We’re Still Here!

 Cobb EMC elections are behind us, but we must stay vigilant and involved to ensure that the reforms we fought so hard for actually happen. Take Back Cobb EMC was one of the catalysts that ushered in new leadership promising good governance and democracy at Cobb EMC, and we’re proud to announce that we’ll be leading the member-based effort to enact a strong and thorough forensic audit, open board meetings, and other crucial reforms. We are confident the board is moving in the right direction; we’ll be following it and keeping members apprised when we need to take action.

The new board has already taken steps to move past the days of Dwight Brown. It is reviewing forensic audit firms with a view toward engaging one in the next couple months. However, the board has been unable to agree on key reforms like open meetings and term limits. We’ll let you know about opportunities to weigh in. For example, Cobb EMC’s annual meeting is in September and we’ll need to attend the meeting to make sure we keep up our end of the bargain and remain responsible member-owners of Cobb EMC.

Members fought tirelessly to secure the election of new and accountable leadership, but we cannot step aside. Our job isn’t finished.  We must remain committed, vigilant, and ready to take action. After all, what use is transparency if no one’s watching?

What’s next? The Forensic Audit

The new board is working hard to ensure that a thorough forensic audit happens, but we need to make sure the public is aware of not only what a forensic audit is, but what needs to be included in the audit. The indictment against Dwight Brown alleges that significant amounts of money left Cobb EMC illegally under his watch, and the only way to track every penny is through a robust and comprehensive forensic audit that not only focuses on where the money went, but who received it.

Some areas that we believe should be included in the audit:

  • The creation, financing, and management of Cobb Energy
  • Cobb EMC’s relationship with Power4Georgians and Plant Washington, including land deals and ex-Cobb-Energy-VP Dean Alford
  • Cobb EMC’s relationship with Energy Consulting group and its leader, Anis Sherali
  • Cobb EMC’s relationship with J.W. Rayder, including his $30,000 a month to lead the Gas South management committee plus $40,000 a month to consult
  • Cobb Energy’s various (now liquidated) subsidiaries
  • Cobb EMC’s relationship with Eagle Energy Partners

If you’re interested in learning more about the forensic audit process, especially how it relates to utility co-ops, please feel free to take a look at the audit (LINK) conducted at Pedernales Electric Cooperative near Austin, Texas. Over the last decade, PEC experienced similar issues to those we’ve faced at Cobb EMC. After electing a new board, it brought in Navigant, an auditing firm that helped secure the answers that the new board and PEC members needed and deserved.

Stay Involved!

We need to keep EMC members informed, and make sure our new board members know we’re behind them. Now is the time for us to share our thoughts and concerns with others. A great way to do that is to submit Letters to the Editor at the Marietta Daily Journal and other local newspapers. If you’d like to submit a Letter to the Editor, an opinion piece to a local newspaper, or just to get involved with TBCE, please contact Joel at joel@takebackcobbemc.com

Let’s get to work!

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One thought on “We’re Still Here!

  1. The Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune have imposed a blackout on reader comments that are not flattering toward the new board at Cobb EMC. I wrote this comment in response to Crowell’s letter to these publications. It is completely within both paper’s written guidlines for comments, yet they refuse to publish it in either publication. It’s obvious that these papers are now in the back pocket of the new power elite at Cobb Energy. The comment was written exactly as below:

    While y’all on the Board running around to seminars, calling in book learned consultants and starting to become “certified” EMC Directors, why not roll up your sleeves and get home schooled at your own EMC?

    Why don’t you learn what value Brown’s long time crony, J.W. Rayder brings to the bottom line by billing Cobb $40K/month for consulting services? Why don’t you learn what a low risk, high volume, good margin business the Gas South gas distribution business is and that you don’t have to pay Rayder $30K per month to chair the Executive Committee? Why you all could save over $800K per year by rationalizing that activity. (Oh yeah, that’s about only $4 per year, per member. Why bother, we’ll never miss it.)

    Why don’t you learn about the energy supply agreements that Cobb EMC has been routinely engaging in with the company formed by Brown’s Texas buddy Cliff Hare (formerly Eagle Energy, now EDF Trading NA). Inquire about why these agreements have been exclusively negotiated and managed, without any oversight, by Brown’s buddy Anis Sherali and his Energy Consulting Group. Ask why there has been no audit of EDF’s performance under the contract regarding prices paid for energy by Cobb. In the process you might discover that you can use the Electronic Quarterly Filings by EDF with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to determine the price at which EDF acquired the energy it sold to Cobb EMC and then use EDF’s billing statements to Sherali to calculate the markup. (Oh never mind! The members will never miss that money.)

    While you’re reviewing the EDF agreements inquire as to whether EDF’s unfettered use of Cobb EMCs generation and transmission assets create value for Cobb or whether it results in a giant wealth transfer from Cobb Members to Texas energy traders. Look into the structure of the agreement; the money transfers between the parties, etc. Compare the contract structure to what is allowed under the governing regulatory statues and tariffs such as those between Cobb EMC and Georgia Transmission Company and the Southern Company. Learn about managing a high voltage electrical delivery system; not the distribution system that Cobb runs. Talk to the operators at the Georgia Systems Operating Company (GSOC) and Southern Company as well as reliability coordinators at Southeastern Electric Reliability Council (SERC) and get their opinion on the energy schedules submitted by EDF on behalf of Cobb. Ask them what the term “hubbing” means and whether it’s allowed under the transmission tariffs and if it violates any regulatory reporting requirements. (Or ignore these issues as to not upset the apple cart.)

    Do this and then you’ll be a “bona fide”, not just a “certified”, EMC Director and members will truly be satisfied that “Our board is committed to Cobb EMC becoming the best operated and managed utility in the country.”

    I’m looking forward to the Town Hall meeting this Thursday, July 26th at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Cobb EMC community room, 1000 EMC Parkway in Marietta.

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