KCEC Trustees Celebrate “Rate Increase”

By: Bill Whaley
24 November, 2015

Travelers Happy!

At their dress rehearsal Monday meeting (Nov. 23) for the last regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Trustees discussed plans for their annual visit to New Orleans the week before Mardi Gras in February 2016. Having taken the courageous step to vote for a rate increase, trustees were assured by their CEO, Luis Reyes, that a protest was unlikely to gain the support necessary to force a public hearing at the Public Regulatory Commission in early 2016.

CEO Reyes has announced rate increases of 41% for monthly meter charges and a second 20% charge for residents who use 250 to 500 kilowatts of electricity a month. Critics say the rate increase is aimed at seniors and low-income users as well as conservationists.

Of 11 trustees only Virgil Martinez voted against the rate increase. Still “the man from Cerro” indicated he planned to attend the Regional Coop meeting with the rest of the Bourbon St. bound trustees. For violating the code of the “rubber stampers,” Virgil says he has been criticized and shunned by his former cuates

Although Trustee Peter J. Adang may not join the “traveling trustees,” the one-time activist, who couldn’t “beat’em,“ joined the so-called “nasty nine” Trustees he once targeted for recall. In his prior lawsuit about five years ago, Adang claimed the “nasty nine” trustees should be unseated for “misfeasance,” malfeasance,” and for lacking a “business plan.”

Now the Trustees have a “business plan”: raise the rates and party down in the home to hookers, strippers, and exotic lap dancers.

Rate Increase Socks KCEC Members and Taxpayers

While CEO Luis Reyes lobbied the County Commissioners on Tues. Nov. 17, the County Manager mentioned that the new rate structure would cost the County an additional “$50,000” per year. One can imagine that Holy Cross Hospital, El Prado Water and Sanitation District (EPWSD), the schools and the Town will also be forced to ante up to help pay for the Coop’s “survival.” Since most residents are both “members of the Coop” and “County taxpayers,” they will get hit once or twice or three times depending on where they live. Thank you, thank you.

Both the Town and County are considering an E911 tax that will help the two entities recover from Reyes’ machinations at the ill-fated in-and-out $3 million Command Center adventure. EPWSD has already raised GRT and property taxes as have the schools. The Hospital now wants a new property tax (probably to pay for the electricity hike). The Coop trustees have discussed a raise in per diem among and for themselves.

The silver-tongued CEO, Mr. Teflon, one Luis Reyes handed out spin diagrams at the County. In the one obtained by Taos Friction, Reyes claims the Coop is worth $134, 889, 484.55 million and carries a debt of $74 million.

The Taos News claims the Coop owes $84 million. Trustees, on and off the record say the Coop will have to borrow $6 million to finish fiber optic/Broadband project for which they received a $40 million grant and $20 million loan. Friction believes an estimated $100 million in debt will be owed in total for more than a decade of misadventures at the Call Center, Propane, Internet, Command Center, and Broadband.

When listening to Mr. Reyes or reading his paperwork you must build in a 20% contingency estimate to allow for the highs and lows of the “spin.”

The controversy surrounding the $37 million Tri-State exit fee remains mysterious and subject to interpretation. According to public sources and testimony, the federal government i.e. Rural Utility Services holds KCEC assets as collateral for the Broadband loan. Mr. Terry Bruner of the local Albuquerque office probably has more say so in front to the PRC than members since he’s the Coop’s chief banker.

Members might ask whether the federal government should foreclose on the Coop, given the muddle made by the Trustees and the CEO, who have mortgaged about 75% of the plant and infrastructure. The current culture at the Coop amounts to a policy of “borrow and spend” today, ignore Grandpa’s capital credits from yesterday, and then push off the forty-year loans onto your grandchildren.

Conclusion

At the County meeting, Reyes handed out a packet of graphs and stats that clarified board expenses and meeting fees for the Trustees from 2005 to 2013. For those 9 years, the totals added up to $2,931,776.00 million. I kid you not. Now they’re picking up where they left off: The Big Easy come February.

In future posts, Taos Friction will fill the readers in on the quirky Trustees who rob Paul to pay Peter. While homebound the “traveling trustees” still serve as paid committee members for Propane or Internet or Broadband despite their lack of expertise and the ensuing losses.

The Four Trustees who represent greater Taos Valley’s 12,000 meters, more than half of Coop total, only have one third as many votes as the other seven, due to gerrymandered districts.In other words your vote in Taos is worth one-third of a member’s vote in Penasco or forty percent of a Questeno’s.

The Reyes rubber stampers of Taos, Lusia Valerio Myles (et tu Luisa?), Manuel Medina, David Torres, and Peter J. Adang have joined Bobby Ortega, Art Rodarte, Bruce Jassman, Jerry Smith, Chris Duran, Ambrose Mascarenas in giving the members a one-fingered salute. But they give Luis $240,000 in salary  plus perks.

At least he leaves the light on for us.

 

Meanwhile here’s a couple of letters:

Hey Bill —

Interesting to compare the Kit Carson Coop management to another Coop —
Holy Cross Electric in Colorado. Granted, Holy Cross probably has a much larger membership base, but I think it is a model of a well-run organization. It represents much of central Colorado.

Seldom is there a power outage — maybe once or twice each year
and only for a few minutes. Board members are attentive to input from the consumer.

Each year there is a dividend paid to users. I think the Coop has won awards and numerous accolades for its success.

Tony

Greetings,

This may be somewhat dated but relevant to COOP corruption and mismanagement.

TRUE STORY

Years ago when KC propane was new I moved into a house with KC propane service. KC propane required that I give them a $200 deposit.

When I moved out of that house and closed that KC propane account I waited and waited for the return of my deposit. KC propane did not return my deposit. I went in person and talked to the KC propane about the money due me.

The check was always “on its way.” This went on for some time.

Finally I took the matter the Luis via his secretary. Finally I got a check from KCEC (not KC propane).

It was a nightmare to get my money back.

I suggest that a forensic audit would show a fair number of folks
who never got their deposit back from KC propane.

Keep up the good work

(Name withheld due to potential retaliation)

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