Post 65 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.
Today’s question begin is Number 298. All the questions in this series may be found in the Question Bin.
After over two years of discussion, including meetings of Whitewater’s common council, and ten selected meetings with particular community groups, and an unknown (as yet) but significant number of private meetings about waste importation, consider this declaration:
“The simple payback on that [a waste-receiving station at $431,000] conservatively is six years.”
Set aside the absurd, but oddly repeated assertion that this payback would come from discarded salad dressing and the contents of grease traps. A simple question:
298. What number of trucks, by size of truck, would be required to produce a supposedly simple payback in six years?
All these years, all these meetings, including the boasting from Whitewater’s city manager that he’s “nerdy” about these things, and yet no direct and clear mention of the volume needed to meet an estimate for payback.
WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Appearing at whengreenturnsbrown.com and re-posted Mondays @ 10 AM here on FREE WHITEWATER.
I picked my nickname from being at one of those community meetings. The presentations weren’t much. People were polite but no one left thinking “that’s amazing we need to do that”. They solve a problem by looking at outside partners bujt that’s only part of it. If the fact is that you can’t make money without volume a private source will shove volume to the max from anywhere to make money. This series looks like a good bet since the longer it goes the more accurate early concerns about big amounts will be. We’re screwed but you get to say I told you so.
Watching this from campus it’s striking how support and opposition represent different socio-economic perspectives. Those who want this want to pay the bills, as in “we’ll make money.” Those who oppose it see it as counter-productive, as in “you’ll lose more than you make.”That’s based in a class distinction even if no one want to admit it. Arguing for it is a meat and potatoes approach. Arguing against this involves holistic claims that emphasize costs, risks. That’s a more sophisticated assessment. The first group can say that they are being practical. The second group can respond yes but you are ignoring dirt and are shortsighted.
From a policy standpoint, it helps to have as much discussion recorded now as possible. This includes claims that the project is being misunderstood (first on the strawman that others were contending there would be more digesters, now on the claim that energy-production would be harmless as from food waste in distinction to ‘hazardous’ waste). This distinction makes sense to proponents. So much so, that they think it’s an intellectually dispositive argument. In that sense it’s right to say that there are two discussions here. These projects have been debated across America, but not often on camera, with claims like these recorded and so available for later use. It’s much better to let that discussion play out, so fully as possible. There just aren’t a lot of on-camera contentions like these for others to see. There’s plenty of time later to critique those claims. One can afford to be patient.
Council person-wanna be Kienbaum supports this horrendous project. He therefore loses my support. I do NOT want to live in someone else’s Brownwater, WI. ;-0