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DNC promotes another carbon credit scam

Posted by Richard on July 29, 2008

If you could generate electricity from political correctness and self-righteousness, the Democratic National Convention would be powering a small city even before it starts. For months now, we've heard stories about how green this convention will be. Everything's going to be recycled. No fried foods are allowed (isn't that discriminating against certain ethnic cultures?). Caterers have to use mostly organic and locally-grown food. 

The DNC has contracted with a company to provide "carbon offsets" for the unavoidable fossil fuel consumption associated with the convention. Delegates are being urged (cajoled? nagged?) to buy these carbon credits to offset the environmental sin of their travel. But Face The State has discovered that one of the carbon credit recipients isn't doing much carbon offsetting:

WRAY – The eastern Colorado wind turbine tapped for the Democratic National Convention's carbon-offset program has one problem: It doesn't generate any electricity. Convention organizers are now being questioned for their eagerness to market those credits to delegates.

The DNC has contracted with Vermont-based NativeEnergy to offer delegates "Green challenge" carbon offsets to soften the environmental impact of convention travel. That money is then invested in carbon-free "green" energy sources around the country, including a wind turbine installed this year by the Wray School District RD-2. But a Face The State investigation reveals the district's turbine has never produced marketable energy due to massive equipment malfunctions.

It took a blog to expose this boondoggle. Newspaper reporters these days seem to think their job is to recycle press releases and take what politicians and bureaucrats tell them at face value:

In a feature story in Saturday's Rocky Mountain News, reporter Jerd Smith claimed that 20 percent of Wray's power is generated by what it calls "a windmill that toils day and night producing clean electricity." Smith's report professed that the Wray project is "at the heart" of the DNC's carbon-credit program.

The Rocky report also described the school wind turbine as "a project that generates thousands of dollars for the region's cash-strapped schools," but provided no financial data regarding any energy sales to date.

The Rocky story may be right about the windmill generating cash, but it's not from generating energy. It's from hawking worthless "carbon offsets" to the gullible Gaia-worshipping Democratic delegates, who will tell themselves how caring and conscientious they are as they jet across the country to Denver for what amounts to an extended infomercial.

UPDATE (7/30): See comment #3 for some good counter-arguments by an anonymous citizen of Wray. See comment #4 for my response to those.   

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8 Responses to “DNC promotes another carbon credit scam”

  1. concerned citizen said

    For all of you that are bashing the wind turbine in Wray maybe you need to gather your own facts instead of piggy backing on some “out there” wanna be reporter that just likes to stir up anything that could possibly be twisted into something that it is not! I am referring to the so called reporting done on the website “Face the State.” Not one person who has borrowed the misguided information from that unreliable source has any idea about the Wray Wind Turbine Project! The school sold the green tags to the company Native Energy in order to finish out the 1.5 million dollar project. This is something that is not uncommon in the wind industry because of the huge expense to build a turbine. It is because of companies like Native Energy that small entities are able to complete their projects. The school has already sold the green tags so they do not benefit from the delegates buying the carbon offsets, so your comment about the “hawking of worthless carbon offsets” by the school district is not even close to the truth. Maybe you need to so a little research about how green tags are bought and sold and about how carbon offsets are purchased! Those of you out there trying to bash the democratic party about their attempt to “go green” at their convention should focus on just that, not drag an impartial entity into the ring to fight your supposed fight! This project has hit a couple of bumps but they will be remedied in time and for those of you that have said the school district is part of some fraud are grossly misled! This school district and town are trying to do something that is unique, forwarding thinking and this whole project has been and is a huge learning experience for the students and citizens of Wray. The students of our community know what renewable energy is, in large part because they have seen it first hand and they are very proud to have this in their town and to say they have seen how a turbine works. This project has sparked tremendous conversations among children as young as kindergarten, they probably know more about wind power than most of you out there. For some people to take this positive display of helping our environment and drag a wonderful town and school district through the mud because it served a purpose for you, is disgraceful. Find some other pawn to use in your battle with the Democrats and look at this for what it is..a town trying to do their small part in educating students and helping with pollution. The next time any of you enter into a project that has some glitches I hope noone takes it upon themselves to act as an authority on your project and question your motives!

  2. rgcombs said

    Thanks for your remarks, concerned citizen. Are you a resident of Wray? A member of the school board or a faculty member? A student? A DNC flak? It would help readers to put your comments into perspective and know how much credence to give them if we knew where you were coming from.

    You say the school doesn’t benefit from the sale of carbon offsets to DNC delegates because they were already sold to Native Energy. But that doesn’t change the fraudulent nature of the transactions, does it? People are being sold “carbon credits” based on their belief that the money they pay is being used to generate “clean” energy. ”But no “clean” energy is being generated, is it?”

    I don’t know if the people primarily responsible for this fraud are the DNC, Native Energy, or the Wray school board. But it’s clearly a fraud, whoever is responsible.

    Clearly, ”somebody” lied to the Rocky Mtn. News reporter when they told him that the wind turbine provides 20% of the town’s power and “toils day and night producing clean electricity.”

    And School District RD-2 Superintendent Ron Howard refused to provide details of the payments, contracts, and finances, even though those things are supposed to be public records. So, we outside observers can only conclude that he and the school district must have something to hide.

    BTW, you may want to cut back on the caffeine and learn how breaking your diatribes into paragraphs can help make them more readable and comprehensible.

  3. concerned citizen said

    I am a citizen of Wray and know many people who have worked on this project. I have seen it start from a dream and become a reality. It will become a reality in case you are wondering. The new power converter is being installed this week, it has cleared customs and finally arrived a couple of days ago.

    If you know anything about green tags then you would know that they can be pre-sold before projects are completed and operational. This is what I was referring to when I stated that there was nothing fraudulant about the sale of the green tags. Small projects rely on these pre-sale profits to complete projects. The school district did nothing wrong when they sold the green tags before the turbine was functional.

    As for the news article in the Rocky Mountain News. They never asked if the turbine was functioning. They were told what the turbine will do when it is functioning. The reporter came to a couple of conclusions on his own. The school district and town are not hiding the fact that the turbine has had some problems. The town paper ran an artlcle a few weeks ago detailing the problems with the turbine. It also stated that they are very “fixable” problems.

    As for not releasing how much money was made off of the sale of green tags…. In contracts of that nature, there are clauses; this one had a nondisclosure clause that was entered into by the District and Native Energy. The Superintendent was following the law by not disclosing the money amounts to the Face the State website. If you want the money amounts that the turbine is currently producing through nonenergy means, then I would suggest you contact the Wray Gazette and ask for the article about the Wray wind turbine. It was a very well done article with correct facts.

    In a nutshell… not one person, from the town administration to the school district administration, has ever said the turbine was producing power. As far as the selling of carbon credits by Native Energy, they are credited to the project of choice when that specific project is up and running. So, there is no fraud at any level, just a lot of misinformed people who don’t know a lot about renewable energy and take the word of so called reporters who do or do not do their jobs gathering the facts.

    By the way, Wray didn’t choose to be thrust into this political turmoil. We are just a small community on the plains of Eastern Colorado trying to do our part to promote renewable energy. Although, we were honored to be chosen as a project by Native Energy.

  4. rgcombs said

    I appreciate your further clarification, concerned citizen. I understand the pride Wray’s citizens feel regarding this project and the frustration at being “dragged through the mud.”

    But… (you knew that was coming, didn’t you? ) I still have some issues:

    ”’1)”’ You said that “not one person, from the town administration to the school district administration, has ever said the turbine was producing power.” But the school district website features a short article, “Wray Wind Turbine Comes to Life” (apparently from the ”Wray Gazette”). It references the Feb. 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony as having “occurred over two months ago,” so I’m guessing this article is now several months old. It says “this ‘dream turned into reality’ ”’is providing”’ an environmentally safe source of power to our community…” So it appears to me that your statement is not correct.

    ”’2)”’ Regarding the payments to the district, you said there was a “nondisclosure clause” in the contract with Native Energy, and that Superintendent Howard “was following the law.” But then you said I could find the payment information in a ”Wray Gazette” article — so there has been disclosure!

    Besides, Howard was ”not” following Colorado law, which requires governmental bodies to make publicly available almost everything but personnel records. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that a judge will grant Face the State’s Open Records Act request (and will probably chastize Howard).

    ”’3)”’ I’m sure you and the others involved believe “there was nothing fraudulent about the sale of the green tags,” and that you’re going by what the experts tell you is “standard practice” in the carbon offset business. But to my mind, it’s just not right. I’ll bet you at least 90% of the DNC delegates buying carbon offsets from Native Energy think the trees have already been planted and the wind energy produced. I think they’re being misled (although I don’t blame Wray, but the whole carbon offset industry and its way of doing business).

    I don’t know if you noticed the reference in the Rocky’s article to the parody website cheatneutral.com, which applies the logic of carbon neutrality to marital fidelity by letting the unfaithful buy “cheat offsets” from faithful people (it’s pretty funny, IMHO). Well, it seems to me that carbon offsets sold before the offsetting activity takes place are like “cheat offsets” from someone who promises to be faithful at some time in the future.

  5. concerned citizen said

    1. The website does say the turbine was working because for a short time(very short) it was, which is how they found the problems that needed to be fixed. The story was posted before the end of the school year. Before the major problems were discovered. I don’t disagree with the fact that they probably should take the story off of the website but, it is summer and as we all know schools take a break. So do the people that update the website. The turbine though should be running in due time.

    2. In response to your number 2 statement, I was not referring to the Native energy contract when I wrote about the Wray Gazette article. I was referring to your comment in your initial post about the money being made off of the turbine and the fact that it was not from the energy it was producing. I believe you need to reread paragraph number 4 of my last post.

    3.Mr. Howard and the school district did make the wind turbine information available to the Face the State website. I don’t believe though that they have taken the opportunity to sift through the mounds of paperwork dealing with this project for the last 5 years. I believe in my mind that Face the State just wanted to “stir the pot” and didn’t really care about getting the true facts of this story because if they had taken the time to get those facts then there would have been no story other than the story of a turbine that is taking a while to get finished.

    4. As to the pre-selling of the green tags, well….that is standard practice. Whether it is right or wrong I have no idea, to me “it is what it is.”

    I can understand that it is hard for a person who is not aware of facts to see that there has been no wrong doing but instead of taking one person’s “words” (Face the State) as the truth without seeking the truth on your own is an error in judgement. This is what is wrong with our country. If one person says something, whether it is accurate or not, people jump on the bandwagon and that is a shame. Just so you know, any comment you make, I would have a comment that carries the truth not a misrepresented twisted truth to “stir the proverbial pot.” However, I am putting this issue to rest, I would hope that all of you do too.

  6. rgcombs said

    I agree, it’s time to put this to rest. We’ve both presented our points of view clearly and in detail, and there’s not much more to say. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

    I appreciate your willingness to engage in this dialog — I think it’s been valuable. Thanks again for stopping by! (Hope you got a chuckle out of Cheatneutral.)

  7. concerned citizen said

    Thought you might be interested to know that for the last 3 days the turbine in Wray has been producing power! It has been commissioned and is making money based on power put into the grid. Where is “Face the State” now?

  8. rgcombs said

    Congratulations, and thanks for the update! I’m glad that the town and school district are now making money the honest way — by producing something of value. 🙂

    Best wishes to you and the people of Wray. I admire your pride in your community, and I suspect it’s shared by your fellow residents.

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