase agreement rather than being vague, unless of course he was pushed to be specific. Would you then think, Cliff, that the attorney may actually be the one leveling before the law because he is pressed for details and doesn't want to risk anything under oath?

  5. Anonymous:Nope, you're wrong. A quote in a news release is a material statement of fact. Subsequent statements based on that material statement (such as PSNH quotes to news outlets such as the Concord Monitor and Berlin Daily Sun) are also material statements of fact. Publicly traded companies such as Laidlaw and PSNH parent Northeast Utilities are bound by specific obligations when issuing material statements of fact. As a matter of legal obligation, PSNH could not simply ignore Laidlaw statements contrary to fact, especially since those statements were contained in a joint Laidlaw/PSNH news release. To prove your thesis that no agreement exists between Laidlaw and PSNH, you need to assume that the CEO of a publicly traded state regulated utility knowingly issued a false statement of material fact, which is a very serious accusation. That assumption requires the somewhat improbable scenario that a CEO would risk his company for the sake of a single power purchase agreement. Not likely, A…- Cliff Myers

  6. Cliff, An attorney of the the CEO/Company PSNH is stating there is no agreement, yet it is highly unlikely that the CEO would knowingly issue a false statement of material fact to the contrary. Why would the attorney specifically state as reported by the Daily Sun in stark contrast to the CEO statement as follows?from the Berlin Daily Sun"Bersak said PSNH does not have acontract with Laidlaw but has agreedto a term sheet for a 20-year contractand is still negotiating price. He saidany contract would be subject to Laidlawobtaining all the necessary permitsand the approval of the PUC.“The Laidlaw deal is, I guess, a twinklein Laidlaw’s eyes at this point. But we’llcontinue to negotiate,” Bersak said"

  7. Anonymous:Read it again: "…PSNH…has agreed to a term sheet…"In other words, an agreement exists between PSNH and Laidlaw, which is exactly what both parties have been saying for a year. No one lied….Bill just heard what he wanted to hear.- Cliff Myers

  8. Cliff,I'm glad an agreement exists as you claim. This proves the point of Clean Power in their case against PSNH. Why would PSNH not consider buying power from Clean Power at a 5% discount to the deal they have with PSNH? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, much like Michael Bartoszek and apparently the lawyer from PSNH. LLEG & PSNH are playing dirty here and that is becoming obvious to everyone involved, including the PUC. Let's hope the PUC puts an end to the LLEG/PSNH deal forever. Then Clean Power can start construction and starting putting North Country natives to work.

  9. How can CPD agree to sell power at a 5percent discount to Laidlaw when they don't know the terms of the Laidlaw – PSNH deal? So CPD's business model is basically (x) – 5%? How do they know they can afford to operate or even finance their plant at that rate? Wouldn't their plant also likely cost more on a per megawatt basis because they are starting from scratch? Perhaps PSNH's issue is not with CPD, but rather with the lack of a viable business plan?Another issue that I wonder about is the notion of "shovel ready." Putting all the other issues aside, the one key point to me would seem to be whether or not CPD has the funding in place to build their project if they are successful in obtaining a PPA. Can someone please answer this?My understanding was that one of the goals of this blog was to ask the tough questions that weren't being asked by other local media or even the city council. I am puzzed, however, as to why no one has seems to ask these basic questions of CPD.Alex M.

  10. Anonymous:Mr. Bersak laid this precise point out for the PUC. Clean Power can't get a power purchase agreement from anyone because their power is too expensive. Any costs from a bad agreement are borne by the ratepayers. But, of course, the PUC would never approve an agreement that hurts the ratepayers. So what Mr. Bersak is essentially saying is that there is no basis for negotiation with Clean Power because they cannot produce power cheaply enough to pass PUC muster. We don't know on what Mr. Bersak bases this statement, but it would be reasonable to assume that PSNH got a peek under the hood when they were "in the middle of evaluating an offer from Clean Power…"To your point about the 5% discount to the Laidlaw price, you are absolutely correct. Any pro forma statement that depends on an x under the exclusive control of what a company has defined as its main competitor will attract little more than gales of laughter from investors. No investors, no project.This PUC investigation is going to boomerang on Clean Power. Sooner or later, they are going to have to address Mr. Bersak's assertion that their power is too expensive. It isn't enough to claim that they can sell power at x minus 5%; they will have to demonstrate it. And as you surmise, their capital costs on a per megawatt basis are not likely sustainable. When it turns out that Clean Power's pro formas are scratched out on the back of a soup label, the Commissioners won't be very amused to have wasted their valuable time.- Cliff Myers

  11. Cliff,It is my sincere opinion that PSNH has a moral and ethical obligation to consider any offer of power from newly proposed renewable resource power plants. Clean Power simply wants PSNH to tell them why they won't even sit down at the table for negotiations. That is the crux of the argument before the PUC. Correct me if I'm wrong, but PSNH has not yet provided any rational reasoning for not negotiating with CPD. Do you know why they won’t talk to CPD? Despite what you seem to think, PSNH is not working with Clean Power because they just don't like Mel Liston (in my opinion). If that is not true then they'll have to provide a reasonable explanation to the PUC. It is morally reprehensible for PSNH to snub a company that is supported by the City and plans to build a plant that is appropriately located (outside the City center) and appropriately sized to take advantage of the locally available biomass grade wood supply. PSNH’s actions are insulting to Clean Power and insulting to the intelligence of the rate payers of the State of NH and the Citizens of Berlin. PSNH should be compelled by the PUC to at a minimum sit down with CPD to see what they have to offer. Is that so much to ask? Not in my mind. Try to spin those words to your "pro-Laidlaw" agenda.

  12. Anonymous:The PUC is not charged with sorting out moral or ethical obligations here. This is a legal question, and as Mr. Bersak pointed out, "PSNH is not required to enter into long-term power purchase agreements with any developer." PSNH has provided two rational reasons for not doing business with CPD: first, "Clean Power has been unable to find a buyer for its power because it is too expensive"; and second, "PSNH was in the middle of evaluating an offer from Clean Power when it renewed its complaint against PSNH before the PUC".Why do I think PSNH won't talk to CPD? I don't have to guess: according to Mr. Bersak, it's because "Clean Power has used threats of litigation and libelous accusations to coerce PSNH to buy its generation," and as Mr. Bersak observes, "You must trust the party across the table from you." So in a single word: trust.With all due respect, this isn't a question of what you or I think PSNH should or should not do. It's a question of the law, and under the law, PSNH is under no obligation to do business with CPD. And as for "moral and ethical obligation", does anyone have a moral or ethical obligation to deal with a party that "has used threats of litigation and libelous accusations to coerce…"?(All quoted material from Berlin Daily Sun 11/5/09)- Cliff Myers

  13. Nice spin Cliff. Complete BS, but nice spin nonetheless. Bartoszek needs to hire so you can ensure that his plant destroys the northern forest and our quality of life forever. Keep up the good work.

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