Ron Cunningham: No reset


Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

The problem with life is there aren't enough do-overs.

I'd really like a do-over on my 20s. I'm pretty sure I could get it right this time because, well, I know so much more now.

Alas, in the great game of Life, there's no reset button.

Which is why I had so much trouble watching the County Commission's Tuesday night marathon biomass meeting.

Oh, I tried.

I tried to hang in there as GRU director Bob Hunzinger and his staff gamely soldiered on through what felt like their millionth biomass briefing.

And I felt County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson's pain when he got fed up with the amount of clock Hunzinger and Co. were consuming.

Heck, I was watching at home, and even I could feel the raw impatience building up in that crowded meeting room downtown.

All those people with all their questions and accusations and conspiracy theories.

The last thing they wanted to do was sit through yet another GRU dog-and-pony show.

They mostly wanted to get up and use their allotted podium time to talk about why burning biomass is a really, really bad idea.

Like the yard sign says: "Biomass? No Thanks!"

Which is why I began to channel surf.

Because I don't think even Super WalMart sells a blue tarp big enough to throw over that gigantic, nearly-finished, 100-megawatt biomass plant out at Deerhaven.

Look, I don't doubt the sincerity or the determination of the folks who keep doggedly arguing that Gainesville is making a terrible mistake with biomass.

They may even be right. Alternative energy choices are certainly among the most debatable issues of our day.

I just wish they had been here hotly debating that issue three, four or even five years ago, when it might have made a difference.

Maybe I'm overlooking something obvious, but I don't see how we get a do-over on biomass.

The decision's been made. The contract's signed. Construction is nearly complete.

How does that plant not go online?

GREC isn't going to say "Oh, never mind."

The bankers and investors do not intend to write it off as a loss.

And I would be stunned if some judge out there is just waiting to rule that GRU's contract with GREC isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Assuming that we're not going to get a do-over on biomass, what we really need to be talking about is whether GRU is doing the all the right things to try to mitigate the (hopefully) short-term impact on ratepayers when the new plant comes online.

And, yes, there are people out there who are making the case that GRU is doing all the wrong things as it tries to manage the financial challenges of biomass.

It's a tough, complicated issue, and I appreciate the efforts of people, like Ray Washington, who are trying to get their arms around it.

The problem is that we're still hearing altogether too much rhetoric about the things GRU shouldn't have done, and not nearly enough ideas about what it ought to do from here on in.

Other than to not burn biomass.

Listen, if I could find that reset button, I'd be 20 again.

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