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Some alternatives to consider

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jeddle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jeddle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Some alternatives to consider
    Posted: Sep 13 2014 at 1:32pm
The way I see it, we don't have to sit back and take it for another four years. There are always alternatives. The alternatives I would like to bring up are:

1)  Ask council to place on the agenda a vote, up or down, to allow choice in Coleman.
Any citizen can  approach council during a council meeting during the visitors speaking on matters not on the agenda and ask for an agenda item for the next meeting.

2)  If council votes NO, get a petition together with the number of signatures required by our Home-Rule Charter to again ask for a vote for choice.
If the vote is still NO, the Charter requires that the matter be put on a ballot for election to approve or defeat choice. (You can skip #1 and proceed directly to #2.)

3)  Ask city management to determine what would be involved in a buy-out of the contract with AEPEP and provide a cost/benefit analysis of such a buy-out, keeping in mind that the city would still own the transmission and distribution system and would be eligible for franchise fees from REPs to offset the buy-out expense if they offer choice. Plus the city could reduce the amount of money being spent in Light Production and Distribution.

4)  With said cost/benefit analysis in hand, ask for the possibility of getting out of the electricity business as a municipally owned utility altogether by selling and using the proceeds to pay off any debt incurred in buying out the AEPEP contract.  Again, you need a cost/benefit analysis to determine what kind of hole you may be digging--or not.

Always keep in mind that you have to be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. If we have choice, we will be at the mercy of city council and city manager on how they raise money that might no longer be available from the Utility Fund to transfer to the General Fund for services and salaries. I fear we cannot expect they will find ways to suck it up and tighten the city's belt until we can get over the hump of a change in the modus operandi. Plus, we can rest assured that CM will be taking his orders from the "county."

Rebuttal, please. 


Edited by jeddle - Sep 13 2014 at 1:51pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 13 2014 at 2:13pm
The key to this being successful is to show the TRUE income vs the TRUE expenses which are directly related to the production (including purchase of course) and distribution of electricity to the city (and the cost to the citizens.)

Basically, a P/L of the electrical department's figures (actual figures not budgeted) without regard to transfers in or out of the general fund or any other fund.

Then once this information is available and validated (which we are working on), a cost analysis of the savings or benefits available between the options you stated in the later portion of your post as to the sale of the distribution system in its entirety which allow (force) us to fully retire some debt,  (reducing property taxes.), possibly to the point of offsetting any required increases (of future property taxes) required to make up for any shortfall in income as a result of the loss of the electrical departments income.

Initial analysis at this time seem to reflect that the TRUE gain to the city from electrical resale only minimally covers the additional cost to the city to both distribute it and manage it.  These same analysis also show that it takes (if I recall) $10 dollars (from the citizen) to create $1 dollar of revenue  (for the city), which basically  says, we would be better off paying a dollar to the city somewhere else, rather than having them take $10.00, electrify it, and only profit by a $1.00

Bottom line -- There is a great deal of money swirling around due to our distribution, but very little ROI (return on investment.) There are many ways to make up for the small short fall in revenue, without crippling business and citizens with this evasive tax they cannot escape.

1st step -- The figures!












Edited by Craig - Sep 13 2014 at 3:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bluecat7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 29 2014 at 10:49pm
Utilities are not my area of expertise, but has anyone sought advice from the Public Utility Commission of Texas?

http://www.puc.texas.gov/ - https://www.puc.texas.gov/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jeddle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 30 2014 at 8:33am
The PUC exercises little authority over municipally owned utilities such as we have in Coleman. You can access this information on their site. Particularly, a succinct statement in FAQs at https://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/facts/faq/muni.aspx.

If there is any doubt, you can call them and be told that only your city council has control over your electricity service. Been down that road for sure. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bluecat7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 30 2014 at 6:22pm
Yes, I was able to navigate the PUC website as well.  I was just curious if anyone had contacted them in case they had other advice on how to proceed.  I'd imagine similar situations have occurred in other small towns.  Sounds like they did not offer much further direction.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 03 2014 at 2:52pm
I have started a spreadsheet which will (when it is fully completed), detail all facets of both the income received by the city for the transmission and distribution of electricity as well as all cost that I am aware of.

This spreadsheet will also attempt to demonstrate there are multiple options for funding the city other than extracting it though the resale of electricity via the current model which is severely flawed and inefficient, as the graphic below demonstrates.

Note: This work in progress is the result of much input from various people with greater knowledge than I who have done a considerable amount research so that I might begin to present these figures. A huge thank you to them!

This spreadsheet is being made available so that we can begin to receive feedback (from you) on this work.

The full spread sheet (which is far from being completed) is available at:
uploads/1/ElectricPL1.xls






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bluecat7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 03 2014 at 11:00pm
Very nice work on the spreadsheet.  A couple of questions:

How did you obtain the rate quote from Green Mountain Energy?  Is that who Santa Anna currently uses?

How did you come up with an average electricity consumption of 880 kwh?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Plainolejr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 04 2014 at 10:13am
One interesting point to consider is, the city charges itself (us) that same franchise fee plus the same amount in general services fees. The city will actually break even on the franchise fees but lose the general service fee.

What is a general service fee? I don't see any upgrades on the system.  Salaries, office expenses, materials, equipment and etc. are already sucked out of the utility income.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 04 2014 at 8:06pm
Re: Bluecat7:

Thank you for the thank you and the great questions.

1) Here is link to some of the providers that are available in the Santa Anna area.
http://electricityone.com/electric-savings.php?zipcode=76878
There may be additional providers as well in our area 76834 if given choice.
https://www.choosetexaspower.org/compare-offers.php?ZipCode=76834&submit-btn=Get+Rates

Essentially if we are given choice, then each residence and business can pick from a list of providers in our area. This list might eventually change if we were doing a search for 76834 using the 1st link once choice was an option in the Coleman area.

However, this is a bit more complex. None of the rates above are fixed in stone for us, since they are dependent on who delivers the power to us, not just the utility company that produces the power.

For example, if AEP Texas North (a subsidiary of AEP) were to purchase or lease our distribution system (which is a possibility), then we would be within their service area, which makes the rate below possible.

https://signup.greenmountain.com/files/0901751880e10a14.pdf

Yet, if Sharyland or TXU where to deliver the power to us, the rate for Green mountain might be higher, so a resident of Coleman might choose instead:

https://www.trieagleenergy.com/TX/residential/Default.aspx

With their details here.
https://www.trieagleenergy.com/TX/Residential/efl.aspx?rateID=7617
Which is lower than the Green Mountain figures I cited.

So, as you might suspect, we cannot ascertain the exact cost of power until we know who purchases or leases our T&D system; but what we do know, all of them allow access to a more competitive market than we have now, with the rates I have cited as being quite plausible.

So on to the 880 kWh question.

In looking at the rate charts in the links above, you can see the "apparent" rate decreases as you use more power. So by using 880Kwh, we gave the most benefit to the city for comparison purposes. (This is due to the fact there is a base charge.)

Basically the 880 kWh is to allow the most conservative comparison possible, i.e. use the most expensive rate bracket from which ever REP is chosen. However, in calculating the kWh price for the city MOU, we back calculated the rate by using total the city billed in dollars vs the total they purchased in kWh. This is a true average across the entire city, not based on 880 kWh. So again, we gave the city the benefit for comparison purposes.

880 kWh is what a small 1 or 2 bedroom home might use with limited A/C which is what a lot of our residences are having to do to make ends meet. A medium sized 3-4 bedroom home can easily use 3 times that amount.

Of note: There is a fixed charge from any provider including the city, so actual monthly cost savings for the average residence is likely to be quite variable, yet for most, the drop in price is likely to be significant if choice becomes an option.















Edited by Craig - Oct 04 2014 at 8:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 04 2014 at 8:37pm
@Plainolejr: One interesting point to consider is, the city charges itself (us) that same franchise fee plus the same amount in general services fees. The city will actually break even on the franchise fees but lose the general service fee.


Because the city is both charging itself for this cost and then latter booking it as income in the general operations, we simply took it out of the figures (see the yellow items) on the budget page.

For example, see the city budget item.

3370-5INTERNAL FRANCHISE FEE - 4%233,753233,753227,781

This movement of funds I am told is to book what might be available to the city if a 3rd party were to handle these services. Since the city is the provider of the service, they charge the fee, but later book it as income.

So, they will not loose anything on the general services, but will gain on the franchise fee.

You make an excellent point as to the general services fee. Just what is it? -- I have not gotten an answer to this. Perhaps Mr. Catoe will join in an clear this one up.

Thanks for bringing this up.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bluecat7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 04 2014 at 9:52pm
Craig, 

Thank you for your response and thank you to everyone who has worked on the spreadsheet.  I am for choice and it is nice to have some figures to back it up.

In fairness to the city, I would suggest that you subtract the hook-up fees, service charges, penalties and bad debt from your calculations to determine the city's revenue.  This ultimately effects the cost per citizen calculation.  These amounts really aren't included in a rate, and whatever supplier was chosen would have similar revenues which are not included in your Green Mountain rate calculation.   So, unless you are able to track down those amounts for Green Mountain, it seems unfair to use them in the rate calculation for the city. It won't change the numbers a lot, but makes for a more accurate comparison.  

Also, if we do gain choice in our electricity provider, citizens will have to be aware that this process can play out a little like your TV subscription.  Companies such as Green Mountain seem to have a reputation for "bait and switch" marketing, where you receive a very low introductory rate, and then your rate suddenly increases.


Overall, a very nice spreadsheet.  Nice work!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 05 2014 at 9:33am
You make a very valid (and insightful) point on the fees and penalties, I had actually realized this oversight while reviewing the back calculations in the process of writing the response to you yesterday. The total amount is small, but I will certainly revise it to insure we are working with figures that compare apples to apples.

Yes, the bait and switch tactic could certainly be an issue, however, there are a lot of reputable companies that each of us singularly would be able to apply our own judgement and preferences in deciding which combination suits us best. What we have now, is no option at all.






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 05 2014 at 12:27pm
The spreadsheet has been updated, removing the fees, penalties and hookup charges.
http://colemanconnected.com/forum/uploads/1/ElectricPL1.xls



Edited by Craig - Dec 16 2015 at 3:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 05 2014 at 3:03pm
Submitted by a 3rd party.

***********

Are there are other reasons why Coleman should not be in the Electrical business?


Yes.

  1. Safety, because it is expensive to adequately train, equip and supervise electrical employees;

  2. Economy of scale, Coleman cannot compete with larger companies in allocation of people and assets; and,

  3. The lesson Coleman learned, and is still learning, that it does not have the expertise to negotiate energy contracts or accurately predict energy costs.

  4. The citizens would benefit from the lower electrical rates paid by all the tax-supported entities in the City (School, County and City). And,

  5. Coleman citizens would benefit from the ad valorem taxes paid by a privately owned utility to other entities in the community – Hospital, School and County.


What happens if during the changeover we lose AEP before we are set up for choice?


The PUCT has provided for this eventuality with what is called a ‘provider of last resort’. In Coleman that provider would be WTU Retail Energy, LP for residential users and Reliant, or other, for non-residential. The interim rates would be approximately what users are paying now.



How much can we get for the distribution system and what will be done with proceeds from the sale?


The last evaluation was somewhere in the $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 range. Whatever the final sale price, funds will have to be escrowed for the General Obligation Bonds from the refinancing of the system debt. Assuming a sale by mid-2015, that would be about $2 million for the principal and sufficient funds to cover the interest payments, approximately $140,000. Then, unless other plans are made, the balance will probably go into the city’s general fund.


Will the city have to lay off employees if Coleman sells the electrical system?


No. They can be absorbed into other, currently short-handed, city departments.

Who would buy our system?


Two entities have expressed interest in the past, Coleman County Electrical Cooperative (CCEC) and AEP Texas North. Other providers in Texas that may have an interest are Oncor, CenterPoint (Reliant), Texas Electric Transmission and Distribution Service (TNMP), Sharyland, and possibly others.


If the city does not ‘opt in’ to the deregulated market for customer choice and sells the electrical system to the CCEC, the rates will depend on the terms of the existing AEPEP contract. At the end of that contract, rates will be whatever CCEC wishes to charge and Coleman citizens would again be locked in to a fixed rate.


If the city does ‘opt in’ to the deregulated market for customer choice and sells to AEP Texas North, or some other electricity delivery company, users will have a choice of market rates that may be higher or lower than those of CCEC. They will, however, be no worse off than most others in Texas and the rates should be just as competitive. There is a possibility that the CCEC could operate the Coleman portion of their system as a deregulated market and not change the rest of the CCEC system.



What incentive does AEPEP have to let us out of the existing contract?


None. However, AEPEP’s parent, AEP, has a double incentive to encourage its subsidiary to drop the contract.


First, the system is an income producing asset. If the city agrees to sell the system when it is no longer tied to the contract, AEP will have an opportunity to make an offer on the Coleman system for TNC. The AEP Texas North Delivery Charges in this area are $10.53 per month, per meter and 3.1257¢ per kWh. Coleman’s 2,450 meters x $10.53/mo. x 12 months is $309,582 per year. And, if the system delivers 32,475,485 kWh per year at a delivery charge of $0.031257/ kWh, that’s $1,015,086 per year in delivery charges. The system should gross, at current usage, approximately $1,324,668 per year. TNC’s net profit would probably result in a 5-6 year payback, which could be improved by growth in Coleman’s economy from lower electrical rates.


Second, AEP could get positive publicity by letting Coleman out of a contract that is such a nightmare for Coleman citizens. Conversely, AEP could get damaging publicity from enforcement of the contract, especially if the total economic effects of the contract result in a city bankruptcy.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 08 2014 at 6:10pm
The spreadsheet has been updated, more figures, and more comments.

http://colemanconnected.com/uploads/1/ElectricPL1.xls

Edited by Craig - Dec 16 2015 at 3:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 09 2014 at 8:36am
KTAB  news was here in Coleman this week interviewing residents and city leaders on the subject of high electric rates.

You can view the video on Big Country Home Page link below.


http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/story/d/story/high-electric-bills-a-burden-for-coleman-residents/62796/wEd8wxJs_UWd-4r8Ej0hMg
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Nancy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 09 2014 at 9:31am
Thanks for the link, Craig.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sjs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 10 2014 at 8:45pm
hey!  Thank ALL Y'ALL!!  Beginning to feel some sense of PRIDE for a change.  This makes such perfectly good sense... easy for even me to understand - can see the "domino effect" easily - makes a body wonder why our city fathers didn't do this for us previously!??  (ahem).  And the best part is that is really sounds doable!   They will really be forced to "bare theirs'" to come up with a reason to object to these options.  I mean, y'all have already done their homework for them... oh, and for me too!  Again - thanks for ALL THE HARD WORK, insight and common sense!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 11 2014 at 10:21am
@SJS,

We all really appreciate your comments. There are plenty of complexities ahead of us, but as you say they are very doable. Many options will need to be considered in depth, but with factual information, we can turn this into a real win for Coleman. 

As you know, doing nothing is simply not an option!




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 16 2014 at 10:06am
Here is the package given to the council member for review during the city council meeting today (10/16/14 6:00pm).

Entire package
uploads/1/CCPresentation101614.pdf

(First page below)

*************

Respectfully submitted for your consideration

 

              To the                       

City Council and City Management

of the City of Coleman, Texas

 

10/11/2014

 

 

 

Re: The municipally owned utility (MOU) operated by the city of Coleman.

By: The concerned citizens and business owners of Coleman Texas.

 

As we are all aware, the electrical rates paid by the citizens and business in Coleman are by far, considerably higher than the rates paid by our neighbors. In fact, we are not aware of any city or locality where rates are higher in the state of Texas. We believe this increased cost has a degenerative effect on both the quality and quantity of commerce in Coleman. In addition, the increased cost of electricity has a direct and profoundly negative impact on the financial well being of the citizens of Coleman. We also believe this degenerative self sustaining loop has; and will continue to, inflict exponentially severe stresses on our community.

 

In consideration of the above statement, we present to you an overview of our research, which we believe illustrates that the revenue made by the city of Coleman via the resale and distribution of electricity is considerably lower than has been previously discussed in budget meetings.  In addition, we believe the supporting figures demonstrate that this revenue source has an extremely low rate of return versus both the investment of capital and labor, as well as when compared against the excessive premiums paid by the consumers.

 

We also believe that the financial cost and indirect consequences to the citizens and businesses of Coleman, for the city of Coleman to operate as a MOU far outweigh the revenue that it generates.

 

Based on the above statements and supporting figures to follow, and the desire we know each of you has to ensure the city, businesses and citizens of Coleman are given every opportunity to prosper and live fruitful lives, to the best of your ability as a leader of this community, we respectfully ask the following motions be made and voted on.

 

 

1)      To re-instate the power cost recover fee of .07/kWh for both residential and commercial customers, effective and commencing the next billing cycle.

 

2)      In preparation for the potential sale or transfer of our T&D system, we authorize the city manager to, (a) seek an appraisal of the assets and/or resale value of our system, (b) prepare an estimate of extraordinary T&D system cost that may be incurred in the next 10 years, such as compliance issues or non-budgeted, but foreseeable capital outlays, (c) perform, via a 3rd party audit firm, a full audit of the P/L of the MOU, using actual revenue and expense figures for the last two fiscal years.

 

We ask that this audit include a summary of the potential economic impact on the citizens and businesses of Coleman, if the audit firm is capable of doing this type of analysis.

 

 

Thank you for your heartfelt consideration of the above. Following are supporting documents for your review.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Clint G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 17 2014 at 9:48am
Craig,
My name is Clint Gardner and I am General Manager of Coleman County Electric Coop.  I appreciate all of the work you have put into finding the best choice for the citizens of Coleman.  I also appreciate the members on this forum that have made positive comments about the cooperative. 
As you know, we have answered the City's RFP in 2010 and then resubmitted at least twice to see the interest the city might have in Coleman County Electric Cooperative purchasing the city and making it a part of our system and the cooperative.  We did extensive studies and costs analysis on the city's utilities and made our offer based on outside consultants, our Generation and Transmission Cooperative's staff, and our own research, which was a very lucrative deal for the city and the citizens of Coleman.  They have chose however, not to accept our offer for reasons we are not privy to, which is all part of business.  
Please be aware that we hold no ill feelings toward the City and in fact have continued to donate our automated meters that are no longer useful to us because of the transmitters failing.  This has allowed the city to change their meters that were recording no usage and record the proper usage at customers metering points, thus increasing their revenue each month. 
Like the one post on this blog said, and I must say is the philosophy of the Cooperative, is Neighbor helping Neighbor. 
Should there be questions that you or anyone else may have, please feel free to give me a call.
Thank you once again.
Clint Gardner
General Manager
Coleman County Electric Cooperative, Inc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 17 2014 at 10:41am
@Bean Counter: Very interesting topic, which I'm sure you know will never get to first base. The whole reason the MOU still exists is there remains a belief that this is what is funding the city.

@Clint,

Thank you for introducing yourself and even more, thank you for the information on the RFPs. I hope the city will seek bids again, and I am very happy to hear the CCEC is interested and willing to help Coleman. As I mentioned last night, I have found the CO-OP rates to be very fair, and such a relationship could indeed be a solution for Coleman. There is much study to be done.

Perhaps if you are able, you might consider posting some of the parameters of past offers CCEC has made, or any details you would like to share in the forum area below.

 http://colemanconnected.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=25&title=some-alternatives-to-consider







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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 22 2014 at 10:53am


Here is the updated spreadsheet that was used in the presentation to the City Council, October 16th, 2014

uploads/1/ElectricPL1.xls

On the bottom are multiple worksheets.
Worksheets "Choice" and "Another Angle" are the two documents that were used in during the presentation.

Here is copy of the June, 2011 study, done by city manager Larry Weise, that is referred to at the end of the presentation.
uploads/1/ElectricDivestitureRFP2011-1.pdf


In addition, here is a copy of the package all council members received on Monday, prior to the session.

uploads/1/CCPresentation101614.pdf


You now have all of the documents they had during the presentation if you would like to follow along with the presentation, which can be viewed here.









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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Craig Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 09 2014 at 12:32pm
The city of Granbury, Texas has a very similar situation.

We are working on finding out more about their current status.

Here are some very interesting documents.

PDF slide show from city manager on the potential sale of the MOU.
http://www.granbury.org/documents/154/2014%204%2028%20%20%20Special%20Election%20Sale%20of%20Electricv3_201405011431380564.pdf

City Council meeting minutes on same subject.
http://www.granbury.org/Archive/ViewFile/Item/1647


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Senior Member


Joined: Sep 25 2014
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 238
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Plainolejr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 09 2014 at 7:32pm
Interesting!  The engineering firm guiding Granbury is the same firm that guided Coleman into a 10 yr contract with AEP.  Wonder who the consultant is?  This may something to watch closely.
Saywhat
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