PRC Takes with the Right and Gives with the Left

By: Bill Whaley
29 January, 2017

WinterCabinFriction hears the Town of Taos has called a meeting without proper notice for Monday morning Jan. 30th at ten am. for the purpose of censuring Councilor Judi Cantu. Friction urges the Town to turn their heads toward the deluge of mud and snow on the streets  as well as aberrant KCEC retroactive and otherwise negligent treatment of community, including the questionable increase of electricity rates un-related to electrical service. Both the PRC and the Coop have neglected their duty to the consumers and business  customers in Taos.  Let Judi be Judi. Somebody has to keep and eye on Rasputin the 70s era rocker and his groupie!

(The Forbidden News of Taos)

On Wednesday, January 25, the Public Regulation Commission ruled in favor of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) motion’s to ignore Intervener’s motions to rehear the 2015-2017 rate case in a unanimous decision. Meanwhile the Commission ignored or barely acknowledged the scandalous “confession” of KCEC’s “inadvertent” error in retroactive billing of 6500 members. Interveners claim, however, see Whaley complaint below, that an investigation could reveal that KCEC over-billed all 28,000 plus members. At the Coop, neither the Trustees nor the CEO can be trusted.

“Inadvertent?” What does that mean? The cookie monster did it?

Whaley argues KCEC policy, procedures, New Mexico Administrative Code, and customary interpretation of practice below in his proposed filing set for Monday, Jan. 30, against the Coop.

Taos area Representative Commissioner Valerie Espinoza chose to upbraid Taos Friction editor at the Jan. 25 meeting while ignoring KCEC’s confessed sins committed against 6500 members. According to insiders, Ms. Espinoza may have been influenced by KCEC’s jiggle-juggle stalwart trustee while referring to Whaley’s “unpleasant” remarks at Taos Friction. The President of the Board of Trustees is a well-known critic of Whaley, whom he considers a bigot or worse. Too, Questa thuggery will out.

At the Dec. 7 meeting in 2016 at the PRC, the commission approved the residential rate increase but an odd reversal occurred. Commissioner Lovejoy opposed a motion to increase tier while Espinoza supported it. Then, in the final decree, Espinoza voted against the rate increase and Lovejoy voted for it. The two switched sides. The increase in Tier, according to my understanding, allows KCEC to borrow more money from RUS, etc.

The notorious Friction editor called the Lovejoy-Espinoza connection “cutting a deal” but others might call it “quid pro quo” or “back scratching” or even “compromise.” Politicians do it all the time but the aspiring thin-skinned pol, a rumored candidate for Lt. Governor, doesn’t like getting caught with her ambitions openly revealed as it were.

But we at Taos Friction love the latest “bench request” from Commissioner Espinoza, who sent a post-hearing advisory to KCEC, requesting (finally) an update on the $37 million Guzman-Tri-State deal, involving generation, transmission and asks for KCEC to show evidence of having filed notices of the Guzman deal therein with the PRC.

KCEC notoriously ignores PRC directives, rules and regs, as it does its own policies and members, complying in name only with regulations at a time and place of its own choosing. To trope on a famous remark, the Coop pays millions in defense and not one cent in tribute (to justice).

At the PRC one feels like a participant in musical chairs, where Interveners and Consumers are always the last to get a seat at the table, no matter how fuzzy and heartfelt the remarks of the elected ones. The mainstream press does not cover PRC hearings just as The Taos News does not cover KCEC doings.

The Hearing Examiner and the PRC staff, highly qualified and competent, work for five elected officials, who get paid in the neighborhood of $90,000 a year each but appear to take little interest in the minutiae of motions, facts, details, and evidentiary analysis. Unlike courts of law, there is no independent arbiter at the PRC like a judge. Staff summarizes recommendations for commissioners. Very often the language of the “regulated” appears in the final summaries and the orders of the “regulators.”

As we know New Mexico, like Trumpworld, is famous for avoiding a term like “conflict of interest” or “ex parte communication” except as a form of lip service. Besides, who in politics doesn’t understand a “wink and a nod.” As Emerson said, “Character teaches above our will.” Body language will also out.

But those of us from the Land of Quixote in Taos County continue to charge the Windmills. Below I do my best to present evidence and exhibits, argue the case against KCEC’s “retroactive billing” practice on behalf of myself, residential and non-residential members of the alleged “Cooperative.”

Both Interveners Jerome Lucero and Rose Des Georges continue the fight. I advise the community to use my attached research as a guide and file for $25 a formal complaint, against the Coop. On the other hand, I am well aware of the retaliatory tactics of said Coop.

But I believe we’ve got to resist the dictator at KCEC who is bringing the whole community to heel under the carrot and stick of El Caudillo, aka affectionately as “the energizer bunny.”

Formal Complaint Against KIT CARSON ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC.

From: Bill E. Whaley
125 De Teves, Unit B.
Taos, NM 87571
(575-776-4115)
bwhaley@newmex.com

About: (3) Service Location(s)
L Col HS # 25005 and # 25007 TP RD PST TA
Meter Numbers: 1519791, 151970, 151988

To: Public Regulation Commission
Chief of Staff: Ernest D. Archuleta
P.O. Box 1269
1120 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1269

RE: A Formal Complaint Directed to: Kit Carson Electric Cooperative
118 Cruz Alta St.
Taos, NM 87571

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Please consider this a “formal complaint” directed against Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC): First, Complainant claims KCEC engaged in “retroactive billing” or billing for an increase in energy services prior to Dec. 14,th the effective date of the recent Public Regulation Commission’s Dec. 7. “Final Order Adopting Recommended Decision” (Final Order) in Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. (KCEC) Case No. 15-00375-UT. Second, Complainant draws the PRC Staff’s attention to what appears to be double billing for the last day of service at the end of one month, which “magically” turns into the first day of service at the beginning of the following month.

1. The “Final Order” states in Paragraph 31.D. that “the revised rates shall go into effect within seven (7) days of this Final Order i.e. Dec. 14, 2016. (Exhibit G.)

2. All three of Whaley’s monthly service charges from KCEC show in the “current billing period” “service” dates from 11/22/16 to 12/17/16 and note the number of “Days Service” as “25” in the “current billing period.” The “Bill Date “ or administrative notice of recorded charges shows 01/05/17 and the “Due Date, “01/25/17. (Exhibit A.A1, A2.)

3. Kit Carson posted on its web site the “Eighth Revised Rate No. 1” re: “residential service schedule.” which highlights and underscores the term, “Net Rate Per Billing Period (or part thereof/service)”. Exhibit B, stamped Dec. 12. 2016.

4. On the second page of the “Eighth Revise Rate” KCEC includes the energy charges and in bolder letters, the stamped notation: “Effective Dec 14, 2016, replaced by NMPRC Case no. 15-00375-ut.” (Exhibit B1.)

5. KCEC also posts a helpful explanation of the monthly bills with graphic depictions, balloons, and arrows. The graphic emphasizes the “meter Reading Dates and “Usage Billed for Billing Period” per number of days for which the member is billed. (Exhibit C)

6. KCEC also posts a further explanation to the members in (5) and (6) for “meter readings of current bill and shows the “”total number of days in current billing period.” (Exhibit C1.)

7. KCEC practice and explanation in 3, 4, 5, 6 above acknowledge the combined use of the terms “service and billing period” while the posted “Eighth Advice Notice” also includes the language “ (or part thereof/service), meaning rates should be pro-rated for billing period rather than bill pre-rate increases because the dtes overlap with the post-rate increase.

8. In 17.9.531.7, paragraph C. of the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC), it says “Customer Charge means the charge is usually characterized as a customer or monthly service charge (my bold) and refers to “usage.” (Exhibit D.)

9.Further throughout 17.9.531.7 language refers to “effective date” and makes allowances for dates taking place before and after the effective date re: 17.9.531.11 “format” of both residential and non-residential bills. (Exhibit D)

10. The NMAC17.5.416 “Definitions” does not separate “service,” billing period,” or “usage” but says in paragraph C that “billing period means a utility service usage period in accordance with applicable tariff schedules.” (Exhibit E)

11. In NMAC 17.9.531.13, “procedures for Revising Information based on rate changes,” Paragraph D. says “at the time that a utility’s changed rates become effective, bills to customers shall separately state the portions of those rates…” (Exhibit D.) While this section refers to statements of “generation, transmission, and distribution,” the intent seems obvious: the effective date in a change must be reflected before and after the date of the ruling or increase or change. (Exhibit F)

12. In paragraph 39, KCEC responds in “Motions for Rehearing of Final Order,” (Case No. 15-00375-UT) to Rose Des Georges Application and her claims of KCEC’s retroactive billing of residential and non-residential customers/members of KCEC. (Exhibit J), which indicates KCEC’s intentions with regard to residential billings.

13. KCEC claims in paragraph 40 that the Commission’s Sept. 7 order “terminated the suspension of the six non-residential rates and those rates went into effect as proposed in Kit Carson’s original Advice Notice No. 60, filed on December 3, 2015.” (Exhibit J)

14. KCEC claims in paragraph 40 above that “The suspension period on the non-residential rates was terminated with the issuance of the order because the Order Terminating Suspension was made effective immediately upon issue, “starting with the next billings issued by KCEC to non-residential customers affected.”

15. KCEC also claims in paragraph 40 above that “unlike the residential rates approved by the Commission in its Final Order that required Kit Carson to make a compliance filing to implement the newly approved rates as of a specified effective date, the higher non-residential rates went into effect immediately as noticed and filed in original Advice Notice No. 60. (Exhibit J)

16. KCEC also argues in paragraph 40 that “The single commercial Rate No. 3 bill attached to Des Georges Application filed at the NMPRC was for the billing period August 11, 2016 to September 15, 2016, which overlaps the effective date of the Order Terminating Suspension on September 7, 2016, but_ which was the next billing sent to this customer. As such, the higher monthly fixed service charge and the higher volumetric charges that became effective during the billing period in question given the Order Terminating Suspension were appropriately reflected as the fixed monthly charge and higher volumetric charges applicable to the billings that were sent out for that billing period.” (Exhibit J)

17. Then KCEc claims in 41 that “Kit Carson has identified that an inadvertent error did occur in the billing parameters for the fixed monthly service charge and the volumetric kilowatt hour (“kWh”) charges for some customers for the November billing period. While Kit Carson has not yet completed its review, it appears at this point in time that approximately 6,500 residential customers were affected by the billing error for the November 2016 billing” (Exhibit J)

18. The Commission issued its order for KCEC non-residential classes on September 7. The Commission used the general term in 13.B “billings” and in 13. C., saying this “order is effective immediately,” (Exhibit H.)

20. This complainant argues that the PRC Commission is governed by references to NMAC in Complainant Nos. 8,9,10,11 above, not the generalized or vague interpretation of “billing” as permission from the PRC to engage in retroactive ‘billing” by KCEC.

21. KCEC has only admitted that 6500 KCEC November residential customers were subject to the allegedly “specious” claim of “inadvertent” billing yet KCEC offers no example or reason or cause related to the term “inadvertent.” The admission above but omission of complaints received by KCEC re: “over-lapping” residential billing or specious arguments re: non-residential retroactive “billing” does not induce confidence in KCEC’s eventual resolution of matters pertinent to retroactive billing for this member and other members.

22. Further Complainant argues that Whaley’s paragraphs 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 above apply to KCEC in both residential and non-residential cases.

23. As evidence of KCEC’s specious claims and practices, regarding customers and members, complainant argues that KCEC has ignored crediting overlapping bills for Nov. and Dec. despite calling attention to the “error” at KCEC HQ in Taos and at the PRC.

24. KCEC has charged increased rates to non-residential customers prior to the September 7 PRC decision in the month of August, while also charging for over-lapping Aug. and Sept. service/billing periods. This complainant provides evidence of purported “retroactive” billing as examples of KCEC’s lack of fair dealing with members in the cases of El Prado Water and Sanitation District (Exhibit I); a Commercial Gallery owned by Ranee Malanga (Exhibit L) and asks PRC Staff to apply volumetric analysis to determine if KCEC has retroactively billed Taos County. (Exhibit K)

24. In total Complainant asks that the PRC launch an inquiry into KCEC “retroactive billing practices” to determine whether KCEC abides by commonly accepted definitions of “service,” “usage,” days,” and “billing periods” as opposed to the vague term “billing” which isn’t defined by the NMAC.
21. Complainant also draws PRC Staff attention to what appears to be double billing for one day of service each month, which day coincides with the end of one billing period and the beginning of the following billing period. Historically, complainant bills show this practice (See Exhibits A, A1, A2, A3,A,4,A5). See also Exhibit K, Meter Number 24729 (Taos Co. Detention Bldg) where service from 08/05/16 to 09/01/16 is billed than then the next month from 09/01/16 to 10/03/16 shows the first day of the new period, and the last day of the previous period. Complainant claims this practice requires an explanation.

22. Finally, this Complainant asks the PRC Commission to make a clear ruling so that KCEC members know the definitions of terms like “service,” “usage,” “days,” “billing periods” and “bill date” and “due date” and what to expect in terms of KCEC service, usage, billing periods as well as “bill date” and “due date” regarding the “effective” date of the rate increase.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best.

William Whaley

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