In your recent column in the Orange County Register (Reject Huntington desal myths), you purport to describe and refute several myths made by opponents to Poseidon Resources Inc., a multinational water privatization company that proposes to build a desalination plant roughly at the corner of Newland Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in the southeast portion of Huntington Beach, California.
Poseidon Resources and its supporters say the plant would provide a vital addition to the city’s water portfolio in response to the state’s alleged water shortage–a “green” and “drought free” source of drinking water provided to the citizens of Huntington Beach and Orange County at competitive rates.
Poseidon and its supporters have always claimed that its desalination plant would be built and operated purely as a privately run, non government-subsidized operation–all done at no risk to taxpayers–and the epitome of the free market.
But, in fact, documents which I have quoted at length in previous articles I wrote have shown that Poseidon is relying on public financing for the viability of both of its proposed southern California desalination plants.
Poseidon’s thirst for public funds has never been a secret.
Although former Poseidon representative Billy Owens tried to convince the Huntington Beach city council in 2006 that it was not seeking a government handout for its Carlsbad plant by saying that the money would only be for shipping water–all for the benefit of the people, not to help Poseidon in any way, everyone who closely followed the facts, including city council members, knew that there is no way Poseidon could offer water at $800 per acre-foot as promised without subsidies. Actually, the water it would produce in Huntington Beach will likely cost ratepayers between $2,000 and $3,000, as much as six times the cost of even imported water, but more about that later.
But despite the smokescreen, Poseidon has long been on record as requesting, if not demanding, government subsidies.
In fact, the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles County recently voted to provide a $350 million subsidy that, technically, goes to the San Diego Water Authority to help offset the increased costs of water, but which will directly benefit Poseidon and its Carlsbad plant by helping to make it cost effective and viable to investors. Poseidon’s officers pleaded desperately for that government handout because, they said, they could not finance their project without it–you can see them plead and whine on video at www.surfcityvoice.com).
As for the Huntington Beach plant, there is a Memo of Understanding between Poseidon and the Municipal Water District of Orange County confirming that, if the Huntington Beach project goes through, MWDOC will receive a $350 million subsidy to offset the higher costs of desalinated water Poseidon will produce. Poseidon Resources is also counting on that money, according to its own words in a letter to the California Coastal Commission, referred to in my article, Desal Bailout.
So, I was wondering where you came up with the bold statement that there will be no public financing of the Huntington Beach desalination plant?
What else would you call $350 million designated as part of Poseidon’s 30 year contract with MWDOC if not a government, taxpayer funded, handout to private enterprise?
And there very well could be much more public financing for each plant than that, but let’s start with your response to the $350 million grants.
To assist you in your future research, I have republished some articles I wrote previously on the financing issues regarding Poseidon. You can read them here:
In the coming days I will have other questions for you regarding other claims (or myths?) you created in your column.
I look forward to your response.
Surf City Voice