Tag Archive for Northern California Power Agency

Project Labor Agreements at California Port Districts, Water Districts, Utility Districts, Airport Districts, Hospital Districts, Transportation Districts, Irrigation Districts, Housing Authorities, and Redevelopment Agencies

PORT DISTRICTS

Port of Oakland: “Vision 2000” Project Labor Agreement 1999, Maritime and Aviation Project Labor Agreement 2000, Maritime and Aviation Project Labor Agreement with Addendums 2004

Port of Long Beach (City of Long Beach Harbor Department): Middle Harbor Stages 1 & 2 Project Labor Agreement 2010Gerald Desmond Bridge Project Labor Agreement 2012, North Middle Harbor Project Labor Agreement 2012

Port of Los Angeles (City of Los Angeles Harbor Department): Seven individual projects: Port of Los Angeles Pier 400 Development Phase 2 Project Labor Agreement (2003), Berths 90-91 Cruise Terminal Baggage Handling Building (2005), 2006-2007 Site Improvements (2005), Berths 145-147 Wharf Improvements – Trapac Terminal (2008), Harry Bridges Boulevard Buffer Project (2008), Port of Los Angeles Cabrillo Way Marina Project (2008), and Berth 102 Wharf and Backland Improvements – China Shipping Terminal (2009). Then, City of Los Angeles Harbor Department (Port of Los Angeles) Project Labor Agreement Capital Improvement Program 2011

WATER DISTRICTS

Costa Costa Water District: Los Vaqueros Conveyance Facilities Project Labor Agreement 1994, Bollman Water Treatment Plant Project Labor Agreement 1995, Multi-Purpose Pipeline Project 2000, Brentwood Water Treatment Plant Project Labor Agreement 2005, Alternative Intake Project 2007, Los Vaqueros Dam Expansion 2010

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Water System Improvement Program Project Labor Agreement 2007

Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Project Labor Agreement 2011

Central Basin Municipal Water District Project Labor Agreement 2012

Water Replenishment District of Southern California Project Labor Agreement Resolution 2008

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: Eastside Reservoir Project Labor Agreement 1994, Inland Feeder Project Labor Agreement 1996Skinner Filtration Plant, San Diego Pipeline 6, Recreational Facilities Project Labor Agreement 2003

San Diego County Water Authority Emergency Storage Project Labor Agreement 1999

MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICTS

Northern California Power Agency Lodi Energy Center Project Labor Agreement 2009

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD): Carson Ice-Gen Plant Project Labor Agreement 1993, Proctor & Gamble Cogen Project Labor Agreement 1995, Campbell Soup Cogeneration Plant 1996, Cosumnes Power Plant Project Labor Agreement as of 2005, East Campus Operations Center Project Labor Agreement 2010, Solano Phase 3 Wind Project Project Labor Agreement 2010

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Valley Generating Station 2001

City of Santa Clara Pico Power Project 2003

City of Burbank Magnolia Power Project 2003

City of Pasadena Glenarm Power Plant Units 3 and 4 Project Labor Agreement 2003

City of Vernon Malburg Generating Station 2003

City of Roseville (Roseville Electric) Energy Park Project Labor Agreement 2004

Canyon Power Project (in Anaheim) Southern California Public Power Authority Project Labor Agreement 2009

City of Palmdale Solar Hybrid Power Plant Project Labor Agreement 2009

AIRPORT DISTRICTS

San Francisco Airport Commission: Master Plan Project Labor Agreement 1996Master Plan Project Labor Agreement still in effect as of 2007

Los Angeles World Airports Project Labor Agreement 1999 Extension 2011

(Note: San Jose International Airport Master Plan Project Labor Agreement 2002 was approved by the San Jose City Council – not the Airport Commission, which has an advisory role – and is therefore classified under Project Labor Agreements at California Cities for Individual Projects.)

HOSPITAL DISTRICTS

El Camino Hospital District Project Labor Agreement 2006

TRANSPORTATION and TRANSIT DISTRICTS

Sacramento Regional Transit District South Corridor Phase 1 Project Labor Agreement 1998

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District: Oakland Airport Connector Project Labor Agreement 2009, eBART East Contra Costa Extension Project Labor Agreement 2011

Metropolitan Transportation Commission Bay Area Headquarters Authority Project Labor Agreement 2012

Transbay Joint Powers Authority Transbay Transit Center Project Labor Agreement 2011

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension Project Labor Agreement 2011

Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District Judy K. Souza Operations Facility, Parking Structure, and Related Site Conditions Project Labor Agreement 2012

Exposition Metro Line (Expo Line) Construction Authority Phase 2 Project Labor Agreement 2011

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Measure R and Other Capital Improvements Project Labor Agreement 2012

IRRIGATION DISTRICTS

Kings River Conservation District Peaking Plant Project Labor Agreement 2004

Imperial Irrigation District: Imperial Irrigation District Niland Gas Turbine Plant Project Labor Agreement 2006, El Centro Generating Station Unit 3 Project Labor Agreement 2007

HOUSING AUTHORITIES 

San Francisco Housing Authority 1994 Revised 1996

REDEVELOPMENT AGENCIES

Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Project Labor Agreement 2008

www.PublicCEO.com Exposes Empty Promises of Helmets to Hardhats Program Under Project Labor Agreement in Northern California

The union-affiliated Helmets to Hardhats program meant to give returning veterans an entry into the construction trades sounds like a worthy project. But it’s hard not to be cynical about its purpose in practice: to give politicians cover when voting to require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions to work on taxpayer-funded construction.

Construction trade unions routinely claim that local governments can enhance the employment of military veterans by requiring their construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions that includes a Helmets to Hardhats provision. Is this claim valid? Do unions ever meet their contractual obligations under this provision?

On October 24, 2012, www.PublicCEO.com had the courage to expose the empty promises from construction union lobbyists about the unions’ Helmets to Hardhats program in the context of Project Labor Agreements. See Lodi Energy Center Helmets-To-Hardhats Program Falls Flat.

The web site of www.PublicCEO.com states that it “seeks to provide the tools for local government employees to succeed – including information on the best practices around the state and inventive governance procedures and trends.” Helmets to Hardhats is clearly NOT a best practice justifying a Project Labor Agreement.

Cited by www.PublicCEO.com was the performance of the Helmets to Hardhats program associated with the Project Labor Agreement signed by the Northern California Power Agency (a conglomerate of publicly-owned utilities) for construction of the Lodi Energy Center. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Included in the project labor agreement adopted at the outset of the project was a helmets-to-hardhats program. As outlined in section 15.1 of the project labor agreement, the Northern California Power Agency and its employers would use a center to recruit, evaluate, train, and employ veterans of the military to work on the project.

That provision and its results were omitted from announcements, press releases, and materials relating to the project. In a series of emails reviewed by PublicCEO, those in charge of the project were unable to verify a single helmet-to-hardhat hire.

It’s hard not to be cyncial when reading the documentation from the Northern California Power Agency showing their abandoned attempt to brag in a press release about the performance of the Helmets to Hardhats program on the Lodi Energy Center:

Lodi Energy Center Project Labor Agreement – Helmets to Hardhats TOTAL Failure

But sometimes the truth doesn’t matter. The City of Lodi continued to tout Helmets to Hardhats (with taxpayer funded publications mailed to utility customers!) as a success even after the Northern California Power Agency learned in 2011 that the program was a total failure:

Lodi Utility Mail Piece Gives Ratepayers False Information about Helmets to Hardhats Program in Project Labor Agreement for Lodi Energy Center – Summer 2012

I first saw Helmets to Hardhats in 2005 in a proposed Project Labor Agreement for a wastewater treatment plant at the San Diego County Water Authority. It was included in a revised Project Labor Agreement proposed (and ultimately implemented) in 2007 for Solano County and the Project Labor Agreement proposed (and ultimately implemented) in 2008 for the College of Marin. Now it is commonly referenced in Project Labor Agreements and routinely praised by union lobbyists and their political sycophants.

What is Helmets to Hardhats?

According to the “Frequently Asked Questions” of the web site for Helmets to Hardhats, the program is “dedicated to helping National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members connect to quality career and training opportunities in one of America’s most challenging and rewarding industries – the construction industry.”

The web site notes that Helmets to Hardhats is NOT a training program; in fact, it is vague about what Helmets to Hardhats actually does:

Most experienced job seekers understand that utilizing personal networks (networking) is a much more effective way of securing a quality career than simply looking online or going through newspaper ads. Although H2H is a Web-based program that requires online registration and provides career postings, what sets it apart from other initiatives is that H2H employees, and the dedicated volunteers that work with us, take an active role in connecting veterans to outstanding career and training opportunities. At the end of the day, having an informed advocate on your side who knows where you need to go, who you need to talk and can help facilitate the hiring process makes all the difference in the world to serious job seekers interested in securing a rewarding career in construction.

It also says the following:

H2H makes the connection between the career providers and the candidates that apply for their career opportunities. Some of the listings on the H2H Web site are for apprenticeship training opportunities and others are for careers with public and private employers.

Presumably staff of the Helmets to Hardhats program helps the on-line applicant get referred to the local union of a construction trade. That worker may be “indentured” into the applicable union apprenticeship program, pay initiation fees and some dues, and then begin classroom training while getting dispatched to job sites for on-the-job training.

Essentially, the program is a recruitment operation for construction trade unions, in which the initiative for employment rests with the individual seeking work.

Additionally, the web site indicates that the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment (CMRAVE) administers the Helmets to Hardhats program. It is a “non-profit Section 501(c)(3) joint labor-management committee established under Section 302(c)(9) of the Labor Management Relations Act. Funding and support come from private foundations, employers, employer associations and unions.”

Here are the Form 990s submitted by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment to the IRS for 2008, 2009, and 2010:

Helmets to Hardhats 2010 Form 990

Helmets to Hardhats 2009 Form 990

Helmets to Hardhats 2008 Form 990

Apparently this organization is getting significant government grants. In addition, Section 302(c)(9) of the Labor Management Relations Act allows employers and employer associations to make payments to a committee established under the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978. In other words, the operations of Helmets to Hardhats may also be funded in part through employer payments mandated in Master Labor Agreements (collective bargaining agreements) negotiated between an employer or group of employers and a union.


Here are links to primary source documentation about the Northern California Power Agency’s Project Labor Agreement for the Lodi Energy Center, featuring the failed Helmets to Hardhats provision:

1. Northern California Power Agency’s Project Labor Agreement for the Lodi Energy Center

2. Northern California Power Agency’s $90,000 Payoff to the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust – Contract and Proof of Payment (For an idea of where this $90,000 went, see Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It.)

3. Let’s Tell the Public There’s Local Hiring: Someone Said Local Hiring Was Happening

4. They hate us! They really, really hate us!

5. Why did union officials speak in support of the Project Labor Agreement at the November 2, 2009 meeting of the Northern California Power Agency commissioners? The Northern California Power Agency management staff told them to show up!

Feds Need Better Oversight of Labor-Management Cooperation Committees, Such as the Union Slush Fund that Spent $1.1 Million in the June 2012 Election in the City of San Diego

An August 27, 2012 article on the Investigative Newsource – Southern California web site contains the latest fleeting news reference to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Trust. The last two paragraphs of “Outside Donors Fuel Prop. Opponents, Fund Mayoral Hopefuls” states the following about Proposition A campaign in the City of San Diego for the June 6, 2012 election:

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust, a nonprofit located in Sacramento that promotes and protects project labor agreements around the state, donated more than $1 million to try unsuccessfully to defeat Prop. A, which banned project labor agreements. The agreements set some of the terms of employment, such as wage rates, on construction projects.

The Trust gets much of its money from laborers themselves. Clauses in some project labor agreements dictate that a portion of money per hour worked goes to the Trust.

The same Investigative Newsource was alone among news media groups in highlighting the extensive campaign involvement of this obscure organization before the June 6, 2012 election. From the May 25, 2012 article “Business Groups, Builders and Labor Battle over Propositions:”

All of the money for the one of the committees opposing Proposition A has come from the same donor.

Since March 18, the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust donated $675,000 to Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust is a tax-exempt Sacramento-based organization, which says its mission is, among other things, to “improve public awareness of the benefit of using organized labor contractors and workers.” The group is not required by the IRS to list specific sources of funding, but in general, it reported on its 2010 tax returns collecting $678,000 in membership dues. It reported more than $3 million in assets.

And the trust fund is also cited in the June 1, 2012 Investigative Newsource article “Fundraising Amps Up for Proposition A, B Committees:”

In the past week, a union trust gave an additional $320,000 into defeating Proposition A, a ballot measure that would ban project labor agreements for San Diego city projects if passed.

That brings to $1.18 million the amount raised by the anti-Prop. A forces, far outpacing the business interests pushing Proposition A. That committee, Fair and Open Competition, has raised $755,000 so far.

Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs — an anti-Prop. A committee — has benefited mainly from the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust. The trust is responsible for more than 90 percent of its donations.

The labor trust is “heavily involved” with promoting and protecting project labor agreements (PLAs) around the state, according to secretary/treasurer Scott Strawbridge. A PLA is a type of collective bargaining agreement that a city can enter into with workers for city projects.

“We think (PLAs) are good business for our contractors and union members,” Strawbridge said.

A big part of the money in the trust comes from laborers themselves, he said. Clauses in certain PLAs specify that a small amount of money per hour worked goes into the trust.

The San Diego Union-Tribune briefly and generally mentioned the fund after the election, in the June 7, 2012 article “Impact of Proposition A on State Funds in Dispute:”

The major backer of the No on A campaign was a Sacramento-based group headed by Robert Balgenorth, the president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, a statewide union, which donated $1.1 million to stop it from passing.

This brief public reference was enough to provoke Scott Strawbridge (cited in the Investigative Newsource article above) to defend the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust publicly with an opinion piece in the Union-Tribune. (“In Response: Prop. A Put San Diego Citizens in Difficult Position,” June 22, 2012)

In doing so, he provided a public service in highlighting the unregulated slush fund that spent $1,095,000 to oppose Proposition A, a fair and open competition ordinance approved by 58% of San Diego voters on June 5.

This mysterious, Sacramento-based California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust is authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter.

The law lists specific purposes for these trusts: “improving labor-management relationships, job security, organizational effectiveness, enhancing economic development or involving workers in decisions affecting their jobs including improving communication with respect to subjects of mutual interest and concern.” And many trusts operating under this law do just that.

Nevertheless, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust circumvents these purposes without consequence.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service hasn’t implemented regulations to monitor or limit how such trusts operate. And these trusts don’t have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards.

Who wouldn’t enjoy having a slush fund with minimal oversight and controls?

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust recently gave $100,000 to the Apollo Alliance, $250,000 to a campaign committee opposing reforms to state eminent domain laws, and $770,000 to the biased California Construction Academy of the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program. It also gave $164,550 to “Other.”

How does the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust get its money? Do people contribute to it through the goodness of their hearts?

Actually, owners of proposed power plants (and their construction contractors) fund it when they sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that require payments to it.

Power plant owners don’t sign these union agreements because they want union monopolies on construction or appreciate the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust.

Instead, they sign them to discourage California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) from exploiting environmental laws to interfere with approval of their proposed power plants at the California Energy Commission and other government agencies.

It’s a tangled conspiracy. Especially intriguing is that one union official is the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, and California Unions for Reliable Energy.

Another interesting angle: when publicly-owned utilities sign these Project Labor Agreements, their electric customers ultimately fund the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust through their bills.

Senate Bill 790 – signed into law by Governor Jerrry Brown in 2011 – allows publicly-owned utilities to pass through to ratepayers the cost of payments to trusts authorized by the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978.

In its annual Form 990 statements to the IRS, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust classifies its receipts as “membership dues.” How do “members” such as the Northern California Power Agency and the Southern California Public Power Authority decide to contribute $1,095,000 to the No on A campaign in the City of San Diego?

It’s time to stop these abuses. If Mitt Romney is elected President, his appointees to oversee the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the Office of Labor Management Standards need to implement reasonable regulations for trusts authorized under the Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978.

Lodi Energy Center Dedicated Today – Official Press Release Doesn’t Mention the Project Labor Agreement or California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE)

UPDATE: Some good news for ratepayers: the reporter for the Stockton Record newspaper was willing to evaluate the Lodi Energy Center beyond the orchestrated perspective of the Northern California Power Agency and its public relations firm Ziegler Associates. Here’s an excerpt from Staying Power: State-of-the-Art Clean Energy Behemoth Dedicated in Lodi – Stockton Record – August 11, 2011:

The project was not without its controversies. Some questioned whether construction workers were hired locally as contract guidelines required. A labor group that represents nonunion construction companies also was outspoken in criticizing a project labor agreement the NCPA entered into with union affiliates, which included a $90,000 payment from the power agency to a union group fund.

[note: hyperlinks added by me]

Officials on Friday denied those assertions, saying the Lodi Energy Center employed 80 percent of its construction workers locally and hired soldiers who returned from war.

“These union agreements would cut bid competition, raise costs, and prevent ratepayers from getting the best quality construction at the best price,” said Kevin Dayton, a former representative of the NCPA foe, Associated Builders and Contractors.

Dayton and his colleagues made little to no impact on the construction of the project, however. And, those who were key figures in building the plant maintain that the NCPA and the state are better off for it.

Meanwhile, the Lodi News-Sentinel’s August 11, 2011 article Local Officials Dedicate Cutting-Edge Lodi Energy Center fulfilled expectations with an article that only had positive things to say about the power plant, complete with with a quotation from Bob Balgenorth, head of the State Building and Construction and Trades Council of California:

“When this plant got started, we were in the depths of the depression in the construction industry. We had people who had been out of work for two or three years. This put 300 people from this area to work. … People who were now able to pay their rent, make their house payment if they still had one, put food on the table and send their kids to school and provide clean, efficient energy for the state of California.”

— Robert Balgenorth, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California

The article neglects to mention there was a government-mandated requirement for those 300 people: as stated in the Project Labor Agreement, “all Covered Work will be performed by workers who are union members,” “All employees performing Covered Work shall be or shall become and then remain members in good standing of the appropriate Union as a condition of employment,” and (to make sure it’s clear) “The Unions shall be the source of all craft employees for Covered Work for the Project.”

Nor does the article mention the $90,000 check that the Northern California Power Agency sent via Fed-Ex to Bob Balgenorth on August 17, 2010.


Today (August 10, 2012), the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) issued its press release describing the dedication of the Lodi Energy Center. (See text below).

This 300 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant was built under a Project Labor Agreement demanded by California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE), as I described in my August 9, 2012 web post “Excluded! I’m Not One of the 300 Guests Invited by the Northern California Power Agency to Attend the August 10, 2012 Dedication of the Lodi Energy Center Power Plant.”

The August 8, 2012 media advisory from the Northern California Power Agency had reported that one of the speakers at the dedication would be “Bob Balgenorth, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.” But his remarks weren’t included in the August 10, 2012 press release describing the event itself.

Today’s press release refers to “hundreds of high-paying jobs for Central Valley workers,” which would have happened even if contractors were NOT required to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. In fact, one of the non-union industrial contractors planning to bid on it before the NCPA commissioners imposed a Project Labor Agreement on it was even based in Lodi.

The press release neglects to directly reference the Project Labor Agreement or the magnanimous cooperation of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

Here are some examples of earlier power plant groundbreakings and dedications:

Sutter Power Plant Dedicated – August 17, 2001 – “SBCTC President Bob Balgenorth was one of the speakers at the dedication. He praised the union members who made this project possible, and also spoke of the improving relationship with Calpine for the construction of power plants in California. PLAs have been negotiated for six plants with Calpine to date, and talks are in process for other work.”

Groundbreaking & Signing Ceremony: Niland Gas Turbine Plant – April 20, 2007 – “As Chair of California Unions for Reliable Energy and President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, I want to acknowledge my appreciation to the members of the management team and the Board of IID. During the negotiations on the Project Labor Agreement, the leadership of the Imperial Irrigation District demonstrated that they have a vision for the future of the Imperial Valley.”
 
Below is the text of the press release.

From: Energy Commission [mailto:listenergia@listserver.energy.ca.gov]

Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 1:23 PM

To: LODI@LISTSERVER.ENERGY.CA.GOV

Subject: LODI-LIST: State, Local Agencies Come Together to Dedicate State-of-the-Art Lodi Energy Center

 

For Immediate Release:

August 10, 2012

 

Contact:

Friday, August 10: Carri Ziegler or Corinne Chee

916-502-1131 (c) | carri@zieglerassociates.net

916-341-0472 (o)

916-508-1611 (c) | corinne@zieglerassociates.net

 

After Friday, August 10: Jane Cirrincione

916-781-4203 | jane.cirrincione@ncpa.com

 

Media Contact for California Energy Commission:

Amy Morgan 916-654-4989

 

State, Local Agencies Come Together to Dedicate State-of-the-Art Lodi Energy Center Natural Gas-Fired Power Plant is the Cleanest of its Kind

(Lodi, Calif.) – State and local elected officials today joined with the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) in celebrating the completion of the 300-megawatt Lodi Energy Center (LEC), the cleanest and most efficient combined-cycle natural gas-fueled power plant in the State of California, if not the nation.

As the owner and operator of the LEC, NCPA partnered with 13 public power utilities and other agencies to construct the $388 million project in Lodi during the past two years.  When it comes online next month, the facility will serve millions of Californians by providing electricity to several participating municipal utility communities, BART and the California Department of Water Resources. 

“LEC is the future of clean, reliable energy, not just for the individual communities and agencies represented here today, but for the entire state of California,” said NCPA General Manager James H. Pope during today’s dedication ceremony. “This facility will come online quickly, burn less fuel and produce fewer emissions.”

Nine of NCPA’s 16 members, along with four other public entities, are sharing in LEC’s investment and benefits. The City of Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power is a major participant in the LEC with a 25 percent share of the project. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) will use its portion of LEC’s output to help power its transit system trains, Pope said. The Modesto Irrigation District and the municipal utilities serving Lodi, Gridley, Ukiah, Healdsburg, Biggs, Lompoc, and Azusa will receive LEC energy, along with the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, and the Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority.

What makes the LEC unlike any natural gas-fueled generation facility in operation today is the “fast-start” turbine at the heart of the plant, Pope said. This state-of-the-art Flex-Plant 30 combined cycle technology, designed and built by Siemens, A.G., provides a number of economic and environmental advantages over traditional natural gas-fueled plants. 

Since most conventional plant emissions occur during start-up, the LEC’s ability to significantly reduce the amount of time needed, up to 50 percent less than other units, to bring the facility up to full generating capacity increases overall efficiency and dramatically reduces emissions, Pope said. Overall, greenhouse gas emissions are being cut by 30 percent, compared to traditional combined-cycle plants.

Another important advantage of the LEC’s cutting-edge technology is its ability to rapidly ramp production up and down to match market conditions. LEC participants will be able to quickly respond to changing consumer power demand, reducing overall costs to the consumer.

The operating flexibility of the new LEC also will facilitate greater use of renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar resources, which have been more difficult to integrate into California’s energy resources because of their weather-dependent nature. This flexibility will allow the LEC to serve as a reliable back-up when changing weather conditions reduce electrical output.

“This innovative fast-ramping, gas-fired plant was specifically designed by Siemens as a solution to balance fluctuations on diverse power grids managing both renewable and traditional energy sources,” said Mario Azar, President of Energy Solutions Americas for Siemens. “Its clean footprint and versatility makes it an ideal solution to the growing need for stable and environmentally friendly power sources in the U.S. and around the globe. We are proud to be introducing this groundbreaking technology in partnership with NCPA.”

“The Lodi Energy Center will provide grid reliability to the Central Valley, while integrating renewable resources,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “This is the future for fast-start gas-fired combined cycle power plants in the country.”

Santa Clara City Councilman Pat Kolstad agreed. “California has set very ambitious carbon reduction and renewable energy goals,” said Kolstad, referring to the landmark 2006 climate change act, and 2011’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard requirement. “Our participation in LEC will help ensure that my community will continue to lead the way toward a cleaner, greener energy future for California.”

Steve Berberich, president and chief executive officer of the California Independent System Operator, also praised the LEC for the contribution it will make toward maintaining grid reliability as intermittent energy resources continue to make up a larger percentage of the state’s energy portfolio.

“The Lodi Energy Center’s cutting edge technology will help strengthen electrical system reliability as variable renewable resources continue to be deployed,” Berberich said.

During the more than two years it was under construction, the LEC created hundreds of high-paying jobs for Central Valley workers. At its peak, more than 300 skilled laborers, tradesmen and managers worked full time at the LEC site, located just west of Interstate 5 in southwest Lodi.

At any time during construction, a minimum of 80 percent of LEC workers resided within 50 miles of the Lodi area, ensuring that the local area economy directly benefited from the project’s construction. The focus on local employment was a key part of the appeal of the LEC project, both for NCPA and for the City of Lodi.

“NCPA’s emphasis on hiring local workers to build the LEC has produced tremendous benefits for the Lodi-area economy, both in terms of creating a significant number of high-quality local jobs and providing a reliable and affordable source of electricity for the state,” said Assembly member Alyson Huber, whose district includes the Lodi area.

Beyond the creation of jobs and the multiplier effect those jobs have on the local economy, the LEC will continue to provide economic benefits to Lodi as well.

Since LEC will only use reclaimed water in its steam generating and power plant cooling systems, NCPA has partnered with Lodi to purchase wastewater from the White Slough Water Pollution Control Facility, turning a water disposal liability into a valuable local economic asset.  In addition, sales tax on the generating equipment and a multi-decade lease for city-owned land, on which LEC is sited, will generate substantial additional revenue for Lodi.

“The Lodi Energy Center is providing tremendous benefits that reach far beyond providing an affordable and reliable energy supply for the ratepayers of the City of Lodi,” said Lodi City Councilman and NCPA Commissioner Larry Hansen. “The positive impacts will continue to be felt for years throughout our community and the state.”

The ultimate beneficiaries of the LEC, noted Healdsburg Mayor and NCPA Commission Chairman Gary Plass, are the residents of the communities that will be served by the facility.

“It’s been very gratifying,” he said, “to be associated with a project that will directly benefit my community. For my community as well as others associated with LEC consumers, keeping electricity rates affordable for our residential and business customers, while at the same time maintaining our excellent record of environmental leadership, has always been our goal.”

Lodi Energy Center Project Participants

The City of Azusa, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the City of Biggs, California Department of Water Resources (CDWR), the City of Gridley, the City of Healdsburg, the City of Lodi, the City of Lompoc, Modesto Irrigation District (MID), Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC), the Power and Water Resources Pooling Agency (PWRPA), Silicon Valley Power (The City of Santa Clara), and the City of Ukiah.

About Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) The Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) is a joint-action agency serving public power entities located throughout Northern and Central California, including municipal and cooperatively-owned utilities and special districts. NCPA has built, and currently owns and operates, a portfolio of electricity generation resources that is 95 percent carbon-emission free. Drawing upon NCPA’s diverse mix of resources, our members collectively serve 750,000 California electricity consumers with a 20 percent eligible renewable resource portfolio.

###

Excluded! I’m Not One of the 300 Guests Invited by the Northern California Power Agency to Attend the August 10, 2012 Dedication of the Lodi Energy Center Power Plant

The Northern California Power Agency’s Lodi Energy Center under construction on July 26, 2011. Notice the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union banner on the left side.

The Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) did not include me among the 300 important people invited to the dedication tomorrow (August 10, 2012) of its new Lodi Energy Center power plant. It’s going to be a celebration, and party-poopers aren’t wanted.

They never liked me anyway. As the NCPA’s State Government Relations Representative wrote in an October 21, 2009 email to another NCPA executive about my former employer, Associated Builders and Contractors: “Associated Builders and Contractors is a right-wing anti-union, anti-regulation trade group…they really must miss Bush.”

Actually, Associated Builders and Contractors supports fair and open competition, freedom of choice for workers concerning their union affiliation and training programs, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, reasonable regulation, and getting the best quality work at the best price for taxpayers and ratepayers.

These people detested Associated Builders and Contractors because we did our research on this obscure conglomerate of publicly-owned utilities. We tried to make it accountable to electricity ratepayers for surrendering to California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and signing a Project Labor Agreement (see it here, and its side letter here) to build the Lodi Energy Center power plant and a Maintenance Labor Agreement (see it here) to give unions a 30-year monopoly on maintenance contract work.

ABC and its allies were able to force the Northern California Power Agency to reconvene its Board of Commissioners in a special conference call meeting to have a re-vote on the Project Labor Agreement. (See below for a summary of what happened.)

We were able to cut the NCPA’s payment to the union-affiliated slush fund from $150,000 to $90,000. (See Section 13.1 of the original rejected Project Labor Agreement and Section 13.1 of the revised approved Project Labor Agreement.)

Then we exposed the lack of documentation concerning claims about local hiring of construction workers and exposed the utter and complete failure of the Helmets to Hardhats commitment in the Project Labor Agreement, even as the Northern California Power Agency was bragging about these achievements in press releases.

Finally, we exposed how the Northern California Power Agency signed a Project Labor Agreement that included a $90,000 payoff to a union-affiliated slush fund called the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Committee. The head of that committee is also the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the head of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE). To see how the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Committee spends its money on politics and propaganda, read my May 31, 2012 post, “Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It.”

I’m sure the NCPA staff and its outside public relations consultants will make sure ratepayers only hear the sunny side of the story on August 10, 2012. They’ll probably invite representatives of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) to speak, just like they asked them to speak against us at the November 2, 2009 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.


Union Extortion Succeeds in Second Vote: Northern California Power Agency Approves Union Agreements for Lodi Power Plant – November 2, 2009

Second time is the charm for the union-funded environmental extortionist organization California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).  At a specially-convened meeting in Roseville on November 2, the 20 commissioners of the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) voted 9-2 with four abstentions and five absences to approve a costly and discriminatory Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and Maintenance Labor Agreement for the proposed Lodi Energy Center power plant.

The union agreements were rejected at a commissioners meeting on October 23 on a 3-3 vote with five abstentions and nine absences.  The chairman of the NCPA commissioners, Lodi Mayor Larry Hansen, then brought the union agreements up again for a second vote after NCPA staff determined that there was not a quorum for the first vote.

Two commissioners representing the City of Lompoc and the City of Healdsburg changed their votes from NO at the October 23 meeting to YES at the November 2 meeting.  Commissioners from the City of Ukiah and the Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority voted NO at the November 2 meeting.

The Project Labor Agreement includes a $90,000 direct and immediate payment to a union trust fund used by the State Building and Construction Trades for political purposes.

Four contractor association representatives and four industrial contractors spoke at the meeting against the agreement, including a Lodi-based contractor that specializes in power plant construction.  They argued that these union agreements would cut bid competition, raise costs, and prevent ratepayers from getting the best quality construction at the best price.

Supporters of the union agreements emphasized that if the NCPA commissioners did not approve the union agreements, the approval of the power plant would be delayed for at least a year.  California Unions for Reliable Energy routinely uses lawsuits and its intervener status at the California Energy Commission to try to block the approval of energy projects that are bid with open competition.

The Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) is a public consortium based in Roseville that represents and provides support for the public electric utilities of 20 local governments in California.  (See list below.)  Each of these local governments selects and assigns one of their own representatives to serve as an NCPA commissioner.  For more than a year, the NCPA has been seeking a permit from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build the Lodi Energy Center, a natural gas-fired, combined-cycle electrical generating facility.

Below is the November 2 ROLL CALL VOTE to approve the Project Labor Agreement and Maintenance Labor Agreement with California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).  The votes in parenthesis were from the October 23 ROLL CALL VOTE.

  1. City of Alameda – Abstained (Abstained)
  2. Bay Area Rapid Transit District – Yes (Absent)
  3. City of Biggs – Absent (Absent)
  4. City of Gridley – Yes (Yes)
  5. City of Healdsburg – Yes (No)
  6. City of Lodi – Yes (Yes)
  7. City of Lompoc – Yes (No)
  8. City of Palo Alto – Abstained (Abstained)
  9. Port of Oakland – Absent (Absent)
  10. City of Redding – Absent (Abstained)
  11. City of Roseville – Abstained (Abstained) – commissioner Carol Garcia made a statement opposing the union agreements, but abstained because Roseville is not a participant in the power plant.
  12. City of Santa Clara – Yes (Yes)
  13. Turlock Irrigation District – Abstained (Abstained)
  14. Truckee-Donner Public Utility District – Absent (Absent)
  15. City of Ukiah – No (No)
  16. Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative – Absent (Absent)
  17. City of Azusa* – Yes (Absent)
  18. Modesto Irrigation District* – Yes (Absent)
  19. California Department of Water Resources* – Yes (Absent) – made motion to approve the union agreements.
  20. Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority* – No (Absent) 

*non-member participant

California’s Top Construction Union Boss Opens the Slush Fund Hydrant: $1.14 Million Full-Blast Against San Diego’s Proposition A Voter Initiative

Here’s yet another scoop from the Dayton Public Policy Institute about how unions are influencing the June 2012 elections in California: one supreme union official based in Sacramento has pumped $1.14 million into San Diego to defeat a city voter initiative called Proposition A. And some of the cash originally comes from utility ratepayers.

For readers unfamiliar with Proposition A, read immediately below. Those who know about Proposition A can proceed down to read about the union sources of $1.14 million for the No on A campaign.

Who Supports Proposition A in San Diego, and Why?

In 2011, San Diego voters signed petitions to qualify a Fair and Open Competition ordinance for consideration in the June 5, 2012 election. It was the first measure placed by voters on the city ballot since 1998. Now designated on the ballot as Proposition A, the Fair and Open Competition ordinance would prohibit the City of San Diego from requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on a taxpayer-funded project. It also contains language requiring the city to post certain contract information on-line.

The campaign to enact Proposition A is strongly supported by construction companies and construction trade associations. This is no surprise, since most construction companies work directly with their employees (either individually or collectively through a union) to determine the terms and conditions of work. They don’t want two-bit local politicians to negotiate separate 30-page to 60-page labor agreements with union officials (i.e. the politicians’ campaign contributors) and then impose those agreements on their businesses.

Many companies refuse to bid on work that includes a government-mandated Project Labor Agreement in the bid specifications. The resulting reduction in the number of bidders competing for contracts results in higher costs for taxpayers (as academic studies, basic economic theory, and common sense would predict).

See the YES on A campaign web site here and contributors to the YES on A campaign here.

Who Opposes Proposition A in San Diego, and Why?

The main opponents of Fair and Open Competition policies are obviously construction trade unions, which regard government-mandated Project Labor Agreements as an effective political tactic to cut bid competition and raise costs for their own benefit. With Project Labor Agreements, union organizers can completely avoid the unpleasant and time-consuming task of selling the benefits of unionization to skeptical workers. Instead, they simply ask their political allies in government to give them a union monopoly on construction!

Most construction unions in California belong under the umbrella of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, a union conglomerate based in Sacramento under the leadership of president Bob Balgenorth. If you look at the list of contributors to the No on A campaign (Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No on Measure A, sponsored by labor and management organizations), you’ll see the top two donors are Sacramento-based union-affiliated organizations under the direction of Bob Balgenorth. These two entities contributed $1.14 million to the No on A campaign, comprising 96% of all campaign receipts.

Let’s take a closer look at these two massive organizations funding the No on A campaign. One of them is a routine political action committee, but the other is a conspiracy theorist’s dream come true.

A Union Political Action Committee Gave One $45,000 Late Contribution, Comprising 3.8 Percent of the Contributions to the No on A Campaign

The Sacramento-based committee known as “Members’ Voice of the State Building Trades Council of California” made a late expenditure contribution of $45,000 to the No on A campaign on May 24. As you can see on the California Secretary of State’s web site, this committee collects money from various local construction unions and disburses the money to various campaigns for candidates and ballot measures. The Assistant Treasurer of the Members’ Voice of the State Building Trades Council of California is Bob Balgenorth.

A Mysterious Union Slush Fund, Authorized by an Obscure 1978 Federal Law to Encourage Better Relationships Between Unions and Manufacturers, Gave $1,095,000 to No on A – a Whopping 92% of All Receipts!

Something called the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed a total of $1,095,000 to the No on A campaign. This is an extraordinarily high amount for a political contribution from one entity, especially concerning a local ballot measure! The head of the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust is Bob Balgenorth.

This is NOT a traditional Political Action Committee. It is an arcane type of union trust authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Inspired by the decline of unionized manufacturing in the Northeast, this federal law was meant to help industrial management and union officials build better personal relationships and cooperate against the threat of outside competition. There are no federal or state regulations specifically addressed toward these trusts, and these trusts do not have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. This is an ambiguous and forgotten law that’s ripe for abuse.

It’s Not Union Members that Give the Money to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust: It’s Utility Ratepayers and Contractors Working for Extorted Power Plant Owners

Since the 1990s, whenever an energy company or public utility submits an application to the California Energy Commission seeking approval of a new power plant, an organization called California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) often “intervenes” in the licensing process. Represented by a South San Francisco law firm called Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, CURE submits massive data requests and environmental objections to the California Energy Commission. The applicant by law is required to answer CURE’s submissions, at significant cost and delay. The chairman of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) is Bob Balgenorth.

If the power plant owner agrees to sign a Project Labor Agreement and require its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California or its regional affiliates, CURE’s objections go away and the power plant can proceed unhindered through the licensing process. If the company or utility does not surrender to CURE’s demand, then CURE’s interference and lawsuits continue.

This racket – sometimes called “greenmail” because it’s the use of environmental laws to pressure developers to sign Project Labor Agreements – is well-known to the energy industry in California and has been extensively reported in the news media over the past dozen years. (For example, see Labor Coalition’s Tactics on Renewable Energy Projects Are Criticized – Los Angeles Times – February 5, 2011.)

For cases in which the power plant applicant succumbs to CURE’s harassment, the Project Labor Agreement that the power plant owner signs usually contains a provision requiring the owner or its contractors to make a lump-sum payment or series of payments to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust.

For example, the Project Labor Agreement signed by the Northern California Power Agency (a conglomerate of publicly-owned utilities) for the construction of the Lodi Energy Center required the agency to shell out $90,000 to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. That amount was dutifully mailed to Bob Balgenorth on August 17, 2010. (For more on this payment, see High Energy: Lodi Center Designed to be a Powerhouse for Chunk of State – Stockton Record – October 4, 2011; also, the union rebuttal on the California Building Trades Council web site – ABC Falsehoods Refuted in Letter to Stockton Record – a denial that the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust is used for political contributions.)

And the Project Labor Agreement signed by the Southern California Public Power Authority (another conglomerate of publicly-owned utilities) for the construction of the City of Anaheim’s Canyon Power Plant required the agency to shell out $65,000 to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. See Section 13.1 of the Project Labor Agreement here.

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust reports these payments as “membership dues” to the Internal Revenue Service. Which brings up a question: are the local elected officials who serve as commissioners for the Northern California Power Agency and the Southern California Public Power Authority exercising their responsibilities as “members” to approve $1,095,000 in political contributions to the No on A campaign?

But Wait a Minute…Is It Legal to Have Utility Ratepayers Fund a Mysterious Union Trust Fund that Contributes to Political Campaigns, Such as No on A?

Well, in 2009 an internal committee of the Northern California Power Agency discussed whether or not a payment to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust was an illegal gift of public funds. (See here. Note the original amount to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust was supposed to be $150,000, but aggressive opposition to the Project Labor Agreement forced the unions to cut it down to $90,000 in order to win approval from the board of commissioners.)

To solve this uncertainty, in May 2011 State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) added a cryptic amendment at the request of union lobbyists and lawyers to the end of a large unrelated public utilities bill (Senate Bill 790) regarding “community choice aggregation.” It added Section 3260 to the Public Utilities Code: “Nothing in this division prohibits payments pursuant to an agreement authorized by the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. Sec. 151 et seq.), or payments permitted by the federal Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978 (29 U.S.C. Secs. 173, 175a, and 186). Nothing in this division restricts any use permitted by federal law of money paid pursuant to these acts.”

No one in the California State Legislature – apparently not even Senator Leno – initially knew what this strange new provision meant. In the end, a few legislators such as Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) came to understand and reveal in floor debate that it authorized public utilities to pass on the costs of payments to labor-management cooperation committees to ratepayers. Governor Brown signed the bill into law with the language tacked on the end.

For more information, see the investigative report of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction at this September 23, 2011 post at www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com: A Genuine California Union Conspiracy: Senate Bill 790 and the California Building Trades Council’s Ratepayer Funded Political Slush Fund

Confused about the Conspiracy? Here’s a Chart.

A public utility or private energy company applies to the California Energy Commission for approval to build a power plant.

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California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) uses its “intervenor” status at the California Energy Commission to submit massive data requests and environmental complaints about the proposed power plant, as a result gumming up the licensing process and causing costly and lengthy delays for the applicant.

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Applicant for prospective power plant surrenders and agrees to sign Project Labor Agreement with State Building and Construction Trades Council of California or its regional affiliates. CURE releases its grip of legal paperwork and the project moves forward unimpeded and acclaimed as environmentally sound.

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The Project Labor Agreement contains a required payment or payments to the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. California Public Utilities Code Section 3260 – enacted by Senate Bill 790 in 2011 – allows public utilities to pass costs through to ratepayers.

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California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust reports those payments to the IRS as “Membership Dues,” creating questions about the rights inherent for dues-paying members.

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California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust makes contributions to political campaigns, such as $1,095,000 to fund 92% of the No on A campaign (Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No on Measure A, sponsored by labor and management organizations) in the City of San Diego in 2012.