Anna Marie Pavlik Rosen, chair of the Frankfort Plant Board, made her case to the city commission Monday for reappointing her and FPB Vice Chair Walt Baldwin to the municipal utility's board.
“There are two major financial perils that require seasoned, informed board members,” she told commissioners, who must confirm Mayor Bill May's nominees for the Plant Board.
First, the Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KYMEA), the plant board’s energy supplier, intends to build generation that would entail creating a combined cycle natural gas plant, Rosen said.
She said the city of Paducah built generation and now has the highest electric rates in the region with a municipal government at risk of going bankrupt. Her preferred alternative is to buy power from the open market or build solar energy sources.
Second, Rosen cited the decline and possible loss of one-third of FPB’s cable-internet business.
“The area of cable is changing nationally; it’s an area that’s going away,” she said. “To continue to support that and not support fiber (internet access) puts us at severe risk for the future.”
She noted that FPB has already installed fiber in two zones of its coverage area.
May, who nominates FPB directors, was not at Monday's meeting but said he will go back and review the footage of Rosen's comments.
Rosen went on to cite a list of accomplishments achieved by the FPB under her and Baldwin’s leadership since they were appointed in 2017.
FPB initiated Frankfort on Tap, an educational program regarding the city’s drinking water. The board installed six public drinking fountains around the city, with two more in process. FPB established Wi-Fi access programs for Frankfort Independent Schools, The Kings Center and the Walter Todd housing area.
After a three-year study, she said, FPB approved three electric vehicle charging stations. “We encouraged and achieved LED street lighting replacement for many of our street lights here, and that benefits the city with reduced energy costs,” Rosen added.
“When Walt and I were nominated to be on the board, Mayor May gave us direction to look into customer service,” she said.
As a result, the FPB started cycle billing and credit card committees, which considered the possibility of having more than one payment cycle a month. The board also allowed public comment at all regular board meetings.
She claimed that customer service has improved, citing the new ease of signing up for service.
“Now it’s possible to sign up for electric service without going to the office; you can do that through the internet," she said, adding it reduces long wait lines at the FPB office.
City Commissioner Eric Whisman acknowledged that Rosen’s time as FPB chair has presented many challenges and thanked her for her service.
“In closing, I just ask for the appointment,” she said.
Rosen and Baldwin came under harsh criticism in 2017 from board colleagues and from former City Commissioner Robert Roach, who led an unsuccessful effort to remove them from the board in the wake of their attempts to revisit the utility's all-requirements electricity contract with KyMEA. A commission effort to vacate Baldwin's seat on the grounds that he was not a registered voter at the time of his 2015 appointment was blocked by a judge.
May is expected to nominate appointees at the city commission’s next meeting on Sept. 23. The commission will vote to approve or reject his nominations at the same meeting.
However, May said Wednesday that he needs to talk with FPB board member Jeff Bradshaw, who may be moving out of the state, before making any recommendations.
"I don't make decisions until I know how many appointments I need to make," he said, adding he tries to balance his boards with people of different political backgrounds. "I am very deliberative."
Rosen told The State Journal she believes it would be a loss for the city to lose her and Baldwin’s experience at a critical time.
“I’ve always been concerned about the environment and pollution, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said, noting that better utilization of solar energy is still an important goal.