NM Public Regulation Commission Sets Hearing for KCEC

By: Bill Whaley
21 January, 2016

n-snake-lightIn a win for members who are protesting the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative rate increase, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Wed. Jan. 20, 2016, voted to send the request for a rate increase forward for a full-blown hearing. KCEC will now complete a filing for the request and member protesters will prepare for a testy discussion of the issues in a public setting. According to Chief Counsel Richard Blumenthal “33” protests, eight more than were necessary, met “substantial compliance” and were considered legitimate. KCEC argued earlier in written form that only 8 met the threshold. Of about 112 protests filed, the PRC staff said 63 met the threshold but Blumenthal only approved 33. The minimum necessary to force a hearing is 25.

Prior to the Jan. 20 hearing, KCEC CEO Luis Reyes had reportedly assured the Board of Trustees that the (more or less) 28,000 metered members would not be able to produce “25” legitimate protests. KCEC has spent millions of dollars on attorneys over the years to fight members and Tri-State G&T, while also engaging in a “cover-up” operation aimed at hiding losses associated with its diversification program: Call Center, Command Center, Internet, Propane, and Broadband (fiber-optic) division.

Reyes frequently misrepresents the state of the Coop and its accomplishments not only to members and Trustees but also to the general public who go “ga-ga” when he talks about “renewables,” a stunt more in tune with “public relations” and misinformation than reality. Despite spending millions of dollars in revenue generated by coal-fired electric energy for “solar arrays” or to supplement “fiber-optic” federal grants and loans, and other follies, the Coop has made little progress in completing alternative energy programs or in terms of hooking up Internet customers.

Century Link and Taos Net continue to dominate the wireless and cable markets even as “smart phone” technology is decreasing the appetite for fiber optic service. New solar technology, panels and battery technology, are fast-becoming available for individual home-owners from nationally recognized companies. While Luis and the Trustees were saddling up their horses, the horses of new technology left the barn. Now the Coop is millions of dollars in debt from loans borrowed to finance the “energizer bunny’s dream of diversification.”

We used to say in Taos that we were “twenty years” behind the times. Today we’re only five years but five years in a technologically complex society is like twenty in the past. And the Coop Culture is tied to Taos Politics of decades past: patronage and paternalism, contracts for cuates, and payola for primos, an obsolete system in today’s predatory and competitive society of geeks, who spell their name like Google and make deals based on knowledge, not politics.

All the members want from the NMPRC is recognition: recognize that the CEO and Trustees have buried the Coop in debt, co-mingled the funds, and ignored the mission and promise of Roosevelt’s original “REA” project. Without a change in management and upheaval in culture, the electric Coop can’t be saved. The Trustees should fire Reyes for misrepresenting the state of the Coop and then resign themselves. Thanks to members and local press coverage, the state of the Coop is coming to light.

At the PRC meeting on Jan. 20, according to the one honest trustee, Luis filled the meeting room with paid Coop loyalists: Trustees, Coop contractors, and employees (Trustee primos) who were on the clock.

Luis-RreyesThe Man is desperate for the rate increase so he can borrow and spend, spend money on failed ventures as well as the Traveling Trustees, who still want to go to New Orleans the first week in February and brag to their Coop colleagues about their plans for diversifying into an increasingly obsolete phase of technology. Today the Coop is in an upward spiral of debt and downward spiral of performance. As much as many of us like and admire Luis, he is driven by hubris (false pride) like Oedipus.

Now Luis is even using non-profit groups as agents of retaliation against his critics. While the mean spirited letter below says little positive about the local “Bernie Sanders” promoters, it says much about the vindictive nature of the CEO. Jeff, the Sign Man, a white-haired frail senior-citizen is the chief defender of animals and affordable gas. He has little power other than a righteous voice when he paints Luis a crook. But Luis gave the cops permission to arrest and turn off the Sign Man’s lights on Sunday night at the behest of left-wing socialists posing as democrats. (I am a Sanders supporter, too, but not a “fake supporter” and wasn’t there on Sunday night.)

Nor, can you, a member, stand up at the monthly Coop board meetings and say your piece without Luis’s permission. Luis does not like criticism but the PRC will hear plenty during the public hearing.

S1030003Here’s the Letter addressed to Lt. Maggio that says Jeff Northrup, per the Bernie Sanders people, is not allowed to attend the Bernie Sanders event at the Coop boardroom on Sunday night. The public was invited to the public event. We don’t expect Luis to stand up for free speech but apparently the “Sandernistas” can’t handle the first amendment either: Can you say: “Donald Trump?” Ms. Sandernista? Course the Town Cops been coming down on Jeff’s signs since the Cordova Administration. And Luis and Darren are buddies. Weaver and Maggio follow orders. Can you say “retaliation?” Mr. Coop? The sign man duly showed up, was duly arrested, jailed, and bailed out, thanks to Luis and his Sandernista buddies.

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