To the Board of Commissioners of the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency
March 25, 2009
My name is George Fisher and I live in Rocky Mount.
First of all, pursuant to the three minute comment rule, I would ask the Board of Commissioners to accept my written comments and my list of questions. These questions represent me and other concerned rate payers in Rocky Mount who seek answers that only this Board and Electricities Management can provide.
I am a member of the grassroots organization Citizens for Fair Utilities.
I would be remiss to say that I represent every member in this organization, but I can say that my voice today is not unlike many in eastern North Carolina who are concerned about the high cost of utilities in these troubling economic times.
The high cost of electricity is literally breaking the financial backs of residents and small business in Rocky Mount and all of eastern North Carolina.
Rocky Mount, with an unemployment rate over 12 percent has a population of 20.1% below the poverty line. Of that number 29 percent are children under the age of 18 and 17% are 65 and over. These same numbers hold true for most of eastern North Carolina, if not worse.
The 32 NCEMPA cities demographically comprise a population of less than 300,000, 21 of those cities with less than 10,000 people. In fact, 17 cities have less than 5,000 residents.
Furthermore, according to Fitch, a bond rating company that rates NCEMPA bonds, the largest five debt owners are Kinston, Greenville, New Bern, Rocky Mount and Wilson. Collectively, these cities pay over 63% of NCEMPA debt. All of these five cities combined have a smaller population than Raleigh and two times smaller than Charlotte.
I and other Ratepayers can no longer sustain the NCEMPA debt load at our income level. Large industries in eastern NC can negotiate utility rates with cities; some industries -such as Hospria in Rocky Mount- produce their own electricity: but, we as individuals and small business cannot negotiate our rates. We rely on you, NCEMPA, the commissioners of this Board to diligently oversee and direct the operations of ElectriCities to the benefit of the ratepayers in eastern North Carolina.
We feel it would be useless, and we do not intend, to play the blame game at this point because the damage has already been done to me and other ratepayers in Rocky Mount and the other municipalities. But, we do intend to hold this Board and this body of Commissioners accountable for the actions of ElectriCities and those that act on the behalf of ElectriCities.
It is important for the ratepayers within the 32 municipalities to come forward and take the responsibility to say, “This is not right”. And, we are taking that responsibility today and at this moment.
We are asking this Board not to “rubber stamp” recommendations, policy, procedure, or a course of action put forth by ElectriCities management without asking the essential questions relevant to the issue and getting the necessary answers to produce transparency and accountability which would give this Board the tools it needs to safegard the economic viability of the citizens and ratepayers of eastern North Carolina.
Especially when the wholesale rate to municipalities is only a few cents cheaper than the retail rates of Progress Energy, Dominion, and Edgecombe Martin.
Especially when the Bond ratings of the Eastern Power Agency are so much different than the Bond ratings of the Western Power Agency.
Especially when the management decisions by ElectriCities have been called into question on several occasions ultimately resulting in the resignation of former CEO JesseTilton.
Any less action by the Commissioners of this Board, in light of the economic plight thrust upon local ratepayers, might possibly be construed, in some eyes, as a gross misfeasance relevant to the conduct of this Board and the discharge of its duties.
I ask that this Board carefully consider the cost cutting strategies as outlined in “ElectriCities can save money with simple cuts” and that the Board, to the best of its ability, logically answers the questions put before it as it relates to ElectriCities management , as outlined in “Questions for ElectriCities”.
I thank you in advance for your attention to these and other matters as it relates to a forthright and transparent dialog of utility rates in our area.
Citizens for Fair Utilities (member)
Encl: ElectriCities can save …
Questions for ElectriCities
1. How many lobbyists may be /are associated with ElectriCities and or the NCEMPA?
2. Who are the lobbyist,
a. their associates,
b. interns or assistance and
c. How much are they paid?
3. What lobbying efforts are employed, what are they lobbying for or against?
4. We would like to see detailed expense reports,
a. budgets, and
b. all financial data for the past three years.
5. How much is the advertising budget?
i. Is ElectriCities a contributor of NC SPIN?
ii. Does ElectriCities contribute to other organizations?
6. How much are paid for legal advice?
a. What are the firms?
b. Can we have financial data?
7. We would like expense reports specific to
a. Jessie Tilton,
b. Mike Colo,
c. Clay Norris and
d. Estherine Davis for the past three years.
8. Has ElectriCities paid for classes for E. Davis?
a. If so, why? Inaugural event? If so, why?
b. Did she give $5000 to the Black Caucus, if so why?
9. Has any lobbyist associated with ElectriCities lobbied for SB 46?
10. We ask for every legal expense for every department line by line.
11. We ask for every single expense associated with Estherine Davis and
a. Brenda Daniels.
12. We ask for the entire government relations expenses for the past two years – every expense.
13. We ask for the budget for government relations and every single expense against every single budget line.
14. Why are the Bond rating so much different between the Eastern Power Agency and the Western Power Agency?