Do we really need the ACUA?

Do we really need the ACUA?
By SETH GROSSMAN, Political Columnist

(Reprinted from October 20, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic & Cape
May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….-the-acua.html)

“The Atlantic County Utilities Authority has been awarded approximately $1.9
million through the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition. . The ACUA submitted
applications for financial assistance through the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency Climate Showcase Communities Grant Program ($463,813 for
‘two compressed natural gas refuse collection trucks’ and one ‘CNG Honda
Civic’ plus $255,111 for two electric ‘Scion five-speed vehicles’ and four
outdoor plug-in outlets to recharge them).”

“The ACUA joined in a regional application for (federal) funding from the
Transportation Investment Generating Recovery Program.”

– Fall 2010 issue of the ACUA newspaper Atlantic County Recycles

The Atlantic County freeholders created the ACUA in the 1970s to build a new
sewage treatment plant in Atlantic City, and to build miles of pipelines to
collect sewage from all parts of the county and dump it three miles out at
sea.

In 1992 the ACUA got into the trash business when Atlantic County
freeholders let it borrow $82 million for an incinerator. It later built a
dump instead. The freeholders then gave the ACUA a monopoly on all trash and
recycling in the county so it would have enough cash to pay back the loan —
and hire lots of highly paid lawyers, employees and consultants.

Today, the main mission of the ACUA seems to be lobbying and applying for
“free” money from the federal government. The feds already spent a trillion
dollars a year more than they take in and are already $13 trillion in debt
— but that doesn’t bother folks at the ACUA.

Few people know or care about the ACUA. When the ACUA raises its trash
collection fees, every town pays for it with higher property taxes. But
because those tax hikes are hidden, most people blame their mayors, council
and township committee people, not the ACUA.

But last year folks in the western towns of Atlantic County did care. That
was when the ACUA said it could not make payments on its old 1992 loan
unless it forced these western towns to use its dump and pay higher fees.
The ACUA lobbied hard and got what it wanted, but only for a limited time.
Republican freeholders Jim Curcio and Joe McDevitt, and Democrat Jim
Schroeder insisted that the ACUA end its monopoly next year, when it finally
pays off the last of the $82 million loan from 1992.

When that debt is gone, Atlantic County freeholders for the first time in 20
years can give the ACUA a checkup from the neck up. Hopefully, they will
abolish it completely and have the elected county government run the sewer
system as another county department.

As for the trash business, neither the ACUA, county government, nor the
mafia should have a monopoly. Why not let private taxpaying companies and
government agencies out of Atlantic County do the job? Experience elsewhere
proves that fair competition gives homeowners and businesses lower prices
and better service.

We don’t need the ACUA for recycling either. If there is a real market for
recycled paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic, private companies are
far more efficient in collecting, sorting and reselling this stuff. And if
lots of this recycled stuff can’t be sold and is sitting in warehouses or
secretly dumped anyway, let’s be honest and not waste a fortune (and lots of
fossil fuels) to collect it in the first place.

And certainly, we don’t need the ACUA to use taxpayer money to lobby for
more “green” energy. The ACUA is dishonest every time it calls its five
Atlantic City windmills a “success.” Yes, the windmills save the ACUA
$500,000 each year on its own electric bill. That’s because the company that
owns the windmills charges the ACUA 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour rather than
the 13.5 cents charged by Atlantic City Electric.

Because of complex government requirements involving the sale and purchase
of renewable energy certificates, those windmills cost the rest of us about
$2.5 million each year in higher electric bills. Every electric company in
New Jersey is forced to pay the windmill owners about $650 every time those
windmills produce $60 worth of electricity.

ACUA officials are using the “success” of their windmills on land to demand
more windmills 20 miles out at sea — at more than three times the cost. If
that happens, Atlantic City Electric will pay more than $2,000 every time
ocean wind turbines produce $60 worth of electricity. Think of what that
will do to the electric bill for your home or business. And for every
school, casino and streetlight.

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 1400AM talk-radio 3-4 p.m.
Mondays and Tuesdays and on 92.1FM 9-10 a.m. Saturdays. For information see
www.libertyandprosperity.org, email grossman@snip.net or call (609) 927-7333.
Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore
Diner on Fire and Tilton Roads in Egg Harbor Township.

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