GUEST COLUMN: Mayor sets the record straight

Last Updated on April 19, 2015 by cassnetwork

Cass County Communication Network welcomes letters to the editor and guest columns. The following Guest Column was submitted by Ted Franklin, incumbent mayor of Logansport and Republican candidate for mayor, on April 17, 2015.
tedfranklin‘Tis the Season. Logansport will hold an election in 2015, and like many of you I enjoy the rough-and-tumble of the campaign season. However, some political adversaries of mine have been spreading misinformation about the City’s efforts to upgrade electrical power generation for Logansport. I want to update you on the facts.
One of the most sensational claims I have heard is that the City has spent $1.6 million on consultants for no reason. I would like you to remember that number, because I am going to return to it. First, we should review some history.
No More Kicking the Can Down the Road Logansport has owned and maintained its own power plant since the 1890’s. While we are proud of our heritage of electrical power generation for more than a century, there are disadvantages to postponing upgrades to a power plant like ours for long periods of time. Logansport added its last generator for everyday power output in 1962, and last added emergency back-up generators 45 years ago.
Currently the city power plant generates about 30 mega- watts (MW) per hour, down from an original capacity of 38.5 MW due to inefficiencies in our older equipment. This means we now generate less than half of the output demanded by our customers, with the rest of the power provided under the terms of a Purchase Power Agreement
between Logansport and Duke Energy.
Since the 1990’s, local leaders have considered several opportunities to sell the City’s power plant and purchase 100% of Logansport’s electricity from outside providers. These offers were declined, and the City continued with the status quo.
Three years before I became Mayor, in 2009, Logansport Municipal Utilities (LMU) engaged in an analysis of the City’s power plant to determine its long-term prospects to generate electricity in a clean, reliable manner and at a cost-effective rate. The one thing we knew for sure was that the Environmental Protection Agency would no longer allow us to continue to put off this extremely difficult decision.
Shortly after becoming Mayor in 2012, Logansport’s City Council and Utility Service Board authorized me to explore and pursue a way to improve and if possible, expand our ability to generate electricity in Logansport, while not creating debt for the City or LMU. We arrived at this bipartisan conclusion after studying other options such as closing the plant.
Goals for Logansport. In studying options for providing electrical power in Logansport, I believe there are several goals which should guide us. One of these goals is keeping the cost of electricity competitive, stable and predictable.
Doing so will give Logansport an advantage in drawing new jobs and families, while helping retain those who already make our fine City their home and base of business operations.
A second goal for Logansport is being a good steward of the environment. Whatever option we choose for energy production must enable us to leave a better Logansport for future generations. In addition, generating our needed electricity locally gives the City a measure of indepen dence not enjoyed by most other communities , and it saves local jobs. One seldom mentioned advantage to local electric generation is that it makes us l ess dependent on the increasingly unreliable national grid. Finding a way to have LMU generate this power cleanly, cheaply, and locally will represent a big win for Logansport.
Due Diligence Investigating and pursuing these options for the replacement of the coal fired generating plant has been very expensive, and this is where many of you have heard tales of Logansport wasting money under my leadership. These claims of reckless spending are false. All claims were approved unanimously in a bipartisan fashion by the Utility Service Board. Some of those USB members were selected to make these decisions by the previous Mayor and previous City Council. One adversary has already weakened our negotiating position by announcing that if elected, he would join the Indiana Municipal Power Agency. That decision alone would commit our rate payers to pay approximately $2.2 BILLION over the next 33 years. In terms that most could understand, $2.2 BILLION is 1,375 times more than $1.6 million.

Certainly $1.6 million is a great deal of money. However, we were wise to invest that money to get advice from experts in the field so that Logansport can secure the best outcome possible regarding a proposal that is 1,375 times more costly than the $1.6 million.
There is simply too much at stake for us NOT to invest both hard work and money in the study of our options and we absolutely have to get it right. Our decision to invest $1.6 million exploring a $2.2 BILLION proposition is the equivalent to a Logansport family about to purchase a new vehicle. The new car will cost the family an estimated $22,000. In this situation, doesn’t it make sense for the fam ily to spend about $16 in research to investigate options and make sure the car purchased is the best one to meet their needs?
The $16 is not wasted in this example, but rather used to help make an informed $22,000 decision related to the vehicle purchase. It is for this same reason that Logansport has paid the experts to guide us in making informed decisions regarding our options related to electric generation.
Efforts Continue.
We are currently working with a new group of investors to secure a power plant expansion that will allow Logansport to produce cleaner, competitively priced electric power while expanding the number of jobs at the LMU. These discussions have been fruitful, and I hope to announce details to you soon. I have briefed City leadership on these developments during executive sessions, most recently on March 31. It is too early to celebrate. It is also a big mistake to give up on these efforts to secure an investment partner for the upgrade and expansion of our LMU power plant.
Mayor Ted Franklin
City of Logansport, IN
*Editor’s Note: Ted Franklin is also a Republican candidate for Logansport Mayor.