Have you been plagued with high electric bills? Has your electric company failed to read your electric meter as required by law? Has your electric bill been estimated more often than not? Has your billing date changed, causing you to get an outrageous bill? Do you feel you are being lied to by your electric company's customer service? Welcome to the club, Potomac Edison, Mon Power and West Penn Power customers! There are thousands, perhaps millions, of us!
But, don't despair... your electric bills are going toward a good cause.Potomac Edison, Mon Power and West Penn Power parent company FirstEnergy will be holding it's annual stockholders' meeting later this month and asking its investors to approve (although approval is merely a formality that can be overruled) an executive compensation package that will provide CEO Tony Alexander with $23.3 MILLION in annual compensation and performance awards, including perks such as:
- Company-paid financial planning and tax preparation services.
- Limited personal use of the corporate aircraft. Pursuant to the direction of the Board, Mr. Alexander is required to use our corporate aircraft for all personal and business travel for security purposes (because those hoi polloi cooties can be deadly). With CEO approval, other executives including the (henchmen) NEOs, may from time to time, use our corporate aircraft for personal travel. We have a written policy that sets forth guidelines regarding the personal use of the corporate aircraft by executive officers and other employees. The Committee believes these perquisites are reasonable, competitive, and consistent with our overall compensation philosophy.
- Severance Plan which provides three weeks’ base pay for each full year of service with a minimum benefit of 52 weeks of base salary and maximum benefit of 104 weeks of base salary (and a golden parachute). Additionally, executives who elect continuation of health care for the severance period will be provided this benefit at active employee rates and must also pay taxes on any amount in excess of what employees with the same level of service would receive under the FirstEnergy Employee Severance Benefits Plan.
- In addition, certain executives are eligible to receive limited perquisites. In 2012, the NEOs were provided: (1) financial planning and tax preparation services for Alexander and Vespoli of $11,370 and $9,265, respectively; (2) charitable matching contributions for Vespoli and Jones; (3) premiums for the group personal excess liability and life insurance for all NEOs; and (4) personal use of the corporate aircraft for Alexander, Vespoli, Jones, and Lash. Executive officers’ spouses and immediate family members may accompany executives on Company aircraft using unoccupied space on flights that were already scheduled, and we incur no aggregate incremental cost in connection with such use. (bring the whole fam damily for a ratepayer financed vacation!)
- Accumulated pension benefits of $33M.
- Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan in addition to pension.
Additionally, FirstEnergy's Board shares:Also in 2012, we entered into an employment agreement (later referred to as the Alexander Agreement) with our President and CEO, Mr. Anthony J. Alexander. Your Board believes Mr. Alexander is uniquely qualified to guide your Company through the current unsettled environment based on his lengthy experience in the industry, familiarity with the regulatory process, and visionary leadership. The Alexander Agreement, by its terms, is expected to incent
(psst - "incent" isn't a word!) Mr. Alexander’s service, expertise, and direction through at least the next several years as we execute our strategy, address the challenges of a weak economy and increasing regulations, deploy our succession plans, and position your Company for long-term success.Finally, your Board is confident the Alexander Agreement, which encourages Mr. Alexander’s continued employment, will benefit shareholders and your Company favorably.However, given Mr. Alexander’s age, eligibility for retirement, personal circumstances, and the fact that he was evaluating the timing of his retirement from the Company, your Board believed it was important to shareholders and our Company to look beyond the annual compensation programs in order to solidify Mr. Alexander’s continued employment through at least the next several years. Your Board believes Mr. Alexander is uniquely qualified to continue to direct the achievement of our strategy based on his vision for the future and strong commitment to that vision, deep understanding of the strategic direction of our Company, ability to identify opportunities to navigate market complexities, and foresight to understand the impact of potential opportunities on our Company. In support of our strategic business objectives, Mr. Alexander guided the Company through the transition to competitive generation markets in Ohio and Pennsylvania, developed our long-term retail strategy to compete in deregulated markets and led the execution of the strategy to pursue opportunities for growth that would not otherwise be available in regulated markets. He was also instrumental in pursuing our merger with Allegheny Energy, Inc. in 2010 which was consummated in February 2011. The merger created opportunities to enhance shareholder value, including repositioning our business mix to include a substantially larger regulated utility base that supports our dividend. Also, your Board believes Mr. Alexander’s 40 years of experience with the Company, including 23 years as a senior officer; his knowledge of regulatory and governmental affairs; and the relationship he has built with regulators, policy makers, investors, and employees is critically important to our success, especially during the current continuing depressed economic conditions.
The primary objectives of your Company’s executive compensation program are to attract, motivate, retain, and reward the talented executives who we believe can provide the performance and leadership we need to achieve success in the highly complex and competitive energy services industry. Our executive compensation program is centered on a pay for performance philosophy and is aligned with the long-term interests of our shareholders.
Our vision is to be a leading regional energy provider, recognized for operational excellence, customer service and our commitment to safety; the choice for long-term growth, investment value and financial strength; and a Company driven by the leadership, skills, diversity, and character of our employees.Puh-leeze! I'm betting if Tony and his henchmen were the sudden and unfortunate victims of a targeted alien abduction
that our lights wouldn't even blink. Simply put -- nobody would miss them -- and we'd be paying millions less for our electric service! Where's a good alien invasion when you need it? Of course, I expect the aliens would promptly return the NEOs when they realize how completely useless they are. Hope dashed once again.Now, compare the plight of Tony and his henchmen to Philippe, who writes,"Potomic Edison is in the business of gouging it's customers. I received a bill due april 12 2013 for 831.35. I found out about it through my online checking account which I was floored. Apparently they missed a reading and due to UNDER estimating this bill covered costs that went back 6 damn months. No phone call no anything other then sorry sir but the money has allready cleared and there is nothing we can do about it. I am fed up with all the back handed undermining and borderline extortion that we as a citizen have to endure all because of greed and that all mighty dollar. I will be taking up the cause of bringing a class action lawsuit against this company as I have already spoken to many of my neighbors in regards to this Companies less then lawful and misleading ways. I am a disabled vet on a very fixed income and in the 20 plus years of living here I have never had a bill exceed the hi 300 dollar range EVER. As for Potomic Edison who is already having to explain themselves in court in the State of MD. may now ad another state to the mix, WV. and very very pissed off about this!"Or perhaps the plight of Cathy, who told others gathered to discuss Potomac Edison's billing issues that
she hadn't yet moved into her trailer when she received an electric bill for $600. The Harpers Ferry resident, who has been living next door to the home for six months, said she set the thermostat below 50 degrees all winter and only kept a small light burning as a deterrent. "Their explanation to me was they estimated it for two months, and then we had a hurricane and they couldn't come. And then we had bad weather and they couldn't come," Jackson said of her conversations with the company. "I said, 'Then why didn't you come when the weather was good?' They didn't have an answer."Or "SWOFLO" who writes:"some of us live on a limited income and cant afford to pay 2 bills in 1 month. mine was estimated 4 months and by the time it got read they overcharged me 900 dollars, of course i will get a few months of bill less elect but i wont get the car i had repossed back because i couldnt make the payment for 2 months."Tony, the peasants have no bread!
I fear that telling them to eat cake instead
would be equivalent to fomenting insurrection. Let Marie be a lesson to you!
Ut-oh, transmission project owners!While attending the Wisconsin Energy Action Fair in Mauston over the weekend, experienced transmission opponents from across the country gathered to compare notes, share experiences and tactics, and discuss strategy and national energy policy.
Online friendships and alliances were cemented together in person.Know what happens when you put a bunch of transmission opponents in a room together? It's the all-transmission-all-the-time gab fest, where we're all allowed to indulge in thought-provoking and laughter-inducing
conversations about our favorite subject that bores most of the other people we know: transmission!I suppose this could be considered the first of many national transmission opposition conventions, however, I'm not going to put my "The Importance of Strategic Planning in Grassroots Opposition" PowerPoint, or any summaries of any other speaker presentations, online. That's what transmission owners do. We're smarter! If you weren't there, you missed out!Many thanks to Rob, Jane, and all the friendly folks at SOUL for
being such gracious hosts and making the weekend worth the trip! Looking forward to the next event!
Alice isn't the only one to find herself tumbling into a rabbit hole where up is down and down is up and nothing is as it seems.While trying to do a radio program about FirstEnergy's Potomac Edison/Mon Power plant transfer this morning, I found it interesting that every person who called in mentioned Potomac Edison's recent unjust and unreasonable billing practices
. And then I sat down to pay a pile o' bills when I got home and guess what? There was my Potomac Edison bill. The company has been urging customers with questions about their bills to call the customer service center, so I did.Forty minutes later, I still didn't have logical answers to my questions. I can only imagine how customers who have received astronomical bills they cannot pay must feel after an hour in Potomac Edison's "valued customer" funhouse.First, I had to verify that I actually was a customer because my name supposedly isn't on the bill. Now, we know that's just not true, don't we?
I guess that must be a common mistake, right, Randy?After the first customer service rep.
and I determined that the cause of my budget plan billings being inconsistent was Potomac Edison's lack of meter reading over the past year, it was suggested that I begin reading my own meter on those months that Potomac Edison can't make it to my house. I was assured that Potomac Edison attempts to read meters EVERY MONTH, however they are only required to read them twice a year. After being informed that was complete and utter crap, she further insisted that Potomac Edison's WV tariff required only two readings per year and began to argue with me. When I suggested she check her information with her supervisor, I got dumped onto hold for 29 minutes without explanation. TWENTY-NINE minutes! I guess I was supposed to hang up and go away, but I simply turned on the speaker and set the phone on my desk while I tackled the 472 emails that had piled up while I was away.
Oh... and I was highly entertained by Potomac Edison's hold muzak play list, which I have noted to share with you.... song by hysterical song:
You've got a friend
Still the sameTight ropeSister golden hair
Carefree highwayGood day sunshineAnd here's where it got really hysterical...How long (has this been going on)Rocket man (and I think it's gonna be a long, long time)
Operator (could you help me place this call)And just when I was starting to wonder what was coming next
, "the supervisor" picked up the line and was not surprised in the least to find that I had been waiting 29 minutes and no one had bothered to tell her why I was calling.At least she verified that Potomac Edison is required to read meters every other month according to their WV tariff and that the first customer service rep. was wrong. I wasn't convinced that the supervisor actually would correct this misconception, however. I guess it really doesn't matter how much Potomac Edison lies to you when you call for assistance.However, while also verifying that my inconsistent bills were the product of Potomac Edison failing to read my meter, even she couldn't tell me why my new (APP) Summary
only included 4 months while my neighbor's included 12. Or why last month's bill was much higher for less kwh. Apparently all my problems will be over if I only read my own meter from now on. Right.
The push is on for increased production of Midwest wind and construction of billions of dollars worth of new transmission to ship it to the environmentally superior coastal enclaves of the rich and famous. These sadly clueless friends of the environment need to wake up and become just as conscious of their "green footprint."While advocating for increased production and use of renewable power
may make you well-heeled "environmentalists" feel good, your green addiction may not be sustainable.In order for you to trick yourself into believing the lie that you are helping the environment
when you flip on your centrally generated and imported "wind power" light switch, you may be denying the true effect of your actions.Sustainability is defined as: "Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment."Centrally generated electricity that is shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to end users is not sustainable. New land based wind turbines take thousands of acres of farmland out of production every year. What are you going to eat when wind is the Midwest's only crop? But, at least farming wind is voluntary and those who choose to do so are financially rewarded for their efforts.New transmission lines proposed to ship this "clean" wind power to market in eastern states also take thousands of acres out of production. However, farmers forced to sacrifice acreage to transmission lines must settle for one-time pittances under the threat of eminent domain. Eminent domain is
a compulsory sale of property for the common welfare. The "common welfare" here is improving the green footprint of environmentally conscious easterners who don't want the troublesome burden of wind turbines or transmission lines mucking up their own backyards. Farmers are forced to bear a huge burden by hosting transmission line after transmission line after transmission line. How much is one person supposed to bear for another's comfort in the name of societal good?It's not that easterners can't produce their own renewables. It's just that they don't want to. Therefore, they conveniently refuse to see the true impact of importing renewables
.Here's the true impact. Read it. Think about it. Why should these farmers have to sacrifice for your environmental conscience? Why can't you help yourself?As a society, we have recognized the concept of social and environmental justice. The dirty, the troublesome, the inconvenient and ugly infrastructure necessary to maintain our standard
of living has been inequitably foisted off onto those less fortunate and powerful. Just because it's "green" power and not a coal-fired generator, or a chemical factory, does not make it any more acceptable from a social or environmental justice standpoint. The more fortunate classes are once again expecting others to bear the brunt of sustaining their lifestyle instead of providing for their own needs by hosting their own power producing infrastructure.An environmental conscience that does not consider sustainability
is just a comfortable lie the well-to-do tell themselves. It's time to take responsibility for your own needs. We must find better solutions.
Potomac Edison is also renumbering work routes; meaning meter-readers will work in close proximity.
"That way if I finish my route, I can come over and help you finish your route. That should help prevent some estimates on the back-end of your route, where we couldn't get to a customer," says Todd Meyers, Potomac Edison spokesperson.
Well, color me steamed! I invited Todd to come read my meter last year
, and he still hasn't "finished his route" and arrived to do his job.If you haven't seen Todd at your house either, be sure to contact him and let him know you need him to finish his route:
Maryland – Potomac Edison
West Virginia – Mon Power, Potomac Edison
Pennsylvania – West Penn Power
(724) 838-6650email: email@example.comWhat does Todd mean "help me finish my route?" I don't have a route! Is Todd insinuating that I should be reading my own meter from now on, aka "my route?" But that's what I'm paying you to do, Todd!I'm also paying you to trim trees and maintain your equipment. That's not news. And sadly, yesterday's little drama was just that -- a play staged for the media. Oh, look at us working today!
Big stinkin' deal! This hole is much, much deeper than Potomac Edison thinks.So, what has Todd been doing with the money we've been paying him for years? Todd has a lot to answer for. This is all Todd's fault!
Go ahead, give him a call!
Ut-oh, FirstEnergy. UT-OHHHHHHH!If I wasn't buried under a mound of your paper, I might have more to say right now, but I did NOT say the quote attributed to me in the article.The big, uncaring, faceless corporation really ought to be ashamed of itself for the effect it is having on ordinary people who have been surprised with outrageous, inaccurate bills over the past year.More to come...
The Jefferson County NAACP will sponsor a public meeting concerning the recent outrageous increase in electric bills, and a proposal to further increase electric rates to purchase a 40-year old coal fired power plant. This meeting will also present information on the potential of energy efficiency to save money on electric bills and create thousands of West Virginia jobs.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 18, 7:00pm at the Fishermen Hall located at 300 South West Street in Charles Town. Daniel Chiotos of the Sierra Club and Patience Wait of Stop PATH will be speaking and answering questions.
The local state legislators have been invited to attend and hear the public concerns. If you are unhappy and concerned about your electric and want to prevent another unnecessary rate hike, please come to this meeting so that a message can be sent to the WV Public Service Commission. There will be opportunities to take action at this event.