Attend the Rate Committee Meeting, Ask your Mayor and Council Questions

PLEASE attend the rate committee meeting tomorrow at 10 am in Rocky Mount, Braswell Library. Ken Raber and Sam Noble told one of our gorup that we would not get answers to questions but we could ask questions. Apparently it is not appropriate for them to answer questions before they stick it to you. And answering questions is a drain on them administratively.

Jesse Tilton has admitted a botched refinancing deal that is costing 5% of the rate increase. Don't know about you but I can handle paying for increased fuel costs but the extra 5% because of CEO mismanagement is another story and the fact that he concealed it for months is an even bigger problem.

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/06/26/electricty.html

Reporters are running around writing what they are told and not questioning what they are told. Why? Lazy, inept. Who knows.

I implore everyone in one of the 32 eastern electric cities. Call your mayor, council members and ask them why this 5% rate increase for a bad refinance deal is being covered up?? Why are you being told it is all fuel costs when they KNOW it is not. Put them on the spot. Come to the meeting and ask the question. There have been no responses to these entries because this information is a fact.

Jesse Tilton tells the elected officials and then they all hold it tight so no one will know they screwed up. If this is not corruption, what is?

Comments

A front page for you

I have no idea what our readership is in different parts of the state, but I'm glad to help promote this. You might consider emailing a link to your post to everyone you know.

Do you have a plan for how to talk to the reporters? What's the story line?

In 25 words or less - what exactly are you going to ask? Should one of the questions be: Will the body refrain from (whatever) until the questions posed have been answered?

Thanks James

We have been promoting this site statewide. So we do links to it on every community and political blog so hopefully this message is getting out. Several legislators tell us they read the information here.

We are emailing everything you allow us to put on Blue NC (thanks).

This meeting is not the last shot. We will go to the Board Meeting July 27 and we know the elected officials on the board are far more susceptible to political pressure than the managers who think they are invincible as long as they hide behind the cloak of ElectriCities. This group listens and recommends and the Board decides. So your excellent question is one everyone should ask every board member PRIOR to the board meeting and at the board meeting. We want everyone to ask every city elected official these questions prior to the board meeting.

Story Line - 10% Rate Increase for Fuel 5% Rate Increase for Mismanagement

Questions: How much has the most refinancing of the debt cost us?
When was it discovered to be a bad deal?
When did the CEO inform the cities, the board?
How long had he known when he informed them?
How much did it cost during that interim?
Has the refinancing of the debt been cleaned up - i.e. has it been refinanced again? How much did that cost?
What percentage of the rate increase you are discussing is due to the poorly managed refinancing of the debt?
Why are you not informing the ratepayers of the true costs of the rate increase?
How much have operational costs increased (%) over the past three years?
What cuts will ElectriCities make to demonstrate that they understand the burden they have placed on eastern NC?
Why is the ElectriCities Board continuing to employ a CEO who has mismanaged public money, cost the ratepayers needlessly and hidden the facts?

What have I missed?

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

On behalf of ratepayers in eastern NC, THANKS

Good idea. We have thirty days and we are on it. We have some good input and are trying to get business leaders on it. Accountability is it. You and Dan have been great advisors. Count on us for help on whatever issue peaks your passion. (or when you run for another office.)

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

ElectriCities sort of admitting something?

http://www.electricities.com/press/ncempa_rate_communications.html

So if you read this you will see ElectriCities is sort of admitting something, sort of. Financing costs have now made the list of the top five reasons electric rates are DRAMATICALLY INCREASING. Dig deep and you will see a bunch of excuses about the refinancing deal that went wrong. Of course, they say it affected a lot of groups. Does anyone know of another group it affected? I don't. Of course they will not say it affects 5% of the rate increase. A CEO screw up taking money out of our pockets. Board of Directors accountability is indeed the issue. We know the CEO was not forthright in telling the board, misled the board and waited a while to tell the board. Is this what eastern NC deserves - an overpaid, unaccountable CEO mismanaging fragile finances and the future of eastern NC. No. He was fifth choice when he was hired and should be fired immediately, if for no other reason that the board desiring to restore credibility.

One month to the board meeting.

ElectriCities - The People are Catching on to the Mismanagement

Rick Dew, candidate for Mayor in Wilson, did a good job today. The rest of us spoke to reporters. Lets see how the press turns out on this issue.

ElectriCities had to admit the bad refinancing of the debt decisions. Who can explain synthetic swaps in IMOs? They say a lot of industries did it, but I have not found anyone with the multi million dollar problem. I think most of us were thinking, if you go to invest money, you want "safe" investments. After all it is public money. Electricities did speculative investments and they failed and so we lost large amounts of funding. Now we are all paying for it., ElectriCities invested in bonds that were in "mortgage investments" and we all know how that market is going. In all of the buy outs and market fluctuation, all of the AAA rated bonds are now rated BBB. If this is not CEO mismanagement I don't know what is. We have our game plan and we have a month. The rate increase will not go away but Jesse Tilton can. We need new leadership. And honestly I have to ask, where was Richard Moore on this deal? Is not the treasurer the expert who should be looking over this. After all if ElectriCities defaults on $5 billion in debt, we are ALL holding the bag (that means all of you in non electric cities).

Anyway, this group today approved the 14% increase....and it goes forward. I think there are many questions yet to be answered. And many more questions to be asked. Press on troops. Whoever said the people cannot affect change did not meet this group. And our friends at BLUENC gave us a forum to connect so continue to promote this site across the state. It is immensely educational.

Attend ElectriCities Board meeting July 25 for more of the show. The CEO needs to go.

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

Thanks for the update

The mainstream media seem to be missing in action when it comes to covering this conflict. No news here.

14%?

Jeebus, Harry, & Moseff. 14%? Come on, guys. You're killing us here. At what point does this corporation suffer consequences? We have to pay what they charge us for our power and we can't get angry and leave the compact, so no bottom line consequences there. Little to no oversight by the gubmint bodies that should be regulating them, so no consequences there. Salary increases seem to be happening on schedule for upper management, so no consequences there.

I doubt my town will pass all of this increase on to it's customers. We just had a rate increase last year. They heard some noise about it so I hope they're aware that people are already strapped and pissed off. So what happens? My little town that depends on utility rates for at least some of it's operating capital will take a hit and I and my neighbors will take a hit, but ElectriCities sails on their merry way, unfazed and apparently confused over all the fuss we insignificant little people are making. Amazing.

Golly, gee whiz, Mr. Jesse. I sure am glad my town joined ElectriCities all those years ago so we'd get our power from Nuclear plants so we wouldn't be subject to brown outs or really sharp energy increases when there came another energy crisis or oil shortage in the future. I know all my neighbors are, too.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Update on ElectriCities

http://www.wilsontimes.com/News/Local/Story/Electric-rates-face-August-increase--

And just take a look at how people are getting it now. Thanks to BlueNC who aired the issue first and frontpaged it for us. And more importantly Dan, James, Leslie who helped us fine tune the points and make them simple. We would be howling in the wind if it wasn't for this site and James' support of us bringing this issue forward.

Here is a small sampling of the what people are saying now:

http://wilsontimes.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1887

http://www.gotarboro.com/cbb/post/460918

More to come. We have only just begun.

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 catching fire!

We've seen snowballs get rolling before ... and it's always the result of committed individuals like you who push, push, and then push some more. You can bet the PR people at Electri$hock are scrambling right now to find a way to deal with the wave that you're building.

Great job!

Dan Blue, Martin Nesbitt ??

Unfortunately this snowball gets dirtier.

Why would Sen Martin Nesbitt and Rep Dan Blue (A former ElectriCities lobbyist) get a bill passed for ElectriCities and then get a PAC contribution when they have no electric city in their district? What's it to them? And why would a bill pass letting this group enter into ANYTHING for any longer than 3 years when the ineptness is so OBVIOUS and we obviously have a refinancing screwup/coverup in play? The last thing eastern NC needs is to be tied to ANYTHING longer than 3 years let alone a place that screws up financings and costs US MONEY.

"Enrolled and on its way to the Governor’s office for signature is a bill that allows joint municipal assistance agencies to make and execute contracts for more than three years. HB 1679 entitled Joint Municipal Assistance Agency Contracts, introduced by Rep. Earl Jones (D-Guilford), was given a favorable report out of the Senate Judiciary I Committee and received unanimous support on the Senate floor. Senator Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) explained the bill on the Senate floor and stated that he had no idea why anyone would put such a restriction on an organization trying to do business. The bill amends General Statute 159B-44 by removing the three-year limit. ElectriCities will be able to bind its members in contracts for a period longer than three years.The bill is effective as soon as the Governor signs it into law."

What would Martin Nesbitt be thinking. The answer is this organization obviously needed restriction when it was created and STILL DOES. Do legislators read anything?

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 won't agree with these points

Al -- You won't agree with these points, but I'll make them anyway (so that you're prepared for it).

First, everyone in NC should be concerned with ElectriCities, regardless of whether they represent an ElectriCities district or not. While the power is consumed by individuals in the 50+ municipalities that ElectriCities services across NC, the debt obligations ultimately find their way back to NC at large. And that's $2.6 billion of debt obligations. If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and General Assembly officials aren't concerned with ElectriCities, they should be. From a strategic standpoint, it also gives you a lot more eyes and ears that need to pay attention to the problems.

Second, long-term contracts aren't always bad, especially if you're trying to contain costs. I agree that you probably don't want current management entering into long-term contracts foolishly (especially if the Board is not reviewing them appropriately), but a long-term mindset can be healthy. For example, part of ElectriCities problem is that it is buying fuel supplies off of the "spot market." Prices on the spot market fluctuate widely, and many companies will enter into long-term contracts to lock in a predictable rate. Progress Energy was able to weather through much of the rapid rise in uranium prices recently because it had long term contracts with uranium suppliers. Similarly, a lot of commercial and industrial customers negotiate lower energy rates in exchange for longer term contracts.

BUT -- and this is very important -- when ElectriCities comes to your local municipality (as a member) to secure a longer-term contract, you need to make sure that your local decision-makers say NO to that contract unless ElectriCities proves its case. Make them demonstrate that there are benefits to being a member, and hold them accountable for past performance.

Rocky Mount

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/06/28/electricities.html

Covered meeting and missed the boat. We hear that the papers are getting pressure from elected officials to clam up, so apparently we are too close for comfort. Wilson has asked the WDT to shut down their forum cause of the comments. Isn't this great? Politicians get elected to tell the truth and when it is discovered they have been hiding and avoiding it, and the truth comes out, they pressure papers to keep it quiet.

We are also told that ElectriCities' CEO and others have commented that this is a minority community issue and insignificant. Am in 2008 or did I fall into 1958?

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

Keep at it

Keep at it, Al.

If you parse through all of the new information and detail that's been issued, you'll find that you have a gold mine to work with. Unfortunately, you're going to have to work to piece it all together. Here are three examples:

EXAMPLE ONE:

NCEMPA issued a press release to discuss the rate increase. The Wilson Times also published an article, with commentary from management, on the rate increase. The press release says that the increase in transmission costs are $3 million, but the article says that increase is $6 million. What's the real number? Which number is reliable?

EXAMPLE TWO:

The same Wilson Times article provides a breakdown of the sources of the $84 million in anticipated increased spending:

Source Amount
Progress Energy $37 million
Coal $12 million
Debt Service Payments $12 million
Nuclear $9 million
Transmission Costs $6 million
Operating Costs $5 million
Replaced Investment Income $3 million

But, when discussing the 2004 refinancing, the same article notes:

Tim Tunis, NCEMPA's chief financial officer, said that the agency had converted a portion of the debt from fixed-rate loans to variable-interest loans in 2004. The move was expected to save around $10.5 million a year in interest payments, he said.

(Emphasis added)

So, the refinancing went from saving $10.5 million per year to costing an additional $12 million per year. That's a swing of $22.5 million, which is more than the $12 million and $9 million projected for additional coal and nuclear fuel combined.

EXAMPLE THREE:

NCEMPA refinanced some of its debt earlier in April (to correct the issue with variable rate debt). When it issued the debt, a ratings agency -- Fitch -- took the time to rate the debt so that the investor community could make an educated decision on whether to purchase the debt or not. As part of it's ratings, Fitch reviewed NCEMPA's financials and most likely, Fitch met with the management team. In late April, Fitch issued a press release and made the following comment:

The agency believes the forecasted 7% to 9% rate increase later this year should capture working capital needs of the agency for the next two to three years.

Your questions should be first, did management say that to the investors, and second, if so, what's changed between late April, when management made it's 7% to 9% prediction, and now, when management makes its 14% request? That's at least a 5-point swing, and a difference of at least $30 million. Why?

You've got to keep asking the questions until all of these discrepancies are gone and until the entire picture makes sense. Ask management, and more importantly, ask the Board. The Board has the duty and responsibility to approve of these increases and financings before management executes them. And the board members have the duty to understand these issues before they approve them.

There is a lot of information out there, but you're going to have to hunt for it, collect it, break it apart, and put it back together again to make your story. You may have to help the press see the big picture (and the Board too), but that's the way you keep the snowball moving both downhill and towards your target.

Great stuff, Dan.

A model of analysis and examination for all of us to aspire to.

Terrific Analysis of MisInformation

Thanks Dan. Terrific analysis. We will indeed have to go through documents very thoroughly. Rick Dew in Wilson also uncovered some information. The CEO contract is up for renewal in August this year. And the contract the cities have with ElectriCities is due for renewal in 2010. This has also given us something new to work toward and focus on.

Glad we have you on our team. Thanks again.

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

Advice

More clueless reporters and even worse, more clueless town officials. One editor told us that he was down two reporters and too busy to figure out all of this stuff.

Should we hold our own news conference and/or send out some press releases armed with some facts?

There's way too many examples of the two below articles confirming that reporters take ElectriCities at their word and that the people who need to understand what's happening simply don't get it. The folks at ElectriCities just tell what they want to and get away with it .

http://www.mydailyrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=98472&TM=38454.04

http://www.theherald-nc.com/front/story/8764.html

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

Ah yes. The downward spiral of journalistic incompetence

After a century of unrestrained profits, newspapers now think they can cut their way to profitability. Who needs reporters who actually do work? Sadly, you have to do it for them.

A press conference and news releases are absolutely in order. Here are some random ideas.

1. Create an entity to give voice to your opposition. Make it catchy.

2. Write up some basic materials:

A press release demanding (something specific).
Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) about your campaign, including your bio, why you're doing this, contact information, etc.
A fact sheet (front on one page)
Your 10 Questions hand out.
Maybe another handout covering 10 Lies

3. Stage an event (concurrent with the Big Meeting) with something that photographers would like. A wheelbarrow full of pennies that you can dump on the floor as a symbol of wasteful management. A wheelbarrow full of rotten apples. And empty jail cell to show where the current management belongs. Let reporters know you're going to be there and bring a crowd.

PS

Write letters to the editor and/or op-ed columns and send to the two papers to challenge their coverage and set the record straight.

ElectriCities

Good advice my friend. We are on it.

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