There’s a development proposal now pending between the City of Whitewater and Green Energy Holdings for a waste digester. The community’s heard only a bit about the proposal, from one newspaper story, and an item in then-city manager Brunner’s Weekly Report (publicized verbatim thereafter).
The proposal’s been described in big terms, but there’s been little detail about it. In fact, considering the way the idea has been touted (‘monumental,’ in the former city manager’s words), there’s an odd lack of specifics.
Appearing below are a few preliminary & general questions about the project. They’re not exclusive of other questions, but rather the most general and preliminary questions that a reasonable person might ask.
Answers to simple questions like these should have been provided before Common Council’s last session, and before the last CDA session. Information in answer to these questions should be the standard practice in any American community
There’s no particular order of importance, but rather a listing by topic.
1. What’s the actual name and business form of Green Energy Holdings? The draft of development proposal to Common Council described GEH as Green Energy Holdings, Inc., but the Community Development Authority’s agenda described it as Green Energy Holdings, LLC. These are not the same entity – but describe two different Wisconsin businesses. Which is it?
2. Green Energy Holdings, Inc. was registered as a Wisconsin corporation on 4.3.12. Why so recently? How – under what form — was it doing business previously? An officer of the company, speaking at the most recent Community Development Authority meeting of 6.27.12 mentioned that it had been recently reorganized. Why?
3. If GEH registered as a Wisconsin corporation in April, with whom was the city negotiating previously? Former city manager Brunner, in his Weekly Report (6.22.12) wrote about the proposal, and said the city had been working with GEH for “the last nine months.”
4. How did the city first learn of this proposal?
5. Which employees from city staff worked with GEH – under whatever business form — during the nine months’ time that Brunner mentioned? How long did they work on it?
6. If city employees have worked for a long time, why is there so little information available? If they have worked only a little during those months, why have the advanced the idea with so little preparation?
7. Why has there been no document of any kind – other than the proposed development agreement – shared with the public about this proposal?
8. How many digester sites does GEH own and operate now? Where are they located, how large are they, how many do they employ, what digester technology do they use, and when were they built?
9. In the sites that GEH operates now, what value have the GEH plants contributed to the community?
10. Where is GEH’s headquarters now? How many work there? How long has it been their headquarters?
11. Why does GEH’s corporate filing with Wisconsin use the same post office box address as the one listed for Northern Concrete Construction? What’s the relationship between GEH and Northern Concrete Construction?
12. How has GEH calculated its reported claims of economic or property value added to a community? Does GEH use an independent firm or firms to calculate this professed, added value?
13. How did GEH arrive at a target figure for incremental property value claimed for a Whitewater digester? Where is the written analysis representing that target figure? Who prepared that analysis?
14. Before submitting a draft proposal to the Common Council, did Whitewater’s city manager or others on his staff undertake or request an independent analysis of claimed incremental value for a digester? If so, why has that analysis not been make public?
15. Other than Whitewater, in what other communities does GEH have present plans to build?
16. One of those other, proposed communities is Maribel, Wisconsin. What is the status of the project in that community? Has anyone in that community raised environmental concerns?
17. Before submitting a draft proposal to the Common Council, did Whitewater’s city manager or others on his staff undertake or request an independent analysis of the environmental impact of the project? At the CDA meeting of 6.27.12, a representative of GEH mentioned devices to restrict and contain odors. What sort of odors are there? The representative also mentioned truck traffic. How much truck traffic, and how often will it run to the plant?
What impact will the processing of food waste in the facility have on the surrounding land, air, and water?
18. Before submitting a draft proposal to the Common Council, did Whitewater’s city manager or others on his staff receive visit other communities, and interview residents in those cities, about existing GEH projects? If he and his staff did, to whom did they speak, and when? If he and his staff did not, why did they not?
19. How much public money will be required for this project, and how much of the investment will be privately funded, from GEH?
Tomorrow: Questions for Whitewater’s Community Development Authority about a Proposal with Green Energy Holdings.