Another Anti-Energy Hit Job From Margaret Newkirk

Good grief. When last I noticed Margaret Newkirk’s writing in the AJC, she was writing sensationally about nuclear power killing kids. You had to get into the story to realize she was actually writing about a survey proven dubious at best, but most likely wholly fraudulent. She had a habit of glossing over some key facts in that article and this gloss over pattern continues.

Today, she is at it again over Cobb EMC. For starters, let me say that Cobb EMC has gotten a bit too big for its britches. But the hyperbole in Ms. Newkirk’s article far exceeds anything Cobb has done. As regular readers know, I spent a year working for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, and I know a bit about EMC’s from my time there.

Let’s delve in, shall we?

She starts out like this:

Seventy years ago, a group of farmers northwest of Atlanta joined a power-to-the-people movement then sweeping rural America.

They ponied up a few bucks apiece, took out federal loans and formed a customer-owned rural electric cooperative, eventually bringing lights, washing machines and daily iced tea to an area too poor and sparsely populated to interest the big money at Georgia Power.

Today, the suburbanites who get power from that once-rural co-op are captive customers of an aggressively expanding conglomerate that is a customer-owned co-op in little more than name.

One of the biggest co-ops in the country, Cobb EMC is a monopoly and virtually unregulated, on the theory that its customers, who own it, exercise control.

They don’t.

At this point, I had to stop and see if I was reading an opinion column or an article. Apparently, it is not only an article, but it is the first of a two part article.

Marietta-based Cobb EMC was built and billed as an enterprise that cared more about its customers than big, for-profit utilities do.

But over the past decade, most Cobb EMC customers would have fared better with Georgia Power Co. or just about any other electric provider in the state

3 comments

  1. SpaceyG says:

    Jeez… even the French don’t complain about nuclear power. I heard an interesting factoid yesterday that 80% of France’s power supply is generated in a nuclear fashion. And Lord knows they all sure do fashion a heck of a lot better than we crackers do.

  2. Bill Simon says:

    Erick,

    As a customer of Cobb EMC, and one of their 189,000 customers (assuming Newkirk was accurate on that), I have to say that it is rather disconcerting to be held to a monopolistic power company’s whims that include NOT refunding any excess earnings to us shareholder members in over 30 years, but DO include spinning-off a for-profit entity.

    Oh, and I’m so grateful you brought-up the fact that we members have the IRS in our court to make sure Cobb EMC complies with federal tax law. That was a load off of my mind.

  3. Bill Simon says:

    Erick, Part 2

    And, on the subject of “Well, if members get upset enough, they can attend a shareholder meeting and vote out the directors.”

    We can do that with a lot of entities: Politicians, the President, a public corporation, etc.

    But, as JC Watts once said, Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.

    As shareholders/members, we ARE RELYING on the directors to do the right F*#*^@g! thing when we’re not around to watch them.

    I know, you might think that everyone in the world has a job like yours (blogging for dollars) and has ALL the time in the world to attend shareholder meetings, get incensed enough to get others incensed enough to throw directors out, and be satisfied of a job well-done.

    Well, we members DON’T have the time to enforce the rules, along with the standards of behavior because we’re too busy doing things like, oh, gee, I don’t know, WORKING to pay the friggin’ electric bill?

    Newkirk has a lot of it right. And, I thank her for exposing/educating me on the difference between Cobb EMC and Cobb Energy. Because I was trying to figure out why Cobb EMC was apying $20 million to sponsor the new Arts Center.

    And, now I know it isn’t poor Cobb EMC, but Cobb Energy, an entity created as a spinoff of Cobb EMC.

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