GCS’s relationship with Florida Municipal Electric Association continues to thrive

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 8/7/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The city’s relationship with the Florida Municipal Electric Association has improved under the Orlando-based wholesale power supplier's leadership changes.

Green Cove …

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GCS’s relationship with Florida Municipal Electric Association continues to thrive

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The city’s relationship with the Florida Municipal Electric Association has improved under the Orlando-based wholesale power supplier's leadership changes.

Green Cove Springs is one of FMPA’s founding members and the partnership is nearing 41 years. FMPA is owned by 31 municipalities that benefit from the joint purchasing power and the statewide organization. Nineteen member cities depend on FMPA to be their wholesale power supplier, including Green Cove.

Former Council Member Bob Page is the city’s representative on FMPA’s Board of Directors. His report to the council was brief at Tuesday’s 38-minute long meeting. Page was selected for the board in 2014.

“It’s kind of a heavy burden for council members to drive two hours to Orlando for the meetings,” Page said. “I was happy to do it.”

FMPA is in the council’s good graces, Page said, though council gave FMPA notice to opt out of its contract in 2016 to explore other options. Between 2003 and 2014, FMPA lost $247 million from investments, according to a state audit. CEO Jacob Williams was hired in 2016.

“I think it’s a great relationship now. There were periods of time when (FMPA) was wandering in the woods with what they were doing and why they were doing it,” Page said. “A change of personnel and leadership has come in and has made some very good moves with their relationship between the organization and the member cities. FMPA is the members, the members are FMPA.”

Vero Beach opted out of its contract in 2018, which was approved by all 19 cities. Vero Beach had to pay about $108 million in severance. Page gestured to his chest.

“The document pile is this tall,” Page said. “(FMPA’s) new management came in and said, ‘We’re going to help you with whatever you want to do. We’re going to work with you to get that done and make that happen.’”

Green Cove Springs enacted a Contract Rate of Delivery with FMPA this spring. Council Member Mitch Timberlake called it a precursor step to leaving FMPA, though the city entered a 30-year contact in the early 2000s. The city would establish a load level to continue buying from FMPA and negotiate with a third party to buy past that level, at a specific point in the contract.

“We made a decision based on how the company is being run, we’re going to buy our power on the open market from FMPA because their prices are competitive and their quality of delivery is very good,” Timberlake said.

Timberlake said FMPA had dramatically improved from where it was five or 10 years ago.

“I think when we come down to the point of getting out (of FMPA), it will be a decision somebody has to make given what they can buy in bulk electricity from maybe FPL or Clay Electric.”

Council Member Van Royal said at one time he felt FMPA wasn’t representing its smaller members. He was also concerned with their long-term investments.

“They put all that behind them. They started focusing on the members they’ve got, individually, as opposed to top-heavy or as a group,” Royal said. “I think they’re representing us pretty well.”

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