Smoke and Mirrors

8/2005
I think that the recycling of restaurant grease, as biodiesel, is a terrific idea for individuals here in Pacifica and elsewhere. But Iím not sure why the city of Pacifica should pay a consultant $20K to study the issues. Yes, Iíve heard that it will make our sewage treatment plant smell like a donut factory, but the diesels at the sewage treatment plant are EMERGENCY diesels and weíve heard promises about the smell of the sewage plant before. Letís not take the risk of a French fry getting caught in the fuel injector of one of our emergency diesels. They need to operate on an unpredictable schedule and they need to operate with near 100% reliability. Let someone else study the issues first. After everyone else has settled in on what might be a good idea, letís join them. If there is so much uncertainty that a $20K study is needed, let someone else spend the money and take the risk.

If we have to assess a special tax to maintain our fire department, we certainly canít afford to perform basic research, even if it is really fun and, better yet, politically correct. If we have the extra money, letís give it back to those who voted for the extra fire department tax that we didnít apparently need.

If we had an extra $20K, why donít we study why anyone would put a few hundred kilowatts of solar voltaics, $2.6 million worth, next to the ocean in the fog capital of the world. Yes, thatís what we as a city are doing. The Coastal Commission rejected our initial proposal and has given us a chance to reevaluate this decision. We should use this chance to do just that.

Both biodiesel and solar voltaics in the fog belt are currently hobbies for the elite, suitable only for special applications and enthusiasts. They show wonderful promise, but we shouldnít poison their chances by wildly exaggerating their possibilities. They might be a lot of fun, but the City should stick with the business of running the city.

Al Miller

Pedro Point