High cost to county customers in holding out for a full sale 4

VERO BEACH ELECTRIC

COUNTY CUSTOMERS

WILL PAY

$62,742,000 MORE

WAITING FOR A FULL SALE*

 

From the time FPL first submitted its proposal to the City of Vero Beach on April 4, 2011, through October 1, 2016, Vero Electric’s county customers will have paid $62,742,000 more than they would have paid, if the city had simply transacted a partial sale, setting county customers free.

*Glenn Heran estimates Vero Electric’s 33,000 customers paid about $40,000 more per day from April 4, 2011 through January 1, 2012.  Heran estimates the rate differential to be $58,000 per day as of January 1, 2013.  Sixty percent of Vero Electric customers are located outside the city limits.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Just as commentator Keith Obermann once counted the days since former President George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq, utility activist Steven Faherty sends out a monthly email updating his followers on how much Vero Electric’s customers have paid in unnecessarily high rates since Florida Power & Light first made a tentative offer on April 4, 2011.

Faherty’s monthly “Utility Update,” which is formatted much like the parody above, makes no mention of the fact that during the time the city has been bound by a memo of understanding with FPL, it has been unable to pursue other options for lowering rates, including simply setting county customers free by selling Vero Electric’s service area outside the city limits to FPL, or to some other power provider who will agree to match FPL’s rates for at least a few years. More…

Emerson jazz series concludes March 10 Reply

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The Emerson Center jazz concert series featuring the Space Coast Jazz Orchestra concludes on Sunday, March 10 at 2:30 pm.  From the Flat Screen to the Silver Screen featuring some of the most recognizable music from TV and the movies, all in jazz settings.

Advance tickets of $20 for the performance may be purchased online atwww.TheEmersonCenter.org, or by calling the Box Office at 772-778-5249. Tickets at the door are an additional $5. Students 18 years of age and under (with identification) are admitted free.

Customers file class-action suit against FPL 12

Editor’s Note:  In an effort to supplement coverage in the local media on Florida Power and Light, InsideVero occasionally offers links to stories published in the south Florida media.

By Al Pefley 

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) – A lot of Florida Power and Light  customers in south Florida who lost power and shivered in the freezing cold the weekend of January 9-10 are taking FPL to court.

Attorneys for tens of thousands of FPL customers in Broward and Palm Beach County have just filed a class-action lawsuit, accusing FPL of negligence.

The lawsuit says quote: “…old, undersized or otherwise inadequate FPL transformers were incapable of handling the energy load imposed upon them…”

Read more:

http://www.wflx.com/global/story.asp?s=11818658

Mayfield’s House Bill 733 is more meddling than statesmanship 2

BY MARK SCHUMANN

State Rep. Debbie Mayfield’s proposed legislation addressing municipal utility boundaries amounts to little more than her taking sides in a dispute between the city and the county.

The two governments are at odds over who will provide water, wastewater and sewer service to the south barrier island when the current franchise agreement expires in 2017.  Unfortunately, Mayfield is dragging the Florida Legislature into the dispute. More…

Palm Beach Post column on FPL sheds light on what may lie ahead Reply

Editor’s Note:  In an effort to supplement coverage in the local media on Florida Power and Light, InsideVero occasionally offers links to stories published in south Florida newspapers.  The following opinion column was published in the Feb. 10 edition of the Palm Beach Post.

Schultz: How Florida Power & Light turned up the political power

Disclosure of anonymous letter-writer explains change since 2010.

By Randy Schultz

Editor of the Editorial Page

On the outside, Florida Power & Light looks like the same company it was three years ago. Many of us have “smart meters” now, but otherwise the lights come on and the bills come each month.

On the inside, though, FPL is different. That difference helps to explain last week’s story about FPL’s successful effort to recover nearly $1 million from a former executive who considered himself to be a whistle-blower.

Read more:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/schultz-how-florida-power-light-turned-up-the-poli/nWKxT/

If Council is not going to consider financial consequences, voters should Reply

Without giving voters a specific plan for closing the $3 million budget gap that will result from the sale of Vero Electric, the Council is, in effect, forcing voters to cast their ballots blindfolded.

Without giving voters a specific plan for closing the $3 million budget gap that will result from the sale of Vero Electric, the Council is, in effect, forcing voters to cast their ballots blindfolded.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Frustrated with his inability to communicate clearly, a man said to his wife, “You may think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure that what I said is exactly what I meant.”

At Tuesday’s special call City Council meeting to consider the proposed asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and Florida Power & Light, Mayor Craig Fletcher said, “We are here to talk about the purchase and sale agreement, not whether or not it’s going to be financially feasible for the City of Vero Beach to do this.”

One can only hope Fletcher’s statement wasn’t reflective of exactly what he meant.  From the tone and course of the discussion, though, it is clear the Council majority of Tracy Carroll, Pilar Turner and Fletcher are ready to ask voters to approve the sale of the electric system without first explaining exactly what it will mean to the city. More…

The latest local fiction: “FPL will pay the city about $179 million, which will help keep taxes low.” Reply

By sacking dissenters and then stacking the Utilities and Finance Commissions with members who support their views, Council members Tracy Carroll, Craig Fletcher and Pilar Turner and enjoying the sounds in "Echo Canyon."

By sacking dissenters and then stacking the Utilities and Finance Commissions with members who support their views, Council members Tracy Carroll, Craig Fletcher and Pilar Turner are enjoying the sounds in “Echo Canyon.”

BY MARK SCHUMANN

Brace yourself.  The many false claims being made in advance of the March 12 referendum on the sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light may cause the political Geiger counter to register dangerously high levels of disingenuousness and dishonesty. More…

Mayfield introduces bill that would aid county in utility dispute with city 1

Rep. Debbie Mayfield

Rep. Debbie Mayfield

VERO BEACH – State Representative Debbie Mayfield introduced a bill in the Florida House yesterday that essentially seeks to subject municipal utilities, such as Vero Beach’s, which have service areas extending beyond their corporate limits, to Public Service regulation.

Mayfield’s bill covers not only municipalities with wastewater and sewer service, but also those with electric and natural gas service as well.

If passed, the bill will prohibit municipal utilities from expanding beyond their corporate limits without the consent of the board of county commissioners, as the City of Fellsmere recently proposed to do with its natural gas service.

At least two key provisions in Mayfield’s House Bill 733 address the current dispute between the city and the county.  The two governments are at odds over which will serve the unincorporated area of the south barrier island when the franchise agreement expires in 2017.

Mayfield’s bill would exempt the county from PSC rules prohibiting parallel utility systems by allow the county to construct its own system on the south barrier island, rather than purchasing the city’s water, wastewater and sewer infrastructure there.

However, for the county to serve the south barrier island, it would also have to connect its mainland system to the island by boring under the Indian River Lagoon.  The estimated cost for a subaqueous crossing of the lagoon has been estimated at a  minimum of $5 million.

Before the county can take over service to the south barrier island, either through purchasing the city’s system or constructing its own, it would first have to conduct a referendum or a mail survey of the customers in the affected area, and would have to wait until the current franchise agreement expires.

Late last month, the county mailed such a survey to residents on the south barrier island.

From Vero to Zero 4

BY MILT THOMAS

Milt Thomas

Milt Thomas

One story dominating local news for some time is the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. Arguments for and against the sale have been presented, reported, debated, dissected, obfuscated and elucidated. The most popular argument in favor of a sale is that the cost of electricity will be substantially lower. Most Vero Electric customers live on the mainland where the jobs are. Electric bills represent a much greater burden for people in low paying jobs, fixed income retirees and the unemployed. A reduction in electric bills is a more powerful incentive to them than it is to professionals or high net worth retirees. More…

Council moves one step closer to signing power deal Reply

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VERO BEACH – Tuesday’s special call meeting of the City Council opened with Councilman Richard Winger requesting that consideration of the asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and Florida Power & Light be postponed two weeks.  Winger said he thought the Council should have more time to analyze the revised version of the agreement sent out over the weekend. More…

Dancing for Puppy Love Reply

Kitty Wagner, Martin Lavander, Kerry Firth, Mark Wygonik

Kitty Wagner, Martin Lavander, Kerry Firth, Mark Wygonik

Kerry Firth, one of ten star dancers in this season’s 5th Annual Dancing with Vero’s Stars, benefiting the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition and Riverside Theatre, recently volunteered her time to help raise funds for the Blue Ribbon Charitable Foundation’s pet friendly Puppy Love on Parade.

The event was held outside of the Blue Star Wine Bar on Sunday, February 10.   Hundreds of pets brought their owners out for music, food, drinks, contests and a doggie kissing booth.  Proceeds from the event were to assist pets of Indian River County including the K-9 officers and the Pet Medical Assistance Program which helps people who cannot afford medical care for their pets.

Tickets for Dancing with Vero’s Stars, to be held at Riverside Theatre on Saturday evening May 11, are now on sale at $200 for exclusive seating, $150 for premium seating and $100 for general seating. They may be purchased by visiting the Riverside Theatre Box Office in person, calling the Riverside Theatre Box Office directly at 231-6990 or online at www.Dancingwithverostars.com.

 

In workshop set for Tuesday morning, Council will consider deal with FPL Reply

Though Councilman Richard Winger submitted 13 agenda items for tomorrow’s special call meeting of the Council,  only the first six of his requested points for consideration appeared on the city website at of 7 p.m. Monday.  The meeting is being held to consider the proposed asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and Florida Power & Light.

If all of the items Winger proposed for review are covered at tomorrow’s 9:30 a.m. workshop, the Council will consider the nature of the city’s obligation to secure FMPA approval of the deal, FPL’s level of commitment to Vero Electric employees, the status of the plan to give FPL the former postal annex site, lease arrangements that may enable FPL to avoid local taxes, concerns over pension obligations to union-represented employees, the question of the potential cost to the city if the closing is delayed beyond January 2014 by as much as three years, and more. More…

Up With People to perform March 1 and 2 at VBHS Performing Arts Center Reply

IV.Up With People

The multi-national cast of Up with People, which has toured 38 countries around the world during the last 47-years, has announced that Vero Beach will be a stop on their 2013 tour. 

While in Vero Beach between February 25 and March 4, Up with People will spend time participating in service projects and live with local host families. Up with People is currently recruiting families to host international cast members during their stay in Vero Beach. The sharing goes both ways…while families share their traditions and local attractions, the cast members share their experiences and cultures. By the end of their five-month world tour, the cast will visit dozens of communities throughout the United States, Asia, and Mexico. More…

Coy and Minner to address Indian River Neighborhood Association Luncheon Feb. 12 Reply

Sebastian Councilwoman Andrea Coy and City Manager Al Minner will address the Indian River Neighborhood Association at a noon luncheon Tuesday, February 12,  to be held at Capt. Hiram’s in Sebastian.  Coy and Minner will discuss plans for Sebastian’s future, with particular emphasis on the ideas for the river front.

The luncheon is open to the public, and the lunch cost is $15 payable at the door.  Reservations are strongly suggested. Contact the Indian River Neighborhood Association at  772-794-4762, or by email at exdir.irna@comcast.net.

Contract signing may put utility system in limbo for years 10

The proposed sale of Vero Electric for FPL's offer, valued at $197 million, will net the city just $4 million.  Councilmen Jay Kramer and Richard Winger both believe a partial sale would net the city more than $50 million.

BY MARK SCHUMANN

When the City Council voted to hold a binding referendum on the sale of Vero Electric March 12, it adopted the following language.

Do you approve of the sale and disposition of the City of Vero Beach electric utility and substantially all of its assets for the purpose of exiting the electric utility business under terms substantially similar to the asset purchase and sale agreement between the City and Florida Power & Light Company?

At the time the wording of the referendum question was approved, the asset purchase and sale agreement between the city and FPL, as well as the power purchase agreements between the city, FPL and the Orlando Utilities Commission, called for a closing in January 2014.

Since December 8, when the council first approved the referendum wording, a key provision in the contract has changed substantially, namely the closing date.  Because it is now obvious the city will remain obligated to the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s 15-member All Requirement Project through September 30, 2016, FPL, the OUC and the city’s transactional attorneys changed the contract to provide for a three-year window – from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016. More…

Corvette fans fill McKee Botanical Gardens Reply

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BY CRAIG RESTLE

As one entered the 2013 Vero Beach Corvette show at McKee Botanical Gardens, you could not have helped been taken aback by the first display.  A stunning 1953 original Corvette positioned side-by-side with a brand-new 2013 60 year anniversary Corvette.

There, in one view, the history of the Chevrolet Corvette: America’s only true sports car.Vero Beach and The Treasure Coast’s proud Corvette fans and owners were everywhere, both in the show and in the parking lot. In fact, I arrived at 11 AM virtually one hour after the show began only to be guided by the police away from the overflowing lot to a makeshift lot down the road.  Luckily, a shuttle service took participants back to the show and then back to their car when the show was over. More…

Lagoon symposium: Should county commissions take the lead in preservation efforts? 2

At the second annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, participants discussed ways of taking more effective action to preserve one of North America's most ecologically diverse estuaries.  Reducing storm water runoff, and possibly reversing the flow of draining canals such as the one above were among the suggestions discussed at the symposium.

At the second annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium sponsored by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, participants discussed ways of taking more effective action to preserve one of North America’s most ecologically diverse estuaries. Reducing storm water runoff, and possibly reversing the flow of drainage canals such as the one pictured above were among the suggestions discussed at the symposium.

More…

County’s attempt to take on south barrier island water and sewer service defies logic Reply

BY MARK SCHUMANN

In the early 1980s, when the county first considered connecting the unincorporated area of the south barrier island to its mainland water and sewer system, it was determined the cost could not be justified.

Explaining the county’s decision to forgo building a subaqueous crossing of the Indian River Lagoon, then county utility director Terry Pinto was quoted in a newspaper article saying, “We believe the most cost efficient method to serve the South Beach is to let the city do it.” More…

Editorial Cartoon Reply

IV.Ostrich

While the Council troika continues to pretend the city will be able to sell its electric system before late 2016, if at all, 34,000 customers are stuck paying unnecessarily high rates.  There are viable options, but those alternatives, including the formation of a utility authority and/or a sale of the 22,000 customers outside the city limits, will never be identified and understood so long as a majority of the the Council continues to pretend all is well with the proposed sale of Vero Electric to FLorida Power & Light.