Nefarious Plot Thwarted by Local News Man

Google news results sure get interesting in the heat of political games:
I found the top result a bit odd, to say the least, so I decided to look into Another Koch “goodie” to see what all the fuss was about:

While Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s so – called austerity, union busting budget is well know for its attempt to strip collective bargaining away from the state’s teachers [not true -ed.] , here is another BIG COST ISSUE that is sliding under the radar – this budget has power plant privatization schemes too, which could benefit Walker’s campaign donors like the Tea Party’s Koch brothers, the energy oligarchs of Kansas. But- The Kochs also own coal, timber, and pipeline businesses in WI.

No wonder the Koch “Americans For Prosperity” fueled up a website called “Stand With Walker” – Wisconsonites can see their own prosperity fleeing the state as their lower wages and paltry benefits now have to contend with higher prices for the energy sources they use !

No – bid contracts on state sales ! Sweet crude oil Cheeze Whiz !

I bet the Koch energy subsidiaries can’t wait to get their insulated rubber mittens on this deal !

My goodness. That sounds quite serious to me, and I certainly want to know more, don’t you? Well, I put on a pot of coffee and grabbed my extra-special fact checking hat to see if our little progressive friend, CanyonRat, here was on to something. It is times such as these that a good local and credible news source is invaluable, see Bob Collins, and I didn’t have to look very long as google results for “wi power plants” led me straight to this story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Thomas Content: Budget bill would allow sale of state power plants

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing changes that would allow the state to sell the power plants that heat and cool university campuses and prisons to a private company.

Now – please understand, Gentle Reader, I didn’t cherry pick this sentence. This is the first line of the story. Not quite as “under the radar” as CanyonRat said, apparently.  A few paragraphs down is more on the actual power plants:

The Department of Administration operates 37 heating, cooling and power plants, including 14 at University of Wisconsin campuses, 13 at Department of Corrections facilities, five at Department of Health Services facilities and five at other agency facilities.

What was it our little progressive friend CanyonRat said? “This budget has power plant privatization schemes too.” Well, so far, it does seem a highly limited number of university and prison power plants could be “privatized,” but I’m not seeing the state owning a plant serving private citizens, so um… I’m not sure how far this scheme can go. But while I was reading this I found another story from the same Mr. Content concerning this same story: State sale of heating plants questioned.

A provision to sell state-owned heating plants is getting another look this week as opponents of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill raise concerns about a “no-bid” clause in the legislation.

As I reported last week, the budget repair bill includes a provision that empowers the state Department of Administration to sell the plants – and the sale would not have to be reviewed by the state Public Service Commission.

The sale could take place with or without the solicitation of bids, according to an analysis of the bill by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee last week amended the provision to require that a cost-benefit analysis be done prior to a sale, and that any plant sale be submitted to the Joint Finance Committee for its review. But the panel left the “no-bid” language unchanged.

But what company would want to buy the plants?

Well, Koch wants to buy them – or so I was told by CanyonRat. This seemed a very odd thing for a news man to write, so I went back to his original article to read the rest of the piece:

several [sic] of the state-owned and managed power plants are under scrutiny because of their air pollution, raising a question about how marketable they may be.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency began an investigation to determine whether plants across the state at UW campuses and prisons were operating in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition, new air pollution standards being implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to result in the need to for older coal-fired power plants in the state and around the country to add pollution controls or transition to run on cleaner-burning natural gas.

One year ago, the Doyle administration concluded that five more state-run power plants were violating federal clean air regulations, bringing the total number of plants violating the Clean Air Act to eight.

Similar findings contributed to plans to stop burning coal at the Charter Street heating plant that serves the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Huh. The state of Wisconsin has polluting power plants they’re looking to sell. What was that our little progressive friend said? “I bet the Koch energy subsidiaries can’t wait to get their insulated rubber mittens on this deal !” Well, Mr. Content thought to check on that in response to this Kochspiracy theory:

“We have no interest in purchasing any of the state-owned power plants in Wisconsin and any allegations to the contrary are completely false,” Philip Ellender of Koch said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a dispute between public-sector unions and democratically elected officials over how best to serve the public interest. Unfortunately, there are those who would prefer to portray it as something else entirely.

I guess he thought to ask Koch since his report last week found a different potential “privatization” player:

The Madison utility Madison Gas & Electric Co. is a potential buyer of the plants, given it already operates energy facilities in downtown Madison and has jointly worked with the state on the natural gas-fired cogeneration facility built several years ago to serve the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Asked about the possible purchase of state-owned power plants in downtown Madison, MG&E spokesman Steve Kraus said, “The state is one of our largest customers and we’ve, of course, done a few projects with them. We’d like to keep that relationship working as they sort out how to best meet their energy needs.”

Now – I don’t know why such an easily debunked talking point should reach the top of the google news results except for the expression that a lie can get half-way around the world before the truth can get on its shoes. I don’t really appreciate the progressives putting me in the position to defend people I don’t particularly care to defend, but the evidence shows their talking point to be a complete distortion. It would serve the left better to debate the merits of their position instead of making up wild-eyed conspiracy theories. Why they don’t do so, I’ll leave for the reader to decide.

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