Ratepayers are scheduling meetings. Our website will be up soon.

Steps to Improve Electric Rates for RatePayers

1 CEO – Restrict CEO salary for a GOVERNMENT ENTITY to a reasonable range of comparable government positions. The Chancellors of NCSU and UNC have responsibility for large budgets and many staff. Electricities has 100 staff people. Require the CEO to live in an electric city and pay electric rates in a city so he knows what it is like. The CEO there does not pay electric rates in a city and never has and has been CEO for 12 years. Legislators have criticized him for this issue. This salary is for a government entity not an Investor Owned Utility and the current salary is out of line with NC government. The power agencies are the entities with money and they are LOCAL GOVERNMENT not INVESTOR OWNED. Two senior level women leave and cannot talk in five years is a problem. Court cases and new cases pending with women. Numerous settlements made by Jesse Tilton.

2 get rid of expensive staff – Seven people making more than $150,000 a year is ridiculous. We cannot afford this. This is taxpayer money. One person has received 15-20% pay increases each year. Others have received double digit increases. How many received increases in the double digits and for how many years? How many people make in excess of $100,000 - likely at least ten more.

3 hire a new staff and put them in a distressed area of eastern nc using an empty building to help the economy and be near the people. eliminste unnecessary staff. Many staff sitting around doing nothing. Could do same work for half the staff.

4 restrict pay increases each year for staff at electricities to no more than 5% like cities have. Streamline salaries to match cities. Regular staff get 5% but the top layer gets 10-15-20% a year or more often.

5 replace the board of directors with business leaders from cities appointed by the legislature who will not demand a salary and are not corrupted by a salary. Make them comply with ethics laws. Eliminate $168,000 in board salaries. Make Electricities report to the legislature monthly and the treasurer. City managers, electric directors and mayors get paid and should not be paid again to be on this board, especially those who then quit their jobs and move. Cities without debt should not be on the board being paid by the debt of taxpayers. City Managers should not get the board payment added to their retirement. They should want to do it for free or not do it all. Rolling lobbyists onto the board should not be allowed.

6 eliminate pay outs from the board and ceo for political campaigns. expose and then Stop legislators who are telling the ceo who to promote. Board gets salary and then gives it in political contributions. NO PAC and NO POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS for a government entity. Look at State Board of Elections Reports. The League of Municipalities does not have a PAC.

7 make secretaries there earn the standard salary as city secretaries not $50,000 a year. Five secretaries earn more than $45,000 a year. Most city secretaries earn $30,000.

8 make electricities have same healthcare as cities. Save $700,000 a year. The electricities health care plan is the “top of the line” – per person expenditures are well above the per person expenditures of those in cities. Compare per person payment with that of an average among cities.

9 get rid of fleet cars to cut down on waste. Employees have been using them for personal purposes. Witnesses will attest to this fact. record license plate when you see it.

10 eliminate out of town and out of electric city retreats and meetings. Eliminate purchases of alcohol drinks with taxpayer money. the only meetings should be in cities on electricities power.

11 allow no major purchases of infrastructure at electricities until debt is paid in full. Do not allow them to buy transmission lines until their debt is paid. How much is being spent on transmission planning?

12 get rid of the law firm and hire inside counsel. Eliminate more than $500,000 in legal fees not including settlements. hire inside counsel for less than $100,000. Hire experts when needed. How much of the legal fees are for employment versus energy issues versus lobbying? Do the lawyers charge the same for lobbying as legal? Why does the most expensive lawyer go to simple meetings with the Treasurer and others when staff should do it. Why are there so many lobbyists - there are more at ELectricities than Progress or the Cooperatives.

13 send budget to taxpayers to see - if you pay a rate, get a budget - and newspapers in cities so it is open and understood and scrutinized. SUNSHINE LAW. no one sees the budget and it is spun to show only what they want. The annual report comes out a year late and is worthless. The budget sent is a pr tool.

14 have legislature oversight the group with the treasurer and make electricities report monthly to legislature to show openness and reasonable spending based on issues of the past and present. The legislature created them and should get reports. Have the cities and ElectriCities regulated by NCUC for fairness and equity. Ratepayers will be better off when rates are analyzed and evaluated for fairness by a neutral staff.

Comments

When are electric companies going to start

doing the right thing? One of their priorities should be leasing solar panel systems to households. This could be a win win for everyone!

This is good alman, I hope you continue keeping us informed and let us know when the site is up.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Thanks for the support

I am sure ElectriCities has three lawyers, a team of highly paid staff and a team of consultants trying to figure out who we are when in fact we are retirees who know the system and have time to do research and "listen" to what their own city officials are saying, their board members are saying, their current staff, legislators and reporters are saying out and about town. We are going to ask to meet in small groups with their board members who have a responsibility as public officials to answer. For years when a group asked a question, we got a staff person coming to us and explaining electric rates to us. No one seems to ever hear from the CEO or most of the board members. Seems to me they get paid to handle the tough situations.

One can be in the halls of the legislature and hear more than I have written. And if you have been in state government, you have heard even more. I have heard this stuff for years especially out of the Treasurer's office. Heck some of it was in the paper a few years ago. In 2000 they spent $500,000 on consultants including the husband of a staff person and one with ties to the Governor on their "pr and image." They have probably burned that amount or more up right now because 10 of us got together, started talking and compared stories they had heard around town and decided to see if there was reaction. People react when you hit a nerve. Cannot wait to see some spin come out of them.

We are trying to raise issues of concern and will offer new options. If you don't like the heat, get out of the political kitchen.

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

Open Discussion

As a long time lobbyist I can tell you that I am sure they are stringing up their staff about now. The staff there likes to write anonymous stuff and the word is out that they bring interegators in to work them over if they "part the company line." Dissention in the ranks is a no-no. Hard to believe this is happening in a public entity. Sounds like the Bush White House. Maybe they have a "leaker."

I see a whole lot of

recommendations for fiscal responsibility on your list, and these are definitely things that need to be addressed, but I thought the core issue with high rates was due to the debt burden?

If you address all these salary/benefit issues, where will those saved dollars go? Towards paying off the debt, or towards reducing kilowatt hour rates?

Good question

On the CEO salary, if the IOUs have 10,000 employees (Progress) 10 billion in revenues and 3.1 million customers, seems the CEO of ElectriCities should be about $250,000 (the salary of a large city with more employees) for his 100 employees and 500,000 customers. I have not done a complete analysis of what they do, but there are a lot of cost savings in the salaries. Could probably save $3 million in salaries with RIF and retirements. Probably another $3-5 million in savings in the other areas.

The debt is higher in the east than the west but there are probably many many other costs factored into the power agency budgets that I have not yet studied in detail but in talking to some cities, there are always "built in costs" for things not really needed. Much of my information has come from cities and these solutions are also solutions I have heard from some of them:

Number 1 - eliminate ElectriCities - the trade association has outlived its usefulness and the services could be attained elsewhere - besides above savings, you probably get another few million in savings

Number 2 - have the power agency commissioners (all cities are represented on them) make all the decisions and have the east in the east and the west in the west

Number 3 - apply the savings (and make additional cuts to the power agencies) to the wholesale rates the power agencies charge the cities. if nothing else, this will give some relief to the eastern cities in the wholesale rates.

Number 4 - have NCUC regulate all rates, which will make adjustments in cities where they "live" off electric revenue as opposed to the general fund. I personally would feel better having them assess the cities and set rates. if the cities and electricities want to pay like they are IOUs, they should be regulated in the same way. I think Progress, Duke and the co-ops would agree. It really is not fair that the cities are not regulated when the other providers are regulated. And, customers will have a place to raise issues - before the NCUC - as opposed to now, where they can only speak to the city council who really do not understand much of this issue. Rep. LaRoque had a bill that would do this for his city he represented - Kinston - because of these issues.

But .. I am interested in other thoughts and ideas to promote to the legislature. No one said this is easy to solve but when there are huge wastes prompted by greed and irresponsibility, I personally feel compelled to point them out. There seems to be an attitude there that they are not government and do not have to succumb to the same level of public information and access as cities and I do not understand where that comes from at all. I got the information gathered from legislators, current employees, progress energy employees, cooperative employees and press who have covered them.

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

Clayton NC

I agree with many of your thoughts. I want to get involved with this group. The Clayton paper reported that our rates are 26% higher than progress energy. Any cuts in excess spending will help. I agree with the thoughts that the legislature should provide oversight on a very regular basis and a friend who works there says that the Joint Utility Review Committee can do that easily. So, I suggest we try that route. The NCUC and regulation could be achieved as well but that would be a lot for them to take on quickly. I also agree with comments about the Treasurer taking a more active role in reviewing expenses against the massive debt. If Harlan Boyles was still with us, he would have plenty of comments and likely lack shock at any of this.

WebSite for the Taxpayers will be up soon

Our website will be up in the next few days and will continue information and links to information as well as our small group meetings. We have asked several Board Members to meet with us but then they seem to have cut off conversation which is interesting for a public entity. Why not meet with us to provide answers if we have something wrong? I think we have hit some nerves and are right on the money. Some legislators have expressed interest as well so we will continue to try to facilitate some meetings.

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

I'm playing catch-up,

so try to be patient with some of my questions. :)

There seems to be an attitude there that they are not government and do not have to succumb to the same level of public information and access as cities and I do not understand where that comes from at all.

From my (admittedly thin) understanding, Electricities was formed to be a COOP of sorts, or maybe an administrative "entity" to take the place of whatever previous utility company had managed the power generation/distribution.

If so, they may be "authorized to operate" by the state legislature, and they may be monitored by the NCUC, but they are not a state government entity, per se. More a collection of local governements; at least it appears that way.

Even more than the difference between Federal and state bodies, municipal government and state government are separate entities, and I'm not sure the GA would want to get embroiled in this, for fear they will be working at odds with some cities while helping others. While it does appear that state legislation was needed to allow the creation of Electricities, I'm not sure what they could (or would) do to straighten it out.

I do have another question: how hard did the power companies fight to keep cities from doing this? I have a hunch the demographics of (some of) these areas makes it extremely difficult to keep the KWH prices low. Which also means both residential and utility Solar/small wind generation are ideal, especially in light of tax incentives and loans made available by the state.

My thoughts

Again, I am a lobbyist not an expert on this issue though I have heard a lot of the items in the first blog post and in the past so none of this is shocking or new "news." So I will jump in with my two cents.

My understanding is that ElectriCities is the trade association - an administrative entity for the power agencies (the cities who came together to buy electric power). The cities came together so they could buy power - i.e. nuke and coal plants - which makes sense as opposed to them doing it by themselves. So, the power agencies are part of the state in that they were created by the state and I think the General Assembly, Treasurer, Auditor are interested and always have been because if the cities cannot pay their debt - aha - the state will have to pay it. So they are authorized to operate as the entity they are because of the state and because of all that debt there should be some monitoring - perhaps more than the treasurer does which is associated with the debt. The General Assembly could change them structurally and could turn them into some other type of entity. The cities are supposed to do decision making for the power agencies but if the board is being paid and people are going between being consultants and board members, there could be conflicts and a point to requiring ethics reporting. And there could be a point to having some of the board appointed by the legislators. Could be godd if they got some retired executives on there like a Sherwood Smith. The GA is already embroiled with them because they created this animal and for the past few years the rural coops and the cities have been clashing in a big way. I think the debt and state oversight of local government debt is a pretty good reason to monitor or look over them. And local governments are essentially part of the state and get any power they have or not from the general assembly so this group is no different. There is probably a list of things they could do to monitor, including getting NCUC to regulate them.

I think the power companies wanted to buy the cities out of the business during deregulation discussions and with the economies of scale, they could provide power at a reasonable price, if they could buy the cities out. They would probably like to buy them now but would want a deal and I don't know if they could afford them because of the cost to cover the debt. Deregulation would have driven the cities to sell out but those debates ended. The cities could not have competed. The kilowatt hour prices have to be affected by the economies of scale and the big companies have those and this is one of those cases where business is more efficient and able to produce and provide the power at a best cost. I think the cities will have a tough time with solar and wind because of the cost of doing that in the small towns and collectively, and the debt has them strapped to make many new investments.

People have heard for years the stories of elaborate trips and spending, salaries, big pay raises, so none of this is real new news. Quite a few reporters out there have an issue with and quite a few legislators have an issue with them.

enjoyed scharrison entries

scharrison - enjoyed reading your postings on environment, carbon tax.

I think the budget should be reviewed by more than the board. Cities have public hearings on certain parts and then on the budget so it seems the power agencies should have multiple public hearings and perhaps the cities could have them as well since they are part of the power agencies. I have heard local officials (and my parents live a small electric city) say the salaries are out of whack and the people are paid too much and I have heard them say there are too many lawyers running up tabs. I don't think anyone is shocked over the salaries - like I said I have heard my hometown mayor say it. Actually I think he thought they were even higher. I have heard them talk about trips and spending too especially drinking so it also seems there should be some compliance with same rules as state and local government like no alcohol. One legislator told me he had been to expensive dinners hosted by the group.

I have a question - if you are a local official, why get paid to be on this board. why would you not do it for free. most local officials do not do it for the money so why is this group different. The payment sure does make it seem they are beholden and not thinking as clearly. why not try it for free and get some more rotation. again, my hometown mayor says the small towns have no real chance to get on. Then there would not be an issue with them with the appearance of making so much money off the entity. why in the world would a legislator go lobby for them and then go on the board. that just looks bad. that does point to why not ethics reporting. if you have nothing to hide, why not. everyone else has to.

and my last point, the CEO can respond to this stuff. Just be straight and speak up. Why the cloak and dagger routine with their own cities.

The Catch-22 with this idea:

I have a question - if you are a local official, why get paid to be on this board. why would you not do it for free

is similar to the conundrum of what to pay the General Assembly, right? If there's no renumeration at all, won't you get more folks who: a) can't afford to dedicate much time, or b) are independently wealthy/out of touch with regular folks, or c) are planning on getting money from some other dubious source?

Very possibly, the unethical and wasteful behavior by these individuals is a by-product of their belief that they can't succeed in duplicating the efficiencies of large utilities, so there's no point in even trying. The really important question is: are they right in assuming success is impossible? If so, more than just their behavior needs to change.

By the way, thanks for your compliments. :)

website announcing community meetings

will be up next week

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