• Report:  #1163892

Complaint Review: Excelsior Electric EMC - Metter Select State/Province

Reported By:
Customer with no choice - Bulloch Candler County, Georgia,

Excelsior Electric EMC
986 SE Broad St Metter, 30439 Select State/Province, USA
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Dear Sirs:

   For the past year, I have been trying to collect the capital credit due to my sister’s estate. The account was in the name of my brother-in-law, Emerson Jones, who has been deceased since 1971. My sister, Myrtle D. Jones, moved away from the farm and she passed away in 2006.
   As executor of her estate, I published a Notice to Debtors and Creditors in The Metter Advertiser, which states that anyone owing money to estate was to pay the funds into the estate account. After the notice was done and I did not receive anything from EMC, I went to your office in Metter and discussed this matter with your cooperative manager to try to collect her credit. I was advised by the manager that Excelsior EMC does not pay any capital credits to anyone.
   I also went to Pineland Telephone to collect her capital credit fund there and, within one week, I received a check.
   Since Excelsior has not paid out any capital credits since 1950, I began to make inquiries to find out if this was cooperative policy across the state or just locally. I personally contacted a number of cooperatives in the Northern and Southern areas of Georgia to ask if they pay out capital credits on demand when a customer passes away. I was told by each person responsible for this duty in these various offices that they definitely do pay out upon a person’s death. I am attaching a list of the cooperatives that were contacted.
   I have personally contacted some of you, but not all of your directors, and I would like to give you some of the comments that I received: “It saves me money on my electric bills” ... “We will have to go too far back to figure up the credits.”
   I say nonsense--it is kept consistently in your computer and I am sure you have employees intelligent enough to handle the situation. It might be necessary to get a little training from a neighboring EMC, but it certainly is possible to do it.
   “We would have to hire additional employees and we don’t know where to start” ... “We are working on this, but we don’t know where to start. We would have to pay out the oldest first.”
   One of your employees stated to me, “It would affect our retirement.” Your retirement plan must be pretty hefty, because another of your employees told me when he retired at the age of 57 years old, he drew out $750,000. Someone has to pay for this retirement, and I assume someof it may come from capital credit/interest, etc. due to the large amount that is in the account.
   One thing I know is that, by holding deceased persons’ money and using it, you are able to boast of having lower electric rates than other cooperatives. Your current report shows that you are holding in excess of $33 million in capital credits. A large portion of that is money you should have paid out to estates when a consumer passes away. It has been 60 years since any money was paid out, because the last time was in 1950. Please remember that the manager told me, “No capital credit monies will be paid out as long as I am manager of this cooperative.”
   In my inquiries, I have found that 16 cooperatives have less line miles than Excelsior and there are 21 cooperatives that have fewer members per line mile. It is strange to me that even these smaller companies still pay out capital credits on demand.
   If my memory serves me correctly, I recall that within the past two to three years, you apparently felt that Excelsior was financially independent enough to attempt to enter into--along with other cooperatives--the construction of a generating plant. This was thinking big, and remember, you gentlemen as a board of directors approved this.
   When a request is made to pay on demand at a person’s death, there is no reason for you not to pay the capital credit as other cooperatives do. However, if no family members make this request, then I could understand you holding the funds until they are requested.
   One of your directors stated that, “We are looking into this. We are waiting to see what happens with the lawsuit in South Carolina.” My question is, what does the outcome of a South Carolina lawsuit have to do with Excelsior?
   “We have appointed an in-house committee to look into that issue.” That tells me that the manager is the one person who has a say in this matter and the board does what he directs.
   “We have our lawyer and a CPA looking into this.” I Personally spoke with a CPA involved with Excelsior EMC and his remark to me was that he was the auditor and not the policy-maker--that was the board of directors’ duty. On April 13, 2011, an attorney associated with Excelsior EMC said he was not able to comment on the matter at this time.
   When I initially began requesting the funds for my sister’s estate, I was told that the board decided not to pay yet. I understand it would not be the board’s decision to pay. All I am asking is that you pay a just debt so that I might close the estate. I can understand the cooperatives holding capital funds of an active member as a savings for lower electric bills for them. However, I can see no justice or reasoning for you not paying out the capital credit to an estate when a person no longer is a consumer of your electric service. This is wrong and each one of you as a board member knows that.
   I know you say you don’t know where to start, but eventually you are going to have to start somewhere. Like I stated earlier, it seems to me that other cooperatives would be willing to give you assistance with this. But they can’t do it if you don’t contact them.
   I think that I have somewhat of an inside view of the policies of Excelsior since I was an employee for a period of 41 years. I know some of the facts that I am sure the public does not know and probably some of your younger directors do not know either. I feel sure this issue of capital credit payments would arouse a lot of interest in our community if it were to appear in The Metter Advertiser (and neighboring papers)... It would make for a lot of news. The cooperative might have to hire an additional employee(s) to handle the flood of phone calls.
   Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
   Grayson Douglas

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