Columns & Blogs » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor



Guise of the Geysers


P. Joseph Potocki brings to our attention ("Blowing Hot Air," July 9) the fact that "the largest green energy field in the United States is actually run by old-school oil interests." So he poses the obvious question: "Who's behind the steam at The Geysers?"

To answer this question, he offers:

Kenneth Derr. But he is no longer associated with Calpine or The Geysers, so he's not the "old-school oil interest" running The Geysers. Robert May, who was brought in to turn around the bankrupt Calpine, completed that task, and announced that he was leaving last March. Not him either.

That leaves David Leuschen, who's the founder of Riverstone Holdings. Riverstone is a partner in over 20 energy-related companies. Of the 20 companies, one is US Renewables. US Renewables is a partner in about 18 renewable energy companies. These are all either geothermal, biomass, biodiesel, or solar businesses. Of those 18 companies, one is Bottle Rock.

Bottle Rock owns a generating plant at The Geysers that was shut down in the '90s for lack of steam. Our wastewater now makes the steam, so it refurbished the power plant and sells the power to PG&E. So he must be that "old-school oil interest" who is running the Geysers that you speak of.

With Potocki's thorough analysis, we can clearly see how he arrived at his conclusion that The Geysers are "a tiny sub holding tied to trillions of international finance dollars, massive worldwide pollution, carbon energy, corporate rip-offs, juicy scandals, Third World oppression, neo-con and Republican Party politics, and even to the machinery of war."

Brilliant investigative reporting! Thanks for connecting all the dots for us, and giving the words "tied to" a whole new meaning. As the headline states, you are truly "Blowing Hot Air."

P.S. He forgot to mention that The Geysers were largely developed by Union Oil and Sacramento Municipal Utility District in the '60s and '70s. So this conspiracy of renewable energy from geothermal sources by the "old-school oil interests" goes back for years! If only J. D. Grant or Luther Burbank had an extra billion dollars, they could have developed The Geysers!

Charles Evans

Santa Rosa

 P. Joseph Potocki responds: Actually, (1) ex-Chevron chief Ken Derr, recently resigned from Calpine notwithstanding, wielded enormous influence over the firm for the past seven years. (2) Robert May remains, at this very moment, Calpine's CEO. (3) Carlyle/Riverstone and US Renewables are entirely separate entities. David Leuschen's energy investments are overwhelmingly carbon-based. (4) Bottle Rock is the name of the generating plant, not the name of its owners. (5) Your P.S. contends that I "forgot to mention" Union Oil and its role in developing the Geysers. Again, not true.

Next time you accuse an investigative reporter of blowing hot air, Mr. Evans, best to get your facts straight first.

You Should Care

Have you ever paid property taxes? Have you ever been to the Sonoma County Animal Shelter? Have you ever obtained a building permit? Have you ever been married or had a child in Sonoma County? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you have been directly served by a Sonoma County employee. Your civil servants in Sonoma County are working without a contract. The county is negotiating our new contract, but it is trying to take away what attracted us to our jobs in the first place—our affordable healthcare—by proposing to reduce the employer contribution to our healthcare from a percentage to a flat rate. For those with children, this could make our cost go from $200 per month, to over $1,400.

I realize many citizens don't care about our benefits, but you should. The county managers have recently received substantial raises, while the county wants to take from the workers. Call the Board of Supervisors and tell them you want us to have a fair and equitable contract, and that you aren't happy with them giving themselves thousands of dollars in raises! Help us so we can help you!

Tina Barry

Santa Rosa


Add a comment