Talking out of both sides of your mouth

Since the end of January Plant Washington has been a hot topic at barber and beauty shops, grocery store lines, and church. In just over three months time local residents of Washington County, Washington EMC owner-members, and others involved in Power4Georgians (P4G) have read in newspapers and online various, and often conflicting, versions of what’s going on with the proposed dirty coal plant.

Recently, the Marietta Daily Journal reported on the minutes of the Cobb EMC Board of Directors meeting on January 24, 2012: “Power4Georgians owns the permits but he (Dean Alford) stated that P4G never intended to build Plant Washington. He stated P4G’s goal has always been to obtain the permits needed and then sell them to any interested party that could build the plant.”

On the heels of this eye-popping revelation, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy released Follow the Money,  a report outlining and charting the complicated and circuitous connections among Plant Washington supporters.

This week The Sandersville Progress has an article about the remaining four EMCs in P4G. The article reports that all calls to the remaining four EMCs were unreturned or they declined to comment. Not one member of Power4Georgians will speak out in support of the project that has cost over 25 million dollars. . Central Georgia EMC referred the reporter to Dean Alford, and said that he will answer provide a statement for the co-op.

EMC owner-members, at least at my co-op, have long felt shut out and distanced from the Board of Directors. I doubt they will be any happier with our co-op’s leaders saying that our questions should go directly to Alford- or remain unanswered.

Dapper Dean isn’t on the Board of Directors at WEMC or any of the other EMCs. None of the owner-members have ever had a chance to vote for him, or the money and water sucking coal plant he continues to insist we need.

The members of these Board of Directors need to be mindful that they accepted a fiduciary responsibility for co-op operations, and that Plant Washington certainly falls in that category. They can’t necessarily count on being shielded by the co-op if they do their jobs poorly.

What am I doing to be a good co-op owner-member? I have sent information to them as well as questions. I’ve asked for answers via letter to the local papers and here in this blog.

Since the end of January I have emailed the officers of Washington EMC-Frank Askew (CEO), Wendy Sellers (CFO), Mike McCoy, (Board Chair), and Billy Helton (my rep to the Board) each three times (I finally got an email address for Mike McDonald, another board member, who was copied in the third email I sent).

I got one response from Mr. Helton concerning news about Dwight Brown’s legal battle with Cobb EMC over $2.1M he thinks his former employer owes him, and an article on  profits soaring 20 percent since 2008 at King & Spalding, the law firm representing P4G (Plant Washington was announced in January 2008)

And now, in this week’s Sandersville Progress (which isn’t available onlinethe paper reports that none of the EMCs involved in P4G will answer questions from  reporters. Instead, Dean Alford speaks for them.

So, to smooth out some of this tangled mess: leaders at Washington EMC want Dean Alford, who testified under oath in 2010 that the P4G EMCs intend to own and operate Plant Washington, but according to the Cobb EMC January 2012 Board Minutes, Alford told Cobb EMC leaders that P4G never intended to own or build the plant. And now WEMC leaders have chosen Alford to speak for them.

And just to remove any doubt about the ownership of Plant Washington, Dean was quoted in the Marietta Daily Journal immediately after the plant was announced over four years ago, saying, “These 10 cooperatives (P4G)… are building this facility — 100 percent used by them, for them, — to keep energy rates affordable.” (I can’t find any record of him disagreeing with the quote).

Developed, built, and owned by the EMCs- or not. Do the leaders in Washington County and our EMC know?

 

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
This entry was posted in co-op reform, EMC, ethics, Plant Washington and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.