After four years serving the Frankfort Plant Board, through the challenging transition from Kentucky Utilities to its new energy supplier, a number of issues remain unresolved. I am writing this column to illuminate several glaring issues and educate the community regarding what I believe to be unfinished business.
Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KyMEA) began supplying FPB’s energy May 1 of this year. Composed of municipal utilities located in Kentucky, KyMEA membership includes eight all-requirement members (FPB represents 53% of the energy purchased), two members that contract for transmission only, and Owensboro Municipal Utility, (OMU), a non-power purchasing member which bears no financial risk in the organization.
After the transition, it is clear that FPB's savings from changing our energy supplier is significantly less than promised. Most recently, the unneeded capacity (which could have been reduced without penalty early on) was sold this spring, resulting in millions of dollars in losses. Consultant E3 noted this excess capacity in its review of the KyMEA contracts. However, board efforts to compel KyMEA to address these and other concerns were met with resistance.
One of the areas of improvement that KyMEA should be focused on is the way its public meetings are noticed. Currently, meeting minutes and agendas appear on the Kentucky School Board Association portal (KSBA) and are not linked to the KyMEA website. It is very difficult to know when regular meetings are held or to find those minutes. It is impossible to attend committee meetings since they are not noticed and not open to the public, in violation of the open meetings law.
This lack of transparency makes oversight of KyMEA impossible. While we were successful implementing a FPB policy where FPB video records the KyMEA board meetings, those meetings are still not posted on any website for public access. Recording and posting meetings is a basic level of transparency that FPB and the city have easily achieved, and as ratepayers, we should demand the same level of transparency from KyMEA.
It has always been FPB's goal to provide the lowest-cost reliable power to its customers, which is why FPB opted to end its service contract with KU. However, KyMEA's pattern of risky decision-making, the imposition of excess and avoidable costs, compounded with the lack of transparency the agency consistently demonstrates, is not in line with this goal.
Please urge the new FPB directors that our best interests are not currently being addressed by KyMEA. As a community, we should at the least demand that KyMEA properly notice, record and post all committee and board meetings. Let them know that FPB customers have a need to know the financial risk our community is facing.
The next KyMEA board meeting is at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Double Tree Hotel, 2601 Richmond Road, Lexington. This meeting is open to the public.
Anna Marie Pavlik Rosen is an FPB ratepayer and former FPB board chair. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.