Friday, February 24, 2012

A Conflict Of Interest?

At the Town of Alexandria Board meeting on 2.8.12 Supervisor Hunneyman had included Ambit Energy as item 3 on the agenda. Mr. Hunneyman wanted the board to choose Ambit as it's electric supplier.  He stated that he was told  the town could save $600 per month if the town converted to Ambit.  He also went on to say that Sharon Cullen had converted the Village of Alexandria Bay to Ambit.  As it turned out, Mrs. Cullen also approached Mr. Hunneyman with the potential savings for the town.  I asked Mr. Hunneyman if he had requested other bids as municipalities are required to do for fuel oil, kerosene, and gasoline.  He said he had not, and as a result of my question  the alternate electric supplier  discussion was tabled till the next meeting.

The Town of Alexandria had changed electric suppliers several years ago to US Gas and Electric.

For Your Information:
Ambit is one of the many electrical suppliers that appeared when NY joined other states and deregulated electricity in the late 1990's.  To learn more about how to choose electrical suppliers go to the NYS Public Service Commission website and click on the Power To Choose-Energy Competition link

Aside from the lack of bids, I was also concerned about the conversion of the Villages electric supplier to Ambit.  This was the first I had heard of it.  There had been no discussion at the village board meetings  of changing electrical suppliers for the village.  The Village is also required to seek out bids for the boards approval.  Upon further investigation I discovered that the village did in fact change electric suppliers to Ambit in January '12. No bids were obtained and the board of trustees were unaware of the change. In December '11, newly "sworn in" Mayor Jury was advised by then Clerk Treasurer S. Cullen, that changing to Ambit would save the Village approximately $1,600 annually. Ms. Jury was also advised by the Clerk Treasurer that it is her job to cut costs and find savings. Mayor Jury in good faith, but erroneously,  gave the Clerk Treasurer the go-ahead without board approval to change the villages electric supplier to Ambit.

At the 2.14.12 Village board meeting, Dean Erck, during public concerns brought up the topics of "ethics" and "conflict of interests" to Attorney M. Gebo followed by a discussion of the village changing electric suppliers.  Julie Strough also offered some input to the discussion.  Below is an audio clip from the Town Of Alexandria meeting 2.8.12 followed by a clip from the 2.14.12 Village meeting.

For more Information about The History of Electricity Deregulation in NY

Bloggers Note:
When it is all said and done and if the switch to an alternate energy supplier is made, will there be any noticeable long term savings on the electric bills?  The Town is already using renewable energy with solar panels.  Maybe the village will follow suit?  In the mean time, wouldn't it be more effective and efficient to replace burnt out bulbs with CFL's, turning those off when not in use. Implement programmable thermostats, timers on lights, and of course dropping the temperature a few degrees,  All of this might yield a far larger savings.