Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Former BP Executive Heads Tessera Solar

Here in the San Luis Valley and Saguache County, we like to do things the old fashioned way.  We like to shake our business partners hand, look them straight in the eye and get a direct reading on who they are and where they're coming from.  This in turn informs the level of confidence and trust we can expect going forward. 

Tessera Solar is financially controlled by an international developer [NTR plc] based in Dublin, Ireland so we're not likely to have the opportunity to do any hand shaking.  But we've been able to dig up a few pertinent facts about where some of the main players behind Tessera Solar are coming from. 

Robert Lukefahr, Chief Executive Officer for Tessera Solar North American (TSNA) was an executive for BP from 2005 to 2009.  BP is well-known for promoting a culture of risk and recklessness which culminated in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe.

BP Texas oil refinery gas explosion killed 15 people in 2005 (read story)
Lukefahr's former employer, BP is a major natural gas and wind developer in Colorado and has major production facilities in the Durango area as well as a processing facility near Denver.  

BP recently ran afoul of federal regulators when the Department of Interior levied a fine of more than $5.1 million against the company for false reporting of energy production on Southern Ute tribal lands in southwestern Colorado.

Richard Knox, Permitting Director for the TSNA San Luis Valley project has a history of permitting dirty energy.  In 2005, he was Project Manager for URS, the contractor for the Desert Rock Energy Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The 1,500 MW coal-fired plant on Navajo land in New Mexico has been held up due to a 5-year string of permitting problems and legal challenges.

Mike Eisenfeld, Staff Organizer for the San Juan Citizen Alliance, was involved with the lawsuit on DREP along with the Energy Minerals Law Center, the firm that represented San Luis Valley environmental groups on the Baca National Wildlife NEPA lawsuit. "It was a total hatchet job",  say's Eisenfeld, "these companies have no connection to a place, they come in with their 3rd party contractors and do their best to undermine the federal permitting process".

Eisenfeld ought to know.  He worked as an environmental consultant for more than a decade including a stint with Mike Fitzgerald, owner and program manager of Ecosphere Environmental Services, Tessera's 3rd party contractor for the Saguache County 1041 Application.  "These people have been working together for years," says Eisenfeld, "its not always about the best science, there are business factors that cloud determinations".

Say's Alliance member June Savage in a recent editorial in the Saguache Crescent:

"Why should we believe that a project the scale of [Tessera's] proposal would be free from cost-cutting shortcuts, inadequate inspection requirements, unnamed and unplanned for crises, not to mention a technology that would bring into question the challenge we started with - financial gain for the county?"

We think it's a good question.  The last chance the people of Saguache County have to ask this and other important questions of Tessera -- and the sole decision-makers, Commissioners Spearman, Pace and Joseph -- is the hearing at the Saguache County courthouse this Monday, Dec. 6th starting at 2 pm.  The public hearing is from 4-7 pm followed by a Commissioner meeting.   We hope to see you there.


Richard Knox said...

Mike Eisenfeld gave a very impassioned speech at the Ship Rock High School in winter 2004.

I have a lot of respect for Mike as in this speech he mentioned Peak Oil - and its ramifications. If you look in Chapter One of the final EIS for DREP you will note I edited in Mike's comment on Peak Oil. You will be hard pressed to find an EIS anywhere that mentions Peak Oil.

I have been following oil and oil supplies for almost a decade...it is real and it is here now - 2012 we dive off Hubbert's peak.

Then what folks?

Anyway - you really should rise above the fray and stop with the hit pieces Ceal.

Ceal Smith said...

Nobody is denying the problem, we are ready to move beyond the damaging old energy model that Tessera reflects and decentralize. Simple as that.