Wilson Daily Times Stands up to ElectriCities; Rick Dew Letter to the Editor



Wilson Times is on Board now with editorials. Rick Dew's Letter to the Editor published.

Thanks to those emailing from the western cities and eastern cities. Many of you want to know why this is happening in the east only.

In the eastern agency (32 cities) the ownership in generation with Progress Energy is in coal plants and nuclear so the coal and transportation costs are more than in the west where the agency (19 cities) only owns nuclear. BUT the bigger issues is that management has mismanaged, overspent, made poor decisions and lived beyond its means. The east has more debt and more debt that will be paid off over a longer period if time so I guess Jesse Tilton made that bad decision only for the east. BUT the bad decisions can be made that will affect you in the west if he remains in a position over his head and the EXTRAVAGANT expenses and salaries affect you as well. I am not sure why western board members even vote on eastern issues if they do not understand them. So, we should all be together on these issues.

The EXTRAVAGANT salaries, that city council members were completely unaware and have been caught off guard over, are an issue east and west. No one knew. The legal settlements cost money and affect everyone and are solely the responsibility of Jesse Tilton. The rapid and extensive turnover and incompetence in government relations that led to hiring 15 contract lobbyists affects all and is expensive. Legal fees for all the issues and problems costs us all. These issues stop at the feet of Tilton. If his board cannot give up the salary they get, we need new ones.

Next steps: press release, press conference, documents on expense reports from certain staff, outreach in the west. We are far from "done" as there is much much more to come. Employees give us information often.


Good work!

The unified front is cracking.

Maybe BlueNC should feature a Shock Week in the near future to invite consumers to voice their "shock" over the gross mismanagement-without-accountability that's running rampant at ElectriCities.


PS This, by the way, is exactly what would happen if Pat McCrory were governor ... in terms of being complicit in giving Duke Energy free reign to make money at the expense of the environment and the common good.

Take the next step...

Al --

This is great. You're collecting a lot of good information (both on the history of ElectriCities and on its current state of affairs).

Add this to your mix:

You have 32 member cities in NCEMPA. Be sure that you have a point person in each of those member cities. As you know by now, you have a much greater impact when a citizen of Rocky Mount, for example, is complaining about the impact on Rocky Mount. It makes it easier for the press to follow up and makes it easier for you to coordinate your efforts. Make a list and determine who's where.

You'll have some interested parties that don't live in one of the member cities but are still contributing in some other fashion. Keep them in the loop, but make sure they're advancing your cause. You may want to review some of the neighboring co-ops to compare rates and services.

Once your organization is together and roles have been identified, you'll have an easier time coordinating with the western cities (or showing them the roadmap). Show them what the debt is costing them in real terms (because the ownership of coal or nuclear power generators doesn't appear to be getting the cities any preferential rates on electricity). Why not commit to pay down the debt?

Your organization will provide part of the answer to your own question... Who is watching ElectriCities? You are (because no one else would).

Thanks for Shock Week

We will try to direct people who ask questions here as we have been doing for months now. They learn a lot when they read the analyses.

Still no first or second quarter financials at ElectriCities - what is up with that? It is almost August. Slack staff or what? or, are they spinning the numbers?

We are working on 32 contact points, one for each city, and then we are moving to the 19 in the west. City Council members are expressing rage, disbelief over the information as they had no idea. They are finding out they have either been misled or they were listening to the wrong person.

What can you tell me about other watchdog groups - like Democracy NC - I think we should be one for this group until someone else steps up. Are we on the right track? We would like CUCA to join with us since they watch out for consumers.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

You're definitely on the right track

There are lots of watchdog groups in NC, but most have their hands full already. One group that keeps an eye on Big Energy is NCPIRG. You might contact them, but I know they're stretched thin. Bottom line, it's probably your ball to carry for awhile.

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What can you tell me about

What can you tell me about other watchdog groups - like Democracy NC - I think we should be one for this group until someone else steps up. Are we on the right track? We would like CUCA to join with us since they watch out for consumers.

First, don't plan on someone else stepping up, especially in the case of ElectriCities. ElectriCities sits in an odd public/private place. As noted before, it appears to be largely outside of the jurisdiction of the NC Utilities Commission which keeps an eye on Progress Energy and Duke Energy (which makes it more like NC's other electrical co-ops). ElectriCities represents your municipality. Its Board of Directors are there to represent your municipality, and consists of people elected by you. You have to watch the Board so that they watch management. And by you, I am referring to you, the citizen-consumer, and all of us who are in the same bucket. It should be clear that we collectively have to watch ElectriCities and to hold them accountable.

Second, think about what you'll need from a watchdog group and from there, identify your natural allies. (You can wait until you've accomplished your short-term goals, because this will establish a more lasting organization or set of relationships to continuously monitor performance, etc.)

I don't think that Democracy NC can serve as a reliable watchdog organization for you. It is concerned with voter participation and fair elections, not utility rates or executive management. This isn't a case about democracy with respect to voter participation or elections. It's much more about transparency in public/private partnerships.

CUCA (Carolina Utility Customers Association) is a closer fit, but its primary focus appears to be industrial and commercial, not residential. They can be a good ally, but they may not have the same focus that you'd like.

North Carolina Public Interest Research Group may be a reliable resource. The most effective tool you could have right now is a research team. I would compare the services and rates provided by ElectriCities as an end-customer (either residential or business) with the services and rates provided by the other public and private energy providers in NC. So, when ElectriCities compares itself (or its problems) to Progress Energy or Duke Energy, you should be able to compare the companies side by side.

  • What are the rates?
  • What is the cost of financing?
  • Are these numbers going up or down?

And, you should be able to compare ElectriCities against the municipalities that are part of the other municipal co-ops and their organizations.

  • How much do they spend on lobbying? What are they lobbying for or against? Is it effective?
  • How much is spent on marketing? Is it effective?
  • What kinds of people are on their Board of Directors? Both Progress Energy and Duke Energy have Boards of Directors with pretty strong business and/or energy credentials (Fortune 500). I bet they're familiar enough with the ins and outs of corporate finance to ask tough questions about debt and risks. At the same time, the Boards of Directors of the smaller co-ops appear to be the same mayors and elected officials or representatives. There don't appear to be any problems there... why is that?

That sort of analysis or benchmarking will help you identify other disturbing trends, if they exist, and that will help you identify other allies. Are the poor being charged higher rates than they would be getting in another area? Are minorities located in areas with higher rates or poorer services? Are retirees located in areas with higher rates or poorer services? Are the significant economic development issues in those areas due to higher rates or services? There are interest groups that focus on those issues, from the AARP, the NAACP, and even trade associations for manufacturers, realtors, or anyone else.

If they were a public company (a la Duke Energy or Progress Energy), every available number or statement would be dissected and analyzed. Every move, every hiring, every appointment would be compared against peers. In the absence of a strong investor community, you must form a strong consumer community to do the same analysis. After all, you're paying the bills (both the energy bill and the taxes).

None of this is any different from what you're doing -- getting up to speed (and getting everyone else up to speed) is crucial. In the end, you should summarize everything and document it with research.

As always, we're happy to help you fill out the questions that you haven't already asked or help you organize them, but so could any research team (like the one at NCPIRG).

Your key is to keep hitting your targets near term -- and hitting them hard -- while putting together a team that can continue this level of scrutiny over the long term.