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Posts published in “Day: February 15, 2011”

Coal fired: The future of Centralia

col fired testimony
Coal fired testimony at House Environment/capture from TVW

The big hearing at Olympia today is centered on a subject of largest interest about 45 minutes south - at Centralia. But it's a very big deal in Centralia: There, among other things, it means jobs. The bill (House Bill 1825) calls for phasing out coal-fired plants - it sets up an institutionalized structure for it - in Washington, and the one significant one in Washington is at Centralia. There, Trans-Alta employs about 350 people.

The plant has been slated for operating generally as is through 2025, by which time it would transition from coal; the bill would considerably shorten that, to as early as 2015.

A number of them seem to have shown up at the House Environment Committee hearing on the bill, which was proposed by a group of mainly Seattle legislators (17 of them, including the Environment chair). A goodly number of backers were there too.

Politically, the majority Democratic constituencies were split: Environmental groups were among those in favor, but area labor unions were sharply critical. There were economic concerns (this could throw a block in the way of some electric power ramp-ups) and health concerns (climate change, and mercury emissions from the plant). The debate ranged from the industry's environmental record to the substantial environmental improvements at this particular (albeit older) plant. The league of Women Voters favored the bill; so did young mother who has asthma.

One interesting set of stats grew out of the suggestion by proponents that if coal fire production had to be phased out, the transition of the plant to other uses might generate nearly comparable numbers of jobs. But the point didn't seem to be explored in much depth during the hearing.

This could be among the more significant pieces of legislation this session. What will it mean economically? Maybe more discussion will follow.

Following the ed money

Another piece to consider when reviewing the details of how and why the education program offered this year from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna - a plan now being retooled - was submitted for prime time.

Often, it helps to check the personal ties and connections - who is being listened to, who is working with and talking with whom.

Consider this, a timeline developed by Boise writer Grove Koger:

1993 Thomas J. Wilford becomes President of Alscott
1995-2003 Wilford President of J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation
1999 VA-based K12 founded by former U.S. Secretary of Ed. Bill Bennett
1999-2001 Wilford a Director of Albertson's Inc.
2002 Idaho Virtual Academy created in cooperation with K12

Nov Wilford becomes a Director of K12
2003 Wilford becomes CEO of J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation
2004 Wilford becomes a Director of IDACORP
Wilford becomes a Director of Idaho Power, an IDACORP subsidiary
2005 J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation give grants to several charter schools, including Idaho Virtual Academy
2006 08/10 Maryland-based Connections Academy contributes $500 to Luna’s campaign
09/29 K12 donates $5,000 to Luna’s campaign
12/19 K12 donates $891.29 to help retire Luna’s Primary ’06 debt
12/19 K12 donates $4108.71 toward Luna’s Primary 2010 fund
2007 Wilford’s total compensation from K12 for 2007: $354
2008 Wilford’s total compensation from K12 for 2008: $28,578
2009 Wilford’s total compensation from K12 for 2009: $55,829
2010 04/30 TN-based Education Networks of America contributes $1,000 to Luna’s Campaign
05/11 PA-based Apangea Learning donates $1,000 to Luna’s campaign

07/02 Education Networks of America contributes $1,500 to Luna’s campaign

07/26 Wilford sells 5,000 shares of K12 stock; retains at least 3,041 shares Wilford donates $250 to Luna’s campaign

09/20 Apangea Learning donates $2,500 to Luna’s campaign

09/28 AZ-based Apollo Group donates $2,500 to Luna’s campaign

10/20 K12, whose curriculum is used by the Idaho Virtual Academy (largest Idaho online public charter school), donates $25,000 to Idahoans for Choice in Education. Almost immediately Idahoans for Choice gives $25,000 to Arizona firm for broadcast advertising and production in an independent campaign supporting Luna’s re-election

12/16 Wilford ceases to be a Director of K12; not clear whether he is still a stockholder. Wilford’s total compensation from K12 for 2010: $107,114
2011 01/29 J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation takes out ad in Idaho Statesman supporting Tom Luna’s education plan

When the Luna-Otter plan emerged seemingly out of nowhere a month ago, in other words, it didn't really emerge out of nowhere.