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Utility’s rate increases cause concern

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By The Staff

Editor:

Shelby Energy Cooperative has filed a request to increase rates as much as 15 percent on top of an additional 6 percent rate increase from East Kentucky Power, Shelby Energy’s power supplier.

I believe Shelby Energy has created a veil of secrecy about our cooperative’s operation and management that causes the member-customer to pay more money for less service.

Shelby Energy has existed for about 70 years, but only recently did line workers elect to accept union protection due to poor management and safety concerns. Attorneys hired at rates as high as $800 an hour by a union-resistant Shelby Energy management have cost Members-Customers more than $153,000 in legal fees.

The spendthrift ways of our cooperative continues even now. The Public Service Commission’s audit was completed mid 2009 with a 150 page report. To date, only a few of the recommended changes have been made. It was noted in the audit that Shelby Energy already has higher than average rates than the average electric utility in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

This is borne out by the fact that while many member-customers are losing their jobs and homes, senior staff members have been receiving 7 percent to 10 percent pay increases for the past three years. 

New trucks have been purchased (without any bid process) while other perfectly good trucks sit idle. 

One of the newest examples of financial mismanagement is the three million dollars earmarked for “smart meters,” while the C.E.O., Debbie Martin, couldn’t tell the P.S.C. at the recent rate adjustment hearing what even one meter costs.

It has become obvious that the management and board of directors are not concerned about addressing the concerns and questions of member-customers. They missed that opportunity at the annual membership meeting and their response to the letter to the editor July 7, 2010 was less than forthcoming. You can and should follow the history of rate adjustment requested increases along with Shelby Energy expenditures at http://psc.ky.gov/. Then go to Commission Records, non-electronic cases, 2009 cases, 2009-00410.

The carefree spending and lack of quality leadership must stop. Voice your desire for change to your board members today. Call the Public Service Commission at Phone (502) 564-3940; fax (502)-564-3460; hotline 1-800-772-4636 to voice your concerns.

Paul Wilson Simpsonville