Monday, April 16, 2007

Electric Bills in Jasper County

In my post titled "The High Cost of Food" a mention was made with respect to how some of those costs for food are hidden in our utility bills.

Little did I know at the time how much of those costs are hidden in our Jasper County REMC bills.

For example, did you know that the members of REMC -- which are customers -- namely you and me -- PAID for FREE electric installation to the big dairy CAFO on Hwy 14.

Here's how it works for major commercial installations, according to the Jasper County REMC Policy:

The REMC will estimate the cost of required construction when an application is received requesting electrical service, whether overhead or underground construction. Also, an estimate will be made as to the two and one-half (2 1/2) years expected revenue less power costs, from the permanent and continued use by the member requesting electrical service.

If the estimated revenue exceeds the estimated construction cost, the customer will received service without charge for providing such service...

Believe me, I got a sour taste in my mouth when I found out my utility payments actually helped pay for a CAFO to get connected... to the tune of about $100,000.

Why are we, as members, paying for free service to them through increases in our electric bills? What else are we paying for that we don't know about? Is Jasper County REMC co-op in such a profitable position that we can afford to give these types of services away? What, in fact, is the financial situation of our co-op? Are we debt-free? Or are we in debt?

These are all great questions to ask right now.

Why?

Because the Jasper County REMC Annual Meeting is coming up on June 12, 2007.

As members, this Annual Meeting is our chance to vote for Directors that are elected by us to oversee JC REMC's management, to look at such antiquated policies (like, in my humble opinion, the 30-year-old free installation policy mentioned above) and make changes that can save us money -- and REDUCE rather than increase our electric bills.

Watch for the card you get with your electric bills -- keep it -- and use it to show up for the vote on June 12/2007.

Before you cast your vote, make sure you do a bit of homework to find out what each candidate plans to do to help decrease our bills while at the same time make Jasper County REMC the best dang co-op in the State.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll bet if you check the remc financials it makes way more money per kilowatt on that dairy than they make on your house including amoritising the install of power to the facility. That would mean you are being subsidised by the dairy. In a coop that is how it works. You have once again spoken without knowledge. do you like pork?

Kevin said...

Boy, another slap in the face to the Honest citizens of this county. What's next... free healthcare to the owners of the CAFO's to use Jasper County's new hospital that we will be paying 2/3's the cost of? No wonder why they are so rich, they don't have to pay for anything. I think this REMC thing and the new hospital taxes will now affect the entire county and not just some of the people who are fighting the CAFO issue. Maybe upsetting all of us will finally bring out the voters and get rid of the corrupt people who are sitting pretty in their (not for long!) positions. Now what we really need are honest people who are interested in running for these positions, and give these people competition! Too many of these positions go unchallenged. The revolution has started and times are a changin'!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Karen-capitalism is the great leveler. Revolutions start with hungry people-your revolution will result in hungry people. No corruption Karen just ethical business. We do have th freedom in this country to start and operate businesses within the context of the law. Daairies pay the bills for the county. I am thankful for them. I believe Cuba has a system of goverment where there is small farms. I wonder what the people would say about quality of life and services.

Anonymous said...

They are rich because they work hard life is no harder on you than it is on them.

Anonymous said...

context of the law DOESNT MEAN BRINGING LEAD,MERCURY,ARSENIC in our backyards yea you guys work hard for your money by huge political contributions GO BACK TO THE NETHERLANDS look what happened there!! thats why your here!! the law you speak of is terrible here IDEM considers a large dairy 700 cows!THATS ANOTHER REASON YOUR HERE

Anonymous said...

THE ONLY PROBLEM WITH CUBA IS THE KING DICTATOR KINDA LIKE OUR THREE (COMMISIONERS)KINGS OF CAFOS

Anonymous said...

"go back to the Netherland?"(I am not a dairy farmer) What is that! These guys are Americans. In America we have the freedom to succeed. Success comes from hard work, determination, risk to reward. However terrible you feel the law is it is the law. America is governed by law. We all as Americans have equal opportunity to succeed.

Anonymous said...

and the right to use the courts something your kind is try squash YOU ARE ABSOLUTLY RIGHT THIS IS AMERICAN AND WE ALL HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WATCH THE NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

kmyers said...

Wow! I never knew a simple post about the upcoming REMC Annual Meeting and Director elections would draw such a flurry of emotional responses.

What's interesting to me is how most of the pro-CAFO responses seem to be bent on personally attacking me (or any other anti-CAFO commenters) rather than making any attempt to intelligently discuss the subject.

To the first anonymous commenter, the installation is NOT being amortised. It was free.

The policy in question is quoted directly from the REMC Policy book.

There is no equality in that policy. Instead there is one policy for some members, and another for the rest. That is NOT the way a NON-PROFIT co-op is supposed to work. It just happens to be a very old policy that's been on the books for quite some time that I happen to think needs to be revisited.

Although you were mistaken in your facts, you did raise some interesting questions.

For example, I wonder if they pay the same rate per kilowatt as I do... And also, I wonder if they are planning to add a digester/electric generation system to their operations (as other CAFOs in this region have) in order to reduce their reliance on the co-op for power? If so, it kind of makes that free installation perk look pretty bad for all co-op members.

This goes to the other Anonymous commenter too, who wrote, "you are being subsidised by the dairy."

Don't even get me started on subsidies. I'll leave that for a future post...

I would like to point out -- the co-op is a NON-PROFIT entity. We have no choice of who provides electric service to our homes. If we want electricity, we have to buy it from REMC. There is no competition for them. How does this translate into freedom?

My only alternative would be to invest thousands of dollars (maybe tens of thousands of dollars) to install either solar and/or wind powered electric generation systems to produce power for my home.

Interestingly enough, we are currently investigating such alternatives -- the reason being because we want to reduce our "carbon footprint" and contribute to solutions for the sustainable future of our planet. I'll be bringing more on that subject as we learn more in the months ahead. But I digress...

Speaking of ethical business practices and equal opportunity for all to succeed... when businesses are allowed to squash the rights of individuals, trespass onto their properties, seriously impact the environment surrounding them and destroy the quality of life for those forced to endure their presence in their communities, and erode values of property and homes that some have spent a lifetime investing their own sweat and equity into... I would say ethics have been thrown out the window. This does not paint a picture of equal rights at all.

This is supposed to be a democracy, land of the free, the land of opportunity and freedom for all. And yet, even when an overwhelming majority vote against something happening in their community, their pleas are virtually ignored in favor of a very small minority. It's kinda sounding a bit like Cuba to me -- where citizens are being dictated to while laws are used against them to force them to "swallow it or get out."

Contrary to what you might like others to believe -- I am not on any kind of crusade. Nor am I anti-agriculture... nor anti-livestock farming...

And no, I'm not even a vegetarian. Surprised?

But I will -- and do -- pay more for our beef by buying pasture raised beef. And whenever and where ever I can, I support small farmers through my purchasing decisions and actions.

To CAFO owners and supporters: Don't say small farms do not do their part in our world. Don't dismiss their contributions out of hand. In times of national crisis, I personally see them as far more important to holding the fabric of our nation together.

In my humble opinion, the more livestock farming is concentrated, the more our food security is threatened. Just one small disease can wipe out a herd on a massive scale in very little time.

Additionally, the competition for land to be used for feed vs. food in order to support these larger livestock operations is already impacting prices in other food commodities. Land is a finite resource. There is only so much land to go around and not all of it suitable to crops for food.

I know farmers work very hard for what they earn. And a great deal of the problems in that arena are not because of consumers or rural residents that don't want a CAFO in their backyard, but are rather caused by the industry itself. I mean, seriously, it's rediculous IMHO that a small handful of meatpackers across the nation are controlling so much of the livestock industry. For example;

"Stallman cited trends that illustrate this, including the share of steer and heifer slaughter for the four largest beef packers increasing from 36 percent to 80 percent from 1980 to 2004 and the share of hog slaughter for the four largest packers increasing from 32 percent to 64 percent from 1985 to 2004. He also noted that four companies currently control 50 percent of the market for broilers, while the three largest soybean processors control more than 70 percent of that market." (link)

And then, there is the "integrated marketing" approach that is forcing so many smaller farms out of business entirely.

It's no wonder, regardless what size of farm you own, it's difficult to make a buck these days. And don't even get me started on how milk prices are set and controlled in this country...

When barriers to entry keep getting steeper and steeper, the companies within that industry become what is known as oligopies -- or in some cases, monopolies -- and in both of these cases, result in less and less competition in the marketplace. That's precisely why they are governed by a different set of rules and regulations ...and oligopies and monopolies are certainly DO NOT provide equal opportunities for everyone and anyone to enter the market.

But I've gotten off track...

This post is meant to be about OUR CO-OP and managing it well so the cost of electric can go down -- not up.

If you have suggestions that may help accomplish this, I'd love to hear them.

Anonymous said...

Did you know our REMC is in debt right now for over 8 million dollars and seeks to borrow another 2 million? Debt free think agin, the dairies get a reduced rate , much less than home owners, check it out. The Directors also get free health care, free trips , all expenses paid, now who do you think is paying for all these perks? We all own the REMC yet are kept in the dark about the freebies given away, Nellie Price

Anonymous said...

Karen isn't Diane Richardsons husband on the board of REMC

kmyers said...

Yes he is... in fact, I hear the CEO would love to get rid of Mr. Richardson because, as some gossipers have said, "He asks way too many questions. Hodnett doesn't like that."

William F. Hodnett is the CEO for REMC. I guess he doesn't like having to be accountable for how he spends the co-op's money.

Apparently the CEO doesn't even have to file expense reports. Rumor has it Hodnett wanted to fly one of his secretaries down to Vegas after one of their meetings for some kind of admin thing.

I have a copy of the 2003 Year In Review... it's no wonder the Admin and General operating expenses are so high - almost $1 Million.

The scary part is the Interest on Long Term Debt - almost a quarter million $$$ there. I hope they don't plan driving the co-op even deeper into debt.

I also hope we can get more Directors elected that ask tough questions and make some positive changes over there... before the new Rate Investigation Study takes place. From what I hear, they're paying someone somewhere between $16K-$18K to come in and review things so they can jack up our rates again. I feel sorry for those REMC members living on a fixed income. That's gonna hurt them big time!