Dear Mr. Faherty,
When you and your fellow utility activist, Glenn Heran, first built support for selling Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light, you made presentations to community organizations in which you projected the sale would net the City of Vero Beach some $170 million dollars. You also claimed the sale would not necessitate budget cuts or tax increases. I know these were your claims, because I was in attendance at a Rotary Club meeting held at the Quail Valley Club when you presented your case for a sale. The numbers and rational you and Heran convinced many to believe have proven to be greatly wrong, yet you persist in regularly publishing an email newsletter, “The Utility Update,” in which you make exaggerated claims about the savings lost because the sale has not been concluded.
Though there may still be benefits to a sale, it is now clear handing over Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light would not benefit the City as you claimed. Yet, the sale is stalled, not because of local resistance, but because the Orlando Utilities Commission backed out of the deal, because no other qualified buyer has stepped forward to take Vero Beach’s position in three Florida Municipal Power Agency projects, and because FPL has yet to propose a solution for covering the cost of securing the City’s contingent liabilities. (For understandable reasons, other member cities of the FMPA are not willing to simply assume Vero Beach’s obligations regarding these liabilities.) As you well know, because FMPA power projects were financed with tax-exempt revenue bonds, a for-profit company such as FPL cannot assume these commitments, at least not long term.
In your email newsletter you regularly ignore these facts. Further, you seem to judge the relative worth and merit of local political candidates solely on your assessment of their enthusiasm for the proposed sale of Vero Electric. For example, you recently claimed “C. Gorry, Randy Olds and Tony Young,” are “anti-sale.” (Mrs. Gorry’s first name is Sharon, not “C,” and the Vice Mayor’s last name is Old, not “Olds.”), You assertions about where the candidates stand on the sale simply cannot be substantiated by their public statements, or by their actions. Similarly, you claim that “Laura Moss, Lange Sykes, and Norman Wells,” are “pro-sale,” but, like them, you fail to offer any specifics on how they would move the sale forward.
I would ask you to please consider addressing the same questions regarding the power sale which InsideVero recently asked of the Vero Beach City Council candidates. Continuing to label candidates as “anti-sale,” or “pro-sale,” without yourself revealing what you believe constitutes opposition to or meaningful support of the proposed power sale is as irresponsible as greatly misleading the public about the sale’s supposed benefits.
Power Sale Questions:
9. The proposed sale of Vero Electric has been a political issue for nearly a decade. With the Orlando Utility Commission’s having withdrawn from the deal, do you believe the specific purchase and sale agreement between the City and Florida Power & Light signed in 2013 and approved by voters cannot now be executed? If you believe that agreement is still valid, please explain what you would do as a member of the Vero Beach City Council to see that the agreement is executed before it expires on Dec. 31, of this year?
10. If you believe the current agreement will expire Dec. 31, 2016 unexecuted, what steps do you think the City Council can take to get the sale back on track? Specifically, how would you see resolving the bond covenants, and contingent liability issues, and what qualifying entity do you think might be willing and able to take the OUC’s place in assuming Vero Beach’s position in the Florida Municipal Power Agency power support contracts, and power supply agreements? If you do not believe these issues can and should be resolved contractually, how would you see getting around them?
11. Regarding the proposed sale of Vero Electric’s customer base and electric utility infrastructure within the Town of Indian River Shores to FPL, do you agree with the City Council’s 3-2 decision not to accept FPL’s $30 million offer, but to instead agree to consider an offer at $47 million? If you would agree to this so-called partial sale for less than $47 million, how would you propose to protect the taxpayers of Vero Beach and the remaining customers of Vero Electric from paying higher taxes and electric rates as a result of the sale?
It would be nice if someone would make it ‘perfectly clear’ how they believe a sale can take place without causing total disruption to our lives, including our bank accounts. I hope Mr. Schumann does get some answers for us. Otherwise, those ‘pro-sale’ people are just blowing more hot air our way.
Let us assume for one minute Faherty’s $170 million sale number is correct . If that is the case the $30 million number offered by FPl to gain the Indian River Shores customers would have been much to low. We all know now his $170 million is off by many millions. Why he and others will not accept the estimated worth of Vero Electric prepared by electric industry professionals is beyond comprehension.