North Texas Daily

Locals not happy with renewable energy plan

Locals not happy with renewable energy plan

January 28
03:08 2016

Julia Falcon | Staff Writer

@falconpunch_

Nothing seems to get people debating in Denton quite like the oil and gas industry. On Saturday, 150 residents reminded leaders that Denton’s energy saga is not over, and any plans associated with the city’s proposed Denton Energy Center will be contested until the end.

More than a hundrend citizens filled city council chambers Saturday morning for a Q&A about the city’s proposed Renewable Energy Plan. So many people came, many had to stand in the back or sit on the floor. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

More than a hundrend citizens filled city council chambers Saturday morning for a Q&A about the city’s proposed Renewable Energy Plan. So many people came, many had to stand in the back or sit on the floor. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

A panel of Denton Municipal Electric employees took questions at the City Council chambers to respond to concerns associated with the city’s plan for its new energy center, which city leaders say will be built in the next three years. The idea is to increase the current use of renewable resources in Denton from 40 to 70 percent. The city hopes the plan will improve the environment, lower the cost of electric bills and save Denton millions of dollars. 

The nearly five hour panel was an open forum with residents who disagree with the recent overturn of the ban on hydraulic fracturing in Denton and want to do away with the building of the two new gas-fired plants replacing the coal-fired ones.

“Not long ago, Denton voted to ban fracking,” manager of external affairs for the City of Denton Brian Daskam said. “It was a short-lived ban, so we tried to provide a plan that would increase renewables, maintain rates and protect reliability, and the only way we could see to do it was to include natural gas plants which actually use less natural gas.”

Citizens line up by a microphone to voice concerns and ask questions about the new Renewable Energy Plan during a Q&A with experts and employees from the city. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

Citizens line up by a microphone to voice concerns and ask questions about the new Renewable Energy Plan during a Q&A with experts and employees from the city. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

But the political implications don’t stop there. People from the city’s energy activist wing have filed recall petitions to oust council members Kevin Roden and Joey Hawkins from their respective seats in District 1 and District 4 because of their decision to vote to repeal the city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.

When Denton resident Deborah Armintor stepped up to the mic, she said she informed those living nearby the proposed gas plants, letting them know what was happening because she claimed the city had failed to do so.

“Raise your hand if you live by either one of the gas plant locations,” Armintor said, and a large part of the crowd raised their hands. “Now, raise your hand if you received notification from Denton Muncipal Electric about the possibility of a gas plant being built by your home,” and no one raised their hand.

Stephen Johnson, with DME, said the city went above and beyond any legal or procedural requirements in its attempt to notify the public.

“Dozens of news outlets have published stories on this plan,” Johnson said. “We have held multiple meetings with the public. A postcard about the plan was sent to every one of our customers. It was promoted on social media, in the newspaper, on our website and on the project specific website.”

General manager of Denton Municipal Electric Phil Williams makes a face as a citizen voices his concern on bringing more gas plants to Denton. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

General manager of Denton Municipal Electric Phil Williams makes a face as a citizen voices his concern on bringing more gas plants to Denton. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor

With one proposed site being located south of Jim Christal Road and west of Western Boulevard, and the other north of Shepard Road and east of 2153, residents near these areas are concerned about the noise levels coming from the plants.

Mary Howard Davis, who works for Burns & McDonnell engineering company, answered a resident’s question about his concerns regarding how noise levels may affect a community center.

“There will be a slight increase in noise, if none at all,” Davis said. “We tested the maximum noise level at 45 decibels, and the existing noise level is almost 45. A loud air conditioner is 65 to 70 decibels, if that helps explain.”

Another local, Sharon Speise, said her biggest concerns are health issues, the tolls these plants will cost the environment and that DME has gone over its budget for everything.

“I don’t agree that they think most of the pollution is coming from the north and the south,” Speise said. “We have pollution here in Denton too, and I think they are using it as an scapegoat. I hope that the independent studies we ask for get done and the city council delays the vote, because there is a lot of one-sided information being given to us.”

Featured Image: A woman wears a sticker that reads, “Delay Plant Vote Independent Study Needed” at the Q&A Saturday. Many of the citizens in attendance wore the sticker. Kristen Watson | Visuals Editor 

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