Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ira Gershwin said it best

Letter to the editor in this week's Sandersville Progress

Three years ago Washington County leaders got “engaged” to Cobb EMC, a non-profit co-op entangled in a web of court cases costing co-op members. The shadow of those questionable deals and bad decisions now stretches all the way to Washington County.

Perhaps our local leaders didn’t know the true extent of Cobb EMC’s problems when they signed on for Plant Washington. But now, after repeated court battles which have cost the co-op millions of dollars and forced the members to take THEIR co-op to court at their own personal expense, the writing is on the wall in big bold letters.

Dwight Brown’s legal woes are not over. On July 7, Brown was re-indicted, and charged with additional crimes. In addition to the 31 original counts of racketeering, theft, and making false statements, Brown is now charged with four counts of intimidating witnesses. The District Attorney has not ruled out the possibility of more indictments against other people.

The legal problems aren’t over for the Cobb EMC Board of Directors either. Judge Schuster has ordered the Board of Directors to appear in his courtroom on August 12. The ‘Marietta Daily Journal,” a respected newspaper in Cobb County owned by Ben Tarbutton III’s father-in-law, recently described the Cobb EMC Board of Directors as “unindicted co-conspirators.”  

Did our local leaders know about the dirty dealings at Cobb EMC? We hope not.
We may have fallen in love with Cobb EMC and all the pretty promises it made to us together with Power4Georgians. Four other EMCs called off the engagement two years ago.

 It’s not too late to call off this wedding. Some people will be disappointed. Feelings might be hurt. If we stop now, no one has to buy a bride’s maid dress they don’t like and will never wear again. There won’t be a mess to clean up after the raucous reception. A lot of money can be saved.

This engagement has run its course. Ira Gershwin said it best, “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

Katherine Helms Cummings
FACE Executive Director
Washington EMC member 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dean Alford's " Ford Pinto of Power Plants"

This letter appears in the July 12 edition of The Sandersville Progress  

Not long after Plant Washington was announced, Power4Georgians conducted some field trips for small groups of people, including elected officials, to visit a South Carolina coal-fired power plant with a proposed expansion. P4G proudly pointed to that facility as a role model for Plant Washington.

Has anyone noticed that Dean Alford isn’t mentioning that plant anymore?  Well it may be because the expansion to build another unit was cancelled.  The company announced that due to falling energy demand, and the increased costs of using coal, the project, called “the Ford Pinto of Power Plants,” is now trying to sell equipment and parts to cover their losses. As published in the company’s  annual report,  In 2010, Santee Cooper is rethinking ways to help customers reduce their electricity consumption, working towards our goal to meet 40 percent of our energy needs by 2020 from non-greenhouse gas emitting resources, biomass fuels, conservation and energy efficiency.”

P4G also isn’t talking about a Kentucky plant dropped by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC, similar to our EMCs) late last year.  FACE provided the Washington EMC with a copy of the audit conducted by the Kentucky Public Service Commission that influenced EKPC’s rejection of the KY plant.  Members of Washington EMC should be aware that in our state, the Public Service Commission has no authority over EMCs; therefore we must count on our Board to make good fiscal decisions. We have no one else to appeal to if they make bad ones.

After 3.5 years of asking the EMC Board repeated questions, FACE members have finally learned that there is no independent study that supports assertions by our EMC Board and Power4Georgians that the success of the Plant Washington project is based on an independent analysis.  “Power4Georgians Plant Washington Coal-Fired Power Plant: Too High a Price for Consumers,”  released by Georgia Watch on June 22nd, is another independent analysis  providing detailed information on why Plant Washington will increase our bills instead of saving us money.  FACE has posted the report on our web site at  EMC members can read it for themselves.         

In his response to the Georgia Watch report, Dean Alford of Power4Georgians implies that Plant Washington is necessary and economically viable, therefore worthy of funding.  It is misleading to speak about Plant Washington as if the $2.1 billion has been secured.   As of this date, no lender has funded Plant Washington.   Furthermore, studies show that there is an excess of electric capacity in our state.

FACE urges EMC members and Washington County taxpayers to learn for themselves why Plant Washington will cost most of us our hard earned dollars while a few very wealthy people are made even richer. 

Katherine Helms Cummings
FACE Executive Director

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New blogs on Cobb EMC and Plant Washington

There are two new blog postings that are worth a quick read. SACE has a post out about the report issued by Georgia Watch concerning a careful analysis of rate increases for EMC members involved in Plant Washington. This is one of several well researched reports, in stark contrast to the fact that the Washington EMC Board Chair Frank Askew said recently that there are NO independent studies making the case in favor of the plant.

Cobb EMC Owners Association members are working even harder now that elections will be held, and a new CEO must be hired. Judge Schuster has called the Cobb EMC Board of Directors on the carpet for their management of the co-op. Congratulations for all the hard work, and good luck as you go forward to make your co-op a reputable business in your community.