French Broad Electric Membership Corporation (FBCMC) serves over 36,000 members in Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties in North Carolina and part of Unicoi County Tennessee. FBEMC was the first utility in North Carolina to develop a net metering agreement with members, so that members producing electricity through micro-hydro, solar, or wind could sell excess generation back to the utility. In recent years, that has changed. Approximately four or five years ago, the management of FBEMC has capped enrollment in net metering at 50 customers – 1% of members. All other members wishing to produce their own electricity and remain tied to the grid are forced to install a second meter with a $13/ month fee and are paid $.04/kWhr for excess energy produced. The additional monthly fee and the lower than wholesale price for electricity means that investment in alternative energy by the typical middle class family is unaffordable in the territory of FBEMC.
Members of the FBEMC have become concerned by recent actions of the board and management on a number of issues. In 2009 FBEMC negotiated a contract with Progress Energy that has brought large rate increases to members and the management has kept the terms of this important contract secret. In 2012, the management began a policy of maintaining thousands of miles of transmission line right-of-ways with herbicides and did not notify members or affected landowners for over six months. Some members have water sources in or down-slope of these ROWs, yet FBEMC management has refused to manage these or any other sensitive areas without herbicide. FBEMC has also raised the member fee to $500 for new customers and widowers whose account was in their spouse’s name.
Members who are fed up with the current management of the EMC nominated three candidates to the board by petition: Barron Brown, Sue Lomenzo, and Sherry McCuller. These candidates are committed to increasing the transparency of FBEMC and to addressing the concerns of members. Whatever your feelings are about the management of FBEMC, we urge you to exercise your power to vote in the May 4election for the Board of Directors. The election occurs between 3 and 5 pm at Madison County High School and you must have an account to vote. Each account receives just one vote, with the exception that an individual with multiple accounts only receives one vote. Members must be present at the May 4 meeting to vote. If they are absent, the can assign their vote to a proxy that does attend the meeting. A proxy form came in the mail to members in early April. Please be sure to keep your proxy form and assign another member your vote if you cannot make the meeting.
Visit the website Members Coop for more information.