Marco's electric study to recharge with new name

LCEC fact-finding mission may change from ‘municipalization’ to ‘subsidization’

— The idea of taking over the Island electric utility, Lee County Electric Cooperative, has sparked much debate on Marco over the last year.

According to the Marco Island Civic Association annual survey released earlier in April, their members, at least about 88 percent of them, don’t support spending any money to look into the city purchasing and operating the electric utility.

Councilman Bill Trotter supplied another idea of how to approach electric costs at Monday’s City Council meeting. He believes “subsidization” studies would be more practical than “municipalization” studies.

In a follow-up interview with Trotter Wednesday, he explained the idea further.

“As I looked back at the correspondence with LCEC about municipalization, it became clear the issue was really about subsidization,” he said.

“Marco is a donor city in many respects. Let’s make sure it isn’t when it comes to electricity.”

He said a study focused on whether Marco pays more into LCEC than it receives back in services could be done more quickly and with less cost than a study of how or if the city should takeover LCEC.

He said answering seven subsidization questions, as opposed to 11 or more for municipalization, would lead to the answer of whether Marco is subsidizing other areas such as Ave Maria and the developing Babcock Ranch, which is a solar-powered community being developed in partnership with FP&L in Charlotte County.

“LCEC has not made any investments in the new Babcock Ranch development at this time,” said Karen Ryan, an LCEC spokeswoman.

LCEC may not answer the shorter list of seven questions posed by Trotter that were originally part of a longer list posed by City Councilman and electric municipalization committee Chairman Jerry Gibson.

“LCEC answered the questions presented by Councilman Gibson on what we felt was in the best interest of our customers not based on why we thought the questions were being asked. The answers would be the same if asked under any circumstances,” Ryan said.

Those answers were primarily “no” to the request of any information from LCEC.

LCEC also doesn’t see Trotter’s announcement as a true change in scope.

“This really isn’t a change in angle or scope. When the issue was raised about a year ago, subsidization was one of the topics of discussion,” Ryan said.

Electric cooperatives were structured initially to serve rural areas, which the government helped fund, because fewer customers in an area made it less profitable for private companies.

“That has since changed and because Marco and Cape Coral have become less expensive to serve, there is a likelihood that we are paying for the development of new areas,” Trotter said.

“All LCEC customers share in the cost of operating the business which is not different from how other utilities operate,” Ryan said.

The Executive Director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, Barry Moline, has said the Florida Public Service Commission reviews LCEC rates to determine if subsidization is taking place. This subsidization review is between customer class, such as commercial, governmental or residential.

City Councilman Rob Popoff declined to comment on the issue or his recent meeting with LCEC.

Ryan only said “it was productive.”

“We do not believe there is a better alternative for providing Marco Island reliable electricity and cost competitive rates,” Ryan said.

John Arceri, a former City Councilman with 30 years of electric utility experience has said subsidization is the key issue.

“I think trying to evaluate and quantify how much Marco Island is subsidizing other parts of LCEC’s massive territory is the single most important thing to find out,” Arceri wrote in an e-mail to the Eagle Thursday.

He said electric rates are crucial to negotiate because not only are they steadily rising but contribute to water rates because it is 25 percent of the cost of treating and producing water.

Trotter said lowering electric rates or reducing the cost of putting electric lines underground may be the outcome of negotiations with LCEC if a study indicates significant subsidization is occurring.

City Council will be discussing the issue further at the next council meeting scheduled 5:30 p.m., May 4, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

View the seven subsidization questions in the sidebar to the left

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Comments » 27

MarcoJimbo writes:

Can you say "SCAM" boys and girls? City staff didn't get what they wanted from the municipalization committee, so now we're going to have the subsidization committee. Tuesday's 5 hour outage at Collier and Winterberry didnt't exactly help their cause. While we're at it, how about asking King John if the ConEd ratepayers in New York City subsidize the the ratepayers in suburban Westchester County? I doubt if he had a problem with that as a fat cat at ConEd.

sailingalong writes:

Give it up Arceri!!! This dog just won't hunt. The people have spoken and if the council values the opinion of 82% of the voters over your control of them, this deal is DEAD!

If the council ignores the voters and pursues this waste of money, the citizens will really get upset. The question is who runs the city? John Arceri or the voters?

dc5799 writes:

All of a sudden Trotter is speaking. When he sat beside Patterson last council he never uttered anything that was worth listening to. He would drink, Patterson would eat.
Now uncle John along with Wayne has taken him under his crooked wing
This council has to do the right thing and listen to the people

playballonK writes:

what wuz that cartoon when the wolf would unzip his coat and get into the costume of the sheep....?

Working_Stiff writes:

Now that the City Of Marco has a massive electric bill. Maybe they should start thinking about installing a few solar panel systems and maybe a few wind turbines to offset the cost. I would be more in favor of an approach that conserves energy and I am positive LCEC would be happy to assist us on that request.

lauralbi1 writes:

sailingalong: Just for your reference and future information, the survey results were a MICA survey. I am not aware of the percentage of registered voters that belong to MICA (why don't you find out since you feel compelled to use the figures), but the 82% is based on a 41% return from the surveys that were sent out. The 82% is based on 2500 surveys that were returned. 82% of 2500 is 2,050 and if we double that to assume that each survey represents 2 registered voters (assuming that all MICA members are registered voters, optimistic), we only have a 31% "vote" (based on 13,000 registered voters). So please, as much as we all respect each others opinions and blogs, let's try to express the facts as they really are. So in your blog above, you need to change 82% to 31%, if you want to use the MICA survey results on this issue.
Ed Issler

MrBreeze writes:

You do not be a member of MICA to know that the people do not want to see the electric go the way the water did. I say if this council will not listen to the voters, maybee some talk of a recall might be needed.

NobodysFool57 writes:

Recall? Roger Hall tried that a couple years ago when they shoved the STRP down our throat. These crooks have friends at the county courthouse, I believe you're just whistling in the wind until we can vote them out. Just don't get scared like 3,000 condo dwellers did last year when Uncle John threatened to jack-up the utility rates if they didn't vote the way he wanted.

JohninMarco writes:

This is government gone crazy. More city employees, more payouts in benefits and salaries while at the same time major cities are farming out jobs to lower expenses. 1990 ideas!

lauralbi1 writes:

MrBreeze: You sure are sounding a lot like Butch Neylon. Could it be that you are one and the same ?? A lot of your blogs remind me of good old Butch. It might be nice to know who is misrepreesenting the will of the majority. A landslide majority at that. How are things up in Massachusetts ??
Ed Issler

MarcoJimbo writes:

Nice try lauralbi, but you're wrong (as usual). Mr. Breeze is not Butch, and apparently neither is Roger Hall. Care to take a cheap shot at Joe Batte or Dr.Guidry while you're at it? King John's boys (Bill,Jerry & Wayne) are building quite a legacy, last year's record tax increase and now the hostile takeover of the electric company. Go smoke some crack, or better yet, go to City Hall and kiss some.

MrBreeze writes:

Mr. Issler, I am not anyone you think I am. I am a person who purchased a home for myself and my wife in 2002. Only recently did I start to watch local politics after watching the STRP debate. I am confused, there seems to be an awfull lot of dislike towards you. I have a hard time understanding your position on things, you seem to be pro-city and big on having answers. I am just a regular guy who has seen his share of crooks and bystanders and handsitters who feel its safe to stay on the sidelines. I plan on staying on Marco Island for a long time so I have taken interest in local matters if that is all right with you. By the way I do not know who Butch Neylon is or what he stands for, but if he writes like me he must be a smart guy.

happy6 writes:

mr breeze...since you just started watching local politics..let me help you...issler is a complete idiot in evry sense of the word...arceri, lazzarus and the ol man tucker are crooks...issler will argue with anyone who does not go along with his crap...the guy is pitiful and so are his buddies...most folks on the island wish he would just go away,.

MrBreeze writes:

Thanks for the info, I have seen those names in the paper often. I find it hard to believe that this small island could have such problems but as always the case people with agenda's can get in. I have always stood up for the little guy and will continue to do so. My hope is others think the same as I do as I have no plans on leaving.

dc5799 writes:

Welcome Mr Breeze you will find out Ed and his crowd think they have all the RIGHT answers. Once Ed is challenged he leaves for a few day's.
He never stood up for his pal Monte's chicken little letter. No truth to that letter.

lauralbi1 writes:

Mr. Breeze: In rwssponse to your observations, these blogs are just that. Blogs for people to express their opinions. As you can observe, the blogs are mostly from the minority of voters on the Island as a result of their frustration from the results of recent elections. For the past two elections, the outcomes have resulted in a direction of Island improvement, sewers and infra-structure enhancement. Family development instead of retirement spending has caused a lot of Marco Island's older residents a lot of concern. But the majority has spoken, and in the last election, by a Landslide majority.
I blog more facts and the opinion of what I consider to be the majority vote. There are not many bloggers that take the time or bother to do that. Why bother as the elections and vote reflect the direction of our Island. But becase most of your bloggers represent the minority of voters, that is why you see the comments or responses to what I write are more personal instead of factual. See above as an example.
I have fun doing this and everytime I get a reaction it gives me a great deal of pleasure, even though perople, including yourself, are cowards and hide behind aliases. Anyway, glad to have you involved. You can never have enough opinions, let's only hope that they are based on fact.
Ed Issler

MrBreeze writes:

Mr.Issler, Please do not degrade yourself or your intelligence by calling me a coward. It sounds to me the things you write are not truley of fact. I have met your type before all talk. As far as elections go I can not comment but in the future I will follow close. If needed I will be one running for office and then we will see who is a coward as you call it. Have you ever run for office Mr. Issler or are you just a "hang around cronie" as I would put it. I like to have decent debate with people, but if you need to get dirty "bring it". As far as Island quality I think you are mistaken. People I speak with refer to the island as "markup Island" among other things. I see the island as the Mackell bros. did. A place to retire in peace, with ample services, friendly people, good quality of life. Your money and your background mean nothing to me, your car or home mean nothing to me, your word and your handshake mean everthing to me. So please I will accept your apoligy in advance and please lets stick to the issues. PS Breeze is here to stay, like it or not.

MrBreeze writes:

As far as "family development" goes does he mean the high school? I would disagree with that concept. I can only assume that infra-structure means STRP which I am totally not against but from my opinion, it could have been handled a lot differently. As far as utilities go, we islanders have no business in the utility business. My water bill is flat 60.00 with not a drop used. So when I am traveling and not using water I should still pay,not fair. Now electric does this mean another base bill hike when no power is consumed. Yes, my friends our retired and elderly are concerened as they need to be so they are not displaced by people with other agendas. But maybee a "family enviorment" does not mean anything but paying fees to some people. Oh, I got it is the family of Washington, lincoln, Jefferson ect.How dumb of me...... Breeze

MarcoJimbo writes:

Gee Ed, you sure know how to make friends, NOT! You probably ought to get back to honing your "hanging around cronie" skills if you have aspirations of King John adopting you and running you as his next council toady when Bill limits out in three years.

EdFoster writes:

Issler,

You remain as mathematically challenged as you were when I left the island. Referring to your posting #6 above, have you never heard of "sampling"? If 82% of MICA respondants were opposed to the electrical whatever study, approximately the same number of Marco residents (give or take a few percent) most likely agree. I could go through the statistics to prove that to you but why bother? It's obvious that you don't understand sampling or statistical theory. A sampling of 5,000 voters (you're the one who "doubled" the number of actual votes) out of 13,000 registered voters is OVERWHELMING evidence that the survey is accurate.

Ed Foster

Fossil writes:

Let's not lose sight of what this article is about. The real purpose of renaming this inititive is not for clairification, but to furhter deceive the taxpayer. If the players who are promoting this are to be honest and transparent, then "they" would simply call it what it is. This is another attempt to acquire the power utility by the same people that brought you the purchase of the water works and the STRP. The motivation is same: acquisition of utilities for revenue enhancment. The City is limited in how it may tax us so they are looking for other ways to bleed us. Think about it, if you own the utilitiy you can charge what you like and you can add user fees whenever you like without referendum. Who are these people? You may find them representing us on our City Council and at our Chamber of Commerce, or amongst our Rotarians and lets not forget the leadership of the KOC. They like to work in the background, have significant wealth and consider themselves the guardians of Marco Island. Some of them grew up here and made their fortunes here. They are extremly enfluential in both Collier County and Marco Island. They control the City Council because they helped put the majority of them there. Coucilman Waldack still doesn't know how he won. "They" represent the elite of our Community. Their interests are self serving and designed to promote and protect their individual wealth and investments. The more infrastructure that our City is burdened with, the more responsilbity our City has to maintain it. It enables our Community to support and promte more tourism to increase business opportunity. That means more large hotels, time shares and condos. The City Council requires this new committee to document due diligence and justify the reasons for acquisition. The last committee was made up of too many average citizens who were too concerned with their own petty little lots. That committee was a mistake. The next committee will be stacked with some of the people who will directly benefit and it will succeed. Look to the composition of this new committee to see some of our real leadership. Just some thoughts.

lauralbi1 writes:

Dear Mr. Foster: Great to see you are still reading what is happening on Marco Island. Actually, I stand corrected. The surveys were sent to each member, so 2,500 represents households with multiple members. So doubling was an error. In other words, 31% becomes 15.5%. Hardly a mandate. I think, and you should agree, that the more significant number is the fact that 3,500 surveys were not sent back. There are no conclusions that anyone can make from this survey. We only know that 82% is a fictitious number and anyone that uses it has their head where it does not belong.
Ed Issler

dc5799 writes:

Ed Foster,
You are to be congratulated. Issler stand's corrected. It's a wonderful day here in Paradise.
Thank you////////

happy6 writes:

issler...you moron...you look and look for some s----- numbers to expound your stupidity....most people throw the mica survey in the trash mainly because no one ever pays any attention to the results...you never have...and the city council we have now has never paid attention to it...please...go back in your friggin hole.

lauralbi1 writes:

Shadow: If you can read , please review the blogs above and then you can apologize if it is in you. Nowhere in these blogs have I addressed using the survey. In fact, you have made the point that I was making. One of your buddies was trying to say that "82% of the voters" (see blog #2) and I was merely trying to explain the error of his or her ways.
But you can keep expressing your frustration and anger. Just know that until this Island changes in demographics, you will continue to be in a voting minority.
Ed Issler

MrBreeze writes:

See what I mean, ED Issler keeps talking demographics. Every person in my life I met who talks demographics is either a REALESTATE AGENT or DEVELOPER or CITY or MUNINCIPAL PLANNER. These are dangerous people. They plan behind the scenes what THEY believe is right for YOUR PROPERTY. I have seen this so many times before. Demographics are driven by the objectives of ZONING AND PLANNING of MUNINCIPAL DEPARTMENTS. Before 1997 when the island was run by Collier County, I would bet that the demographic was totally different. Now, this is how demographic's are changed by implementing GOALS and OBJECTIVES of the DEMOGRAPHIC that you want to attract. Questtion fo Mr. Issler, what is the current demographic of Marco Island today? This is how people become dispalced. When Planning, Zoning and Land Use are involved look out.You will either be zoned out, taxed out, or bought out on the cheap by frustration.

MrBreeze writes:

Oh, buy the way #21 by Fossil is so right in all ways. Great writing and observment. Could not be more true.

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