Jesse Tilton and ElectriCities Attempt to Cover and Justify

Jesse Tilton came to Tarboro this week to spin some tales about electric rates. One citizen wrote:

"In any case, apparently his reason for being at last night's meeting was to get the town council members to voice their support for some specific legislative issues. I guess he was doing what would be called "lobbying." He talked a lot about rising costs of this and that and how the lending industry is all screwed up which in turn has affected the pocketbooks of many other industries."

Jesse Tilton was trying to impart to the good people of Taroro why the electric rates are going up so dramatically, And will go up even more, putting this town, Wilson and all of the other eastern NC towns at a competitive disadvantage. The reason it did not click is he spins things and talks down to confuse because he is covering the simple truth. Yes, there is pending climate change legislation but it DID NOT pass in Congress yet. But more importantly, he refinanced the debt of 32 cities - the almost $3 billion debt for the coal and nuclear plants not due to be paid until 20205 - in a swap and the variable rate rose quickly and started costing millions each month. So, he found out in October, and I guess was shocked his plan went south and the interest rate was soaring so what did he do? He sat around while millions were raking up in costs, plain old interest, and then told Sam Noble and his board in March. What CEO can we afford to let sit on rising costs and not tell for 6 months.

Now your rates are increasing because of all those interest costs. Just as if you had borrowed on a credit card with an increasing interest rate and saw it happening but did not tell your spouse until it was out of control.

So Electricities had to go refinance again and spend more money on that. You and me and the other tax payers will now pay for it. He was spinning his tale of the home loan industry affecting others like our electric industry instead of telling you straight up what he did. If you don't believe me, ask Sam Noble. Call Ken Raber. Call Bruce Rose. But if you ask Jesse Tilton you will never get the truth, just rehtoric. And if you don't believe that, ask any legislator. Attend the rate meeting june 27 so you can ask about your electric bill. If we do not get the truth city officials and others will continue to sit on it covering their own failure to act or deal with him. This is money out of your wallet and he is digging in now but will dig harder next time. And if he continues to run the place like this, every citizen in NC will end up paying for it. Why? The entire State is responsible for this debt. If cities cannot pay, the State has to pay and that comes out of everyone's pocket.

In this time of economic upheaval, we need to deal with fair and honest entities, and this organization can hardly be called that at this point. Attend the rate committee meeting in rocky mount. Demand truth. Demand accountability. And demand a change in leadership at ElectriCities. If we don't what will it be next time?


Private sector CEOs

are dropping like flies because of poorly negotiated loans and deals.

Is there a fly swatter in the house?

CEOs dropping like flies

He dropped the CFO Al Conyers like a fly and then ran over him, backed up and ran over him again. The guy had been there thirty years and knew the debt, refinancing inside and out.

Then, he got the HR tooty to send out an email thanking him for his service. Tilton isn't even a good actor.

Much better angle, Al

Al --

I went through 3 or 4 drafts of a much longer posting that I was going to provide yesterday, but I was having a lot of trouble summarizing my points. Fortunately, you've already figured out what I was going to say, so I can keep this posting much, much shorter.

You've got three primary issues with ElectriCities (the PAC, the rates, and the management). I think you'll achieve your results if you, as you have done in this last posting, focus your efforts and attention on the management issue. I'm not suggesting that your first two issues aren't valid or winnable arguments, but I do think you dilute your efforts against a well-entrenched opponent. In short: arguing over the PACs will lead you into the minefield of campaign finance, arguing over the rates (by themselves) will lead you in the wasteland of the current energy crisis, but arguing over the management will focus attention where you want it -- on the trade agency, it's handling of debt refinancing, its Board of Directors, and its purpose.

Your question should be "who's watching ElectriCities"? As a trade organization, it sits outside of the purview of the Utilities Commission. It's members are the many small towns and cities and it's primary governance is provided by its Board of Directors. Consider yourself a shareholder and hold the Board of Directors to the same level of fiduciary duty that you'd expect from a Board of Directors of a for-profit enterprise. Ask for more information on the financial operations (I can't find the 2008 quarterly reports on the website). Those statements will provide information on operations of both ElectriCities and the two power agencies. Ask the Board of Directors if they've reviewed the quarterly reports and whether anyone can make a decision on rates if management hasn't disclosed the results of its operations. Ask the Board if it reviews those statements and if it approved the bond refinancing.

In my opinion, you'll have much better leverage by targeting those Board-level decision makers and forcing their hand. Also note that the contract between ElectriCities and the various towns and municipalities expires at the end of 2010, but it renews automatically unless terminated by one year's notice. I'd set goals and milestones, beginning with the Rate Committee Meeting on the 27th, each Board of Director's Meeting, the Annual Meeting, and ending with the December 31, 2009 deadline for contract renewal. You can harness a lot of positive energy for productive change in that time frame, especially if your overarching goal is management accountability and a change in leadership.

Great advice

Very glad you're here, Dan!

Thanks Dan


Thank you for the inisghtful, focused advice. I have been overwhelmed by information from the place and it took me months to sort through which entity does what and how it all works so in trying to relay the issue, my mind has been boggled, to say the least.

We will absolutely take you advice. Don't know how to thank you. But you can be sure there is a focused group and even though we are older, retired, novices, we have the public interest at heart and are committed to evoking some positive change.

Very glad you are here and took the time to share these thoughts.


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