Help for ratepayers

EDITOR: Sonoma Clean Power as proposed has a simple business model: act as a legislatively assisted middleman in the electric power business. Current plans are to charge prices close to PG&E and use the profits to subsidize development of local and national renewable energy.

This well serves those who fervently want green energy and those who would profit from local projects. But how about the poor and cost-conscious ratepayers who would rather have lower electricity costs? Their preferences are not being considered. A major venture like this should benefit all county ratepayers, not just the well-positioned few.

The Sonoma Clean Power-sponsored survey showed that 59 percent of responding residents don't want to pay any or "much" more to further subsidize green power.

If our supervisors are serious about their statements that ratepayer costs are paramount, and the importance of ratepayer choice, Sonoma Clean Power should offer a "lower than PG&E cost" option for similar green content. This would make it a venture for all ratepayers, including the poor and cost conscious, build a broader customer base and move the benefits beyond the green power lobby. Otherwise, cost-conscious customers will have to opt out.


Santa Rosa

</>Fluoride debate

EDITOR: One would think, based on Lauren Ayers' Close to Home column ("Magical thinking about fluoridation in Sonoma County," Jan. 16) that the American Dental Association opposes fluoridation. However, it does not.

According to its website, "The American Dental Association unreservedly endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay. This support has been the Association's position since policy was first adopted in 1950."

If Ayers wants to present a credible argument against fluoridation — and there may be perfectly reasonable arguments — I suggest she use available facts and well-documented studies so that readers, such as myself, can do our own research to check her statements. In the 1950s, people argued that water fluoridation was a communist plot. In the end, that argument didn't convince people either.


Santa Rosa

Drakes Bay oysters

EDITOR: I have been following the articles about Drakes Bay Oyster Co. for the past few months. I find it to be distressing that the government can be so callous about the livelihood of all those involved with that company. Thirty-one people will lose their jobs, and that doesn't include all the infrastructure that supports that company.

It is not clear to me why they cannot farm oysters there as they have for all these years. Are they expelling pollutants into the estuary? Why can't business and nature exist side by side. I thought it ridiculous that the workers would be retrained. Retrained by whom, our government? I suppose they could be retrained to work at Starbucks. I also don't agree with the idea of having to import oysters from China or another country to supplement what we lose at Drakes Bay.

I think we should have a mindset that encourages business. I do not follow why we would close another business at the tail end of a recession.



Timber tax

EDITOR: This year, a timber tax went into effect in California, protecting timber companies and costing consumers. Assembly Bill 1492 requires consumers to pay a 1 percent tax on most wood products. The timber companies, however, pay nothing more.

This bill unfairly shifts the cost of regulating the timber industry from the companies to the consumers. In California, most major industries fund state regulations through fees. For the timber industry, multiple agencies are responsible for reviewing a company's timber harvest plan, which must be submitted before clear-cutting land. Due to state budget cuts, however, such regulation isn't always happening.

California needs more tax revenue to fund regulations, which should be generated by timber companies. In 2011, taxpayers spent $18.8 million on regulations, while the companies spent only $550,000 in fees. The new law only increases the cost individuals pay to fund timber regulation, failing to hold companies responsible for the financial contribution they should make.

We need to raise public awareness and ask for new legislation that protects taxpayers and replaces the damaging practice of clear-cutting with sustainable forest practices.