Letter to the Editor
By Mark Biggers
What’s the rush…” the past is prelude”. The GEPB’s rush to sign the 20-year rolling contract with the TVA is in my opinion quite worrisome. When the seeking of an outside consultant was considered by the board and a committee was tasked to provide candidate recommendations, many were relieved. The City Council as a body and our Mayor even encouraged the same and offered to defray the cost.
Since 2016 and the advent of the Infotricity Rate, mistrust in the machinations of the GEPB to reach decisions has been a point of contention and strife within the community. The quick decision to table the consultant search and within the same breath it seems, to approve the TVA rolling contract was breathtaking in the perceived hubris shown by some on the GEPB. Yes, there are industrie(s) looking perhaps to come to Glasgow and they may need a large capacity line. The line types described on a WCLU and GDT podcast; if we go with another entity upwards of $100 million would be required. On 21 December the GDT reported that Eastern Kentucky Power company plans to spend $20 million for same. Did the GEPB know this was to occur, or did they know and disregard, or did they not know? Did they not perform the due diligence that is expected of them? Pro 20 yr contract members stated they “had no crystal ball” and couldn’t see the future.
We now know that the Barren County Progress broke this story weeks ago before the meeting and even shared the name and contact information of the high ranking official at East Kentucky Power to the Chairman so that he could confirm independently. He chose to ignore and pushed through the contract. At the end of my editorial, I can provide perhaps a glimpse of the future.
Going back to the hubris; In my opinion, when a board member replies to a lady in a wheelchair attending a meeting that he would “like a Ferrari” when she stated she’d like to be able to pay her electric bill is beyond the pale. The cross-examination of DT Froedge about his “malfeasance” regarding a potential lawsuit investigation against a journalist which didn’t go the GEPB’s way, and the affront to “attorney-client” privilege was enlightening. The Board I suppose is willing to spend money to litigate, but not to hire a consultant. The same board that makes fun of other community partners by saying doing business with them would be like,” driving to Florida on a spare tire.”
As I understand it, attorney-client privilege is contingent on the attorney…not the client. I consider Mr. Froedge’s action as an act of transparency! When Mr. Froedge was castigated for his hypocrisy. in wanting to put the 3.1% TVA rebate into escrow to accrue more money vs donate some cash to Community Relief. Mr. Froedge has since he has been a member of the GEPB refused his $200.00 per month stipend from the board. If I’m not mistaken this has occurred for his entire tenure (36 months). The same type of treatment the BCP and their publisher Jobe got in numerous open meetings and yet they tried to hide details members paid to research vindicating him. Will they try to hide the fact they are wrong in accusing Froedge too?
Now as to the future, and regarding the 20 yr rolling contract, I wish to summarize information gleaned from the Knoxville News Sentinel, Knoxville, TN. The Investigative Reporter for the News Sentinel won the category for community journalism category of the 66th Scripps Howard awards. Since 2008 TVA has been embroiled with the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and other environmental entities regarding the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant dike failure which dumped 7.3 million tons of toxic coal ash onto 300 acres of land, and destroyed several homes. Many cleanup workers have become very ill and some have died. In 2015 TN pursued litigation in conjunction with 12 million tons of coal ash at the Gallatin, TN fossil fuel plant. That’s not all, it appears there is arsenic in nearly 5 million tons of coal ash at the Allen Coal plant in Memphis. Finally, the Bull Run power plant slated to close in 2023 has perhaps 5 million tons of coal ash. A chilling byline, at least for me, in the News Sentinel reports that TVA has “two decades to clean up Gallatin”. Just Gallatin. TVA has said that the money is already accounted for at an estimated $640 million dollars and won’t require boosting rates…I hope they’re right. TVA is a federal entity, and in my experience, federal agencies seem to underestimate.