Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Trash talk

Trash magnate Phil Armetta, will be thrown in the pokey for three months. Considering he could've gotten a maximum sentence of eight years, I imagine he's relieved.

In case you didn't read the story to the end, Armetta is reported to be a "silent partner" in a deal the City of Middletown made recently. Middletown accepted ownership of a to-be-drilled well in exchange for granting Kleen Energy and White Rock Holding rights to pump from a Connecticut River acquifer. If you forget the details of the deal or the council vote, this was published in the Courant the day after the vote:

The common council late Monday voted 7-3 to approve an agreement that will allow developers of a proposed power plant to draw more than 7 million gallons of water per day from the Connecticut River to cool the plant's turbines.

Two partnerships led by William Corvo needed the city's endorsement to help land a state permit to draw the water -- the key to proceeding with the $250 million power plant on a former feldspar mine in the Maromas area. The property is owned by developer Philip Armetta, a silent partner in the power-plant project.

In return for that support, Corvo's groups -- Kleen Energy LLC and White Rock Holding Associates -- proposed building a system of pumps and wells off River Road. The system, built at no cost to taxpayers, would draw water for the 620-megawatt electricity generation plant, and also provide the city with a potential back-up supply of drinking water.

This arrangement was initially proposed under the administration of former Mayor Domenique Thornton. Mayor Sebastian Giuliano was initially cool to the deal, but ultimately reached an agreement with Corvo that was announced July 18.

The water system would have an assessed value of about $13.2 million in real estate and contents in the first year and provide about $300,000 in annual taxes.

Councilman Ronald Klattenberg said the water project is a boon for the city and added that the natural-gas fired electricity plant would be a clean source of energy.

Councilman David Bauer opposed the water draw. And he said that a tax-break engineered four years ago for Kleen Energy's power plant is too sweet. The plant would pay $59 million in taxes over 25 years under the terms of the tax abatement; without it, the plant would pay nearly $270 million over that period, Bauer said.

"The `new revenue' is a mirage," Bauer said.

Middletown resident Shannon Brown said the public should have the opportunity to learn more about the deal.

"I'm not opposed to the water project. For all I know, it may be a terrific idea. I'm not supporting it, either. For all I know, it may be disastrous. The point is, the city has no rationale for accepting or rejecting this project," said Brown, adding that a recent workshop session before the council raised more questions than answers.

Completion of the power plant is still a couple of years away.

Not a single Council member questioned William Corvo about his "silent partner," at the council meeting. The DPUC also granted the partnership the rights to build the plant despite objections by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Why would the city and the state do a deal with a company who has a silent partner who pleaded guilty to such a crime ? I know, good question, right?

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