Strahl, et al: Bloomfield's brighter future
At the end of the day, Bloomfield simply desires to do what Farmington has done, build a brighter future for Bloomfield families and businesses.
Bloomfield is not fighting, as Farmington’s City Manager Rob Mayes claims, about “economies of scale” and “non-captive customers.” Bloomfield has already considered all of Farmington’s technical arguments and has chosen to move forward – because it makes economic sense.
Let’s clear the air. Mr. Mayes recognized Bloomfield’s right to form an electric utility.
In December 2014, Mr. Mayes wrote “That right was clearly provided to Bloomfield in ... the Final Judgement and Decree in the Culpepper v. Town of Farmington case...”
Encouraged by Farmington’s recognition of Bloomfield’s rights, Bloomfield began the thoughtful process of researching a fair price for the lines, poles and meters in Bloomfield.
Now, less than two years later, Mr. Mayes asserts that Bloomfield hasn’t done its homework. Clearly, it is in Farmington’s and the Farmington Electric Utility's best interests to sensationalize “rates, risk and revenues.”
But, it is not in Bloomfield’s best interests to ignore the thoughtful results of its own studies.
Mr. Mayes’s letter readily admitted what Bloomfield knows — FEUS profited by $1.52 million from electric service it provided to the families and businesses of Bloomfield. FEUS then spent $910,000 of that money on the entire FEUS system before giving the balance of $610,000 to Farmington’s general fund. This money funded projects in Farmington, and unfortunately, did not benefit the Bloomfield community or our future.
Also consider that with that amount of profit ($1.5 million or $610,000), FEUS rates should be lower. This is even truer if FEUS is debt-free. Imagine what any of us could afford if we didn’t have a mortgage. And, if FEUS has no debt, then all the ratepayers on the FEUS system have already paid for the lines, meters, and plants. Farmington’s statements about debt don’t ring true.
The City of Farmington also ignores what everyone in the region knows – the market price for wholesale power is low and will continue to be so low that Bloomfield will be able to cover debt and operations costs and still serve our families at competitive rates. The City of Gallup, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and Aztec have recently cut their wholesale power costs by at least a third.
The time is right for our community to take advantage of what our neighbors Aztec and Jicarilla have already done ... lock in lower rates now.
One of the guiding principles of Bloomfield’s analysis is that electric rates must be equal or lower than FEUS rates.
Farmington argues that Bloomfield’s actual cost may be “10 times” what our studies show. But, in documents filed in court, Farmington claims it hasn’t conducted any appraisals or valuations. So where exactly does this estimate come from? If FEUS believes Bloomfield’s departure will cause costs that aren’t paid for, then FEUS should be selling power to third parties, like Aztec.
But, FEUS didn’t make an offer to sell power to Aztec or anyone.
Bloomfield’s feasibility study thoughtfully considered wholesale power, transmission, operations and maintenance costs. We know for example, that Aztec operates its utility with six employees and contracts out for maintenance. This is similar to the operational strategies of Gallup and Jicarilla along with 2,000 other small municipal utilities across the country. Recognizing the direction of the oil and gas market and related energy market, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, just an hour east of Bloomfield, created its new electric utility from scratch. If our neighbors to the east can build a utility from scratch, what makes Farmington believe that Bloomfield (which already operates other utilities) can’t do the same?
Bloomfield has tried to negotiate with Farmington but Farmington has decided it would rather spend money on lawyers.
If Farmington and FEUS are truly trying to keep rates low for ALL customers, they should decrease rates and quit funneling money to the general fund. For decades, Farmington has used its electric utility rates to improve the quality of life for its residents and businesses. Bloomfield simply wants the same opportunity to improve our community and quality of life.
Bloomfield has published its guiding principles, its 2012 and 2014 studies, maps, important court documents and more at power4bloomfield.com.
Eric Strahl, City Manager, Bloomfield
Reverend Kathy Potter
Kim Mizell, P.H.D., Superintendent Bloomfield Schools
Merle Dennis, Ret., Former City Manager, Bloomfield; Former Board Member FEUS PUC