Friday, Aug. 24, 2012: Tea party budget and the cost of bridge demolition

Posted Aug. 23, 2012, at 3:12 p.m.

Energy efficiency

A recent story (BDN, Aug. 2, 2012) on our aging power grid would lead one to believe — wrongly — that the only way to keep the lights on is to spend billions on new electric poles and wires.

Transmission rates are skyrocketing in Maine and the rest of New England. Residential customers paid about 0.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2005, now pay about 1.6, and are expected to pay close to 2.5 cents in the next few years.

There are cheaper, cleaner and smarter ways to address grid reliability problems than to simply pour money into new infrastructure.

Utilities earn as much as a 13 percent return on investment in transmission upgrades, even on any cost overruns. Energy efficiency and demand response programs reduce energy use and also help avoid the need for new lines. Clean generation like solar, wind and efficient combined heat and power properly located reduces stress on the grid too. Unfortunately, utilities have no financial incentive to invest in these often cheaper and cleaner solutions.

We need to level the playing field so these alternatives can fairly compete. We should allocate costs consistently among resources, provide utilities a reasonable return and limit the return on cost overruns. Regulators must ensure that utility investments in new transmission infrastructure are truly needed and that the costs are reasonable. Finally, utility load forecasts should incorporate planned energy efficiency investments so that we do not needlessly overbuild the transmission system. Some progress is being made on this front in New England.

Beth Nagusky

Litchfield

Tea partiers

The Republicans in Augusta like to tell us how they have saved us all big money and trimmed the budget. What they don’t tell us is that the money they cut from roads, schools, police and fire protection has to be found some place, and guess where they find it: the individual property owner. Gov. Paul LePage and his tea party right-wing supporters just shifted the burden onto property owners.

Since LePage has been in office, my property taxes went up $250. Most likely when I get the new tax bill they will be even more. Everyone in this state should pay for the schools since everyone benefits from having educated children.

These so-called “tea partiers” want the budget cut, but where do they suggest we get the money to pay for schools, road repairs, firefighters and police? All of this is paid for by our taxes. What will they do when the roads don’t get built or repaired, when they call for fire or police help and nobody shows up? Seems to me all the tea party wants to do is hate President Barack Obama and help the rich avoid taxes and get richer. And I ask: What is wrong with that picture?

Gregory Boober Sr.

Eddington

Bridge history

What a shame that the historic and beautiful Waldo-Hancock Bridge is to be torn down. The Maine Department of Transportation, the agency whose responsibility it was to maintain the bridge, now says it must be destroyed, at a cost of millions of dollars. Really?

Maybe it can no longer carry heavy vehicle traffic, but for the cost of destruction it could be preserved for pedestrians and bicycles and continue to connect Fort Knox with Verona and the resurgent Bucksport waterfront.

Until 2007, with the help of millions of dollars worth of new steel and concrete upgrades, DOT deemed the bridge safe for all traffic. All those expensive upgrades are still in place, but now DOT wants to spend millions more to tear them out and destroy the bridge. For a comparable cost, why not remove the hundreds of tons of deteriorated concrete decking, designed to carry commercial traffic loads, and replace it with lightweight decking suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.

We could save our historic bridge and provide a service which is sorely needed, since the new bridge does not provide safe passage for pedestrians. Plans called for a separate pedestrian and bicycle deck but it was not built. Now intrepid walkers must cross single file in the traffic lane. I invite DOT bureaucrats to enjoy a white-knuckle stroll in traffic across the new bridge before they sign the contract to destroy the old one.

J. Michael Davis

Stockton Springs

Thank you, Mr. Vigue

I have lived in Maine for almost 40 years, and in all that time I have never had so many terrific interactions with my neighbors as I have had in the past six months. We have gathered many times, to hear and speak about ideas and solving problems. The groups have included people of all ages, genders, origins and political persuasions, yet we’ve felt we had something in common that we could all agree on — that none of us want a 220-mile-long corridor to cut our state in half.

It has been a refreshing change, an opportunity for civil discourse. In the process, we’ve found we have more in common than we thought, and for this I sincerely thank you!

Patti Dowse

Cambridge

Supporting Geoff Gratwick

As a member of the Republican party in Maine I am corresponding to express my support for Democrat Dr. Geoffrey Gratwick for Senate Seat 32. This Senate seat represents all of Bangor and part of Hermon.

Mr. Gratwick has gained experience in local government through his several years on the Bangor City Council. He has shown a commitment for the well-being of Maine citizens through his decades as a physician in the region.

Late this spring, when the Drugs for the Elderly and Medicare Savings Programs were being slashed by the governor, Geoff Gratwick stood with other concerned citizens to protest the cuts. These programs assist the elderly and disabled to purchase lifesaving medications.

The incumbent Republican State Senator for District 32 voted for legislation that will leave nearly 2,000 Maine seniors without the extra help they need to purchase life-sustaining medications as of October 1.

Candidate Gratwick has the experience, commitment and compassion to represent all the constituents of Senate District 32 regardless of their financial status. His budget experience includes working to present a balanced budget for Bangor residents through many tight budget years. He will advocate for Maine seniors who have paid taxes all their lives, served our state in the military and deserve a fundamental sense of dignity in their final years.

E. Jeff Barnes MBA, CAS

Bangor

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/23/opinion/letters/friday-aug-24-2012-tea-party-budget-and-the-cost-of-bridge-demolition/ printed on September 22, 2014