VERO BEACH ELECTRIC
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…
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.
If there is any one secret of success,
it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view
and see things from that person’s angle
as well as from your own.
– Henry Ford
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…”
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…
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 weeks story about FPLs successful effort to recover nearly $1 million from a former executive who considered himself to be a whistle-blower.
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…
It isn’t your job to like me.
That’s my job. – Byron Katie
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…
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.
BY 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…
In one of twelve agenda items Councilman Richard Winger presented for yesterday’s special call meeting of the City Council, he presented an outline of the steps the city must take to resolve its contractual obligations with the Florida Municipal Power Agency. More…
After seeing three earlier plans for easing traffic congestion at Beachland Elementary turned back because of objections by central beach residents and the City of Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Commission, the School Board unanimously approved a fourth option Tuesday. More…
The Indian River County Commission contracts with the Senior Resource Association to run the GoLine bus system.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The County Commission yesterday delayed taking action on extending the county’s contract with the Senior Resource Association to operate the GoLine bus service. More…
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…
Rivers know this: there is no hurry.
We shall get there some day.
– A.A. Milne
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.
The best thinking has been done in solitude.
The worst has been done in turmoil.
– Thomas A. Edison
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…
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…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The eye through which I see God
is the same eye through which God sees me;
my eye and God’s eye are one eye,
– Meister Eckhart
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…
Franz Joseph Glacier, South Island New Zealand – Photo by John Maher, Portsmouth, NH – Vero Beach, FL
Placing the blame or judgment on someone else
leaves you powerless to change your experience.
Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments
gives you the power to change them.
– Byron Katie
Do not overlook good actions, thinking they are of no benefit;
even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.
Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small;
however small a spark may be,
it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.
– The Buddha
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…
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.