The story teaser indicates that the city will sell the 200-acre antenna farm on Schulte Road, in the adjacent parcel to the west of the peaker plant, to GWF Energy for a solar farm. A solar farm was an excellent idea for the use of the land that was proposed by opponents of using the land for a youth sports complex, and I was very pleased to read that this idea may in fact come to fruition.
However, delving into the article revealed more information regarding the relationship between the city and GWF Energy, particularly the city’s March 3 letter to the energy commission supporting expansion of the peaker plant to a full-time operation. I guess we may have to drop the “peaker” designation.
The article indicates that the city’s letter supporting the expansion touts the money given by GWF to local charities, in addition to construction job creation, and then mentions — in quotes — “environmental improvements,” in that it will produce less smog per kilowatt-hour than the part-time plant now creates. The quotes are presumably due to the follow-up information that states that the expansion of the plant to a full-time operation will generate 53 times more smog overall that it does now.
So much for environmental improvements.
I will concur that GWF has been a good neighbor, at least subsequent to the decision to build the plant due west (and upwind) of our community — a decision which would be 53 times as unfortunate given what may now come to pass. But GWF has helped offset some of the increased pollution by the current plant, among its charitable contributions to local schools, organizations and individuals — I myself was among many who accepted its offer of a gas lawnmower trade-in for an electric model to help offset the increased pollution.
Since GWF’s expansion of the plant would increase the pollution blown over and settling on our community by 53-fold, I would welcome a similar increase in the amount of charitable contributions and pollution offsets by GWF. I would also welcome Mayor Ives, all of the City Council members who voted in favor of the city’s support of the expansion, as well as city manager Leon Churchill to join me in advocating for increased charitable contributions and pollution offsets by GWF.
Perhaps GWF could take a page from Tracy Chevrolet’s playbook. It was announced at the truly outstanding Tracy Unified School District All-District Music performance — which I attended, in which my son participated Thursday evening, and in which my daughter will get to participate next year — that Tracy Chevrolet had donated $12,000 to the district to cover the costs of this program for this year and next, saving it from being included in the district’s massive budget cuts. Thank you, Tracy Chevrolet — you rock!
Tracy Unified Superintendent James Franco also stated during the event that our community is represented by more students than any other in the county at county school music events. Ensuring the continuation of such a positive for our community and its children would be a wonderful opportunity for GWF to continue being that “good neighbor.”
To help offset the added pollution the initial peaker plant would generate, GWF donated a natural gas-burning school bus to Jefferson School District and one to New Jerusalem. As we are in need of additional transportation equipment, this would be another great opportunity for GWF to continue its efforts at being a good neighbor and assist local school districts with more such pollution offsets, which would directly and positively affect the health of our children, the community and the planet.
So what do you say, Mr. Mayor, City Council and Leon Churchill? Join me, won’t you?
And what do you say, GWF? Please ensure your proposed expansion would help prevent and not accelerate the choking off of the sound of music from the Tracy triangle.
• Daniel Wells is serving in the fourth year of his second term as a member of the Jefferson School District board of trustees and has been a long-time advocate for the continued funding of music education within Tracy schools.