Start with this link and screenshot, Jungbauer aiming to establish a substantial personal cash flow out of Connexus Energy:
While on the Senate Energy Committee!
It is a clear conflict of interest situation where Connexus might rightly feel pressured to allow an influential Senator a cash flow, i.e., where Energy Committee help or hindrance can be exerted over future needs.
Recall that in annual meetings where board elections are held, Connexus controls the proxy machinery, and hence its insiders control a disproportionate say over who is elected (or reelected) to sit on its board.
Jungbauer, to gain a board seat, does not need to convince many cooperative members he has merit, he realistically has only to lean on the insiders for a position on board, with its personal perks and cash flow.
One must hope that Connexus, as a public responsibility step to avoid an obvious potential for mischief, has and retains bylaw provisions of some kind disqualifying serving politician - office holders from holding board seats. If not done already, then every person buying electricity from Connexus should demand it be done. (It's an uncertain thing because Connexus does not publish bylaws on its website for its ratepayer-member-owners.)
Two terms ago, (the 2007-08 85th Legsilative Session) Jungbauer gained his first appointment to the Energy Committee, and was sole author for bill, SF 3546, 85th Session, (introduced March 6, 2008) favorable to the pecuniary interests of distribution co-ops buying energy from generation-and-transmission co-ops, (see Sect. 85(a)(2) bill language, "(2) be owned by an electric generation and transmission cooperative;"). This link, this screenshot:
The specificity of bill language, as to aspects subsidized via exemption from taxation into Minnesota's general fund, has to have contemplated a single genco cooperative, probably Great River, which has a history of adaptive peak load gas turbine capacity (an ideal generation mode for adding power to the grid during summer peak air conditioning demand - quick startup, low capital cost but unfit for continuous operation because of higher per-kilowatt operating cost). Most recently, and possibly the Jungbauer tax exemption target, there was installed Elk River peaking capacity, online summer of 2009.
Consider this scenario: The biggest distribution cooperative in the state, by far, is Connexus; and it buys its power wholesale from Great River, marks up the price, and distributes it retail within a seven county service area. That is how Connexus makes money. Expenses such as payroll, capital debt service, and maintenance materials are deducted - payroll including, especially, the top dogs. What's left is distributed via annual adjustments to ratepayer-member-owners of the cooperative.
Connexus is a big money thing, no mom and pop operation, but multi-million, (from that link you get quick numbers and a link to read the latest annual report).
Continuing scenario: Great River, presumably the unnamed benefactor, stands to gain money via the SF 3546 tax exemption bill. It could pass through the gain on wholesale sales, or keep it internal for more lavish board and management pay. Connexus, if getting a pass through from Great River, could pass through the saving to retail ratepayer cooperative members, or keep it for more lavish boss-pay, just as with Great River.
Ah, but abuses, the PUC would police things and never allow abuses, you say.
Simple fact: The PUC has no regulatory authority over cooperatives. Nobody regulates them against abuse. They regulate themselves. Go figure. Contemplate the largely unconstrained license the big-wigs and top bananas in play at Connexus have to take care of their pecuniary needs and desires. Putting faces on things:
That's the unregulated, unpoliced, upper-echelon Connexus cozy club that our Senator Jungbauer wants to join - for motives he's aware of but you and I can only guess at, with money probably a factor.
As an experiment, find out what the residential cost per kilowatt-hour in Xcel Energy territory [PUC regulated], and compare it with the residential cost per kilowatt-hour paid by those having to buy power from Connexus [free from PUC oversight and policing]. Might those buying electricity from Connexus be better served, were it PUC regulated? That's a separate issue from Mike Jungbauer. For another post, perhaps.
Our Hon. Sen. Michael Jungbauer, while on the Senate Energy Committee with all the interlocking mischief possibilities implied, wants a seat on the board (arguably better called a place at the feeding trough).
Ramsey - Landform parallels:
That SF 3546 - 85th session bill reminds me of SF 2500, for this most recent 86th session (2009-2010), where Jungbauer again was sole author, with SF 2500 specifically aimed at pecuniary benefit for City of Ramsey, (where Landform is a firm with Jungbauer as a key water-resources insider having a lucrative ongoing monthly five-figure cash flow from Ramsey coffers). For that parallel bill, this link, this screenshot:
SF 2500 was, if you recall, put into play Feb. 2010 (after Landform, with Jungbauer a key employee on water resources, was given an ongoing contract status to receive money from Ramsey).
I see a parallel, though not identical, set of facts and circumstances, disturbing to me. In two instances, each having an aim to attain a cash flow for Jungbauer either directly [the Connexus ploy], or for a business venture Jungbauer relies upon for a personal cash flow [the Landform ploy], the legislative office was used to introduce solely authored bills, each for the pecuniary interest of an entity tied into one of the separate Jungbauer cash flow boosting maneuvers.
I wonder if now young Niska, reelection campaign treasurer for Jungbauer as reported to the CFB, wishes he had hitched his wagon to a different star. Wife Jen, getting snug trust built with Emmer seems to have set a better direction for that family to pursue.
May voters get out the broom for a sweep-out. Peter Perovich is the DFL challenger to Jungbauer in SD 48. I support and voted for Perovich. I had never met him before he doorknocked the home before the DFL primary. I cannot say how he would discharge duties if elected, and as with Jungbauer, continued scrutiny of every elected official is a requisite. What I can say, I have not seen one single thing that would suggest the things that bother me about Sen. Jungbauer's behavior, would happen if Perovich wins. So far such worries are absent from all I have seen of Perovich.
Last, contast this. I am no champion of Tom Hackbarth in his HD 48A reelection effort, and instead believe DFL challenger Laurie Olmon would be an exceptionally good replacement for that seat. Yet in contrast to Jungbauer, I cannot point to any conflicting interest situation involving Hackbarth (not to say there could be one or not, but only saying I know of none).
Hackbarth, in the 85th Session, reportedly was sole author and sponsor of the parallel House bill to Jungbauer's SF 3546 item. This screenshot:
I believe readers can confirm, the House measure was identically worded.
As yet I have seen nothing whatsoever, indicating Hackbarth seeking a Connexus directorship.
If any such effort is known to any reader, please send an email giving an online link, or other evidence.
Absent that, it appears Jungbauer is alone in the two parallel situations, Ramsey and Connexus.
Hackbarth apparently has no part of either nor is there any indication of an inclination in such a direction.
It appears that Jungbauer is alone in the local GOP in twice meandering in directions I see as troublesome.
One question, if a bill in the 85th session was aimed at a tax break for the Great River generation and transmission cooperative, why is Jungbauer not directly soliciting that possible board membership, and aiming at Connexus instead?
This link, opens its executive summary at p.6, with introductory language:
Great River Energy (GRE) is a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative corporation providing wholesale electric service to 28 member electric distribution ooperatives, who provide retail service across a large part of Minnesota and a small part of Wisconsin. Our members serve some 631,000 loads that include residences and farms, commercial and industrial facilities, and other customers, representing approximately 1.6 million people in total. We are entirely owned by our members and are governed by a board of directors elected from among our members’ boards, who in turn are elected by their own members, the end-use consumers.
GRE’s mission is to provide our members with reliable energy at competitive rates in harmony with a sustainable environment. We strive to keep these three components, (1) competitive rates, (2) reliability and (3) environmental stewardship, as balanced objectives in the development and execution of our resource and other plans.
GRE’s members currently have a peak demand of approximately 2600 MW. Ours is a summer peaking system that is highly weather-sensitive. Because of this, GRE and its members have implemented extensive load management programs to reduce the need for peaking capacity and conservation and energy efficiency programs to reduce the need for both capacity and energy.
GRE’s supply portfolio consists of owned and purchased resources that utilize coal, natural gas, oil, wind, hydro, refuse-derived fuel, and methane energy.
[italics added] That answers why Jungbauer is not attempting to gain a board seat at Great River. He can't.
First, the nature of the set-up, and the likely scrutiny given to Great River's absorption vs. flow-through of tax subsidy gains means that distribution cooperatives of considerable sophistication are the member-owners of the Great River cooperative, and are hence capable of meaningful scrutiny. Moreover, the quoted language clearly states to be qualified to be on the Great River board you have to be on the board of one of the member-owner cooperatives. "... elected from among our members' boards" being unambiguous.
So all Mike's got a shot at is the next level down, Connexus where the multitude of ratepayer-owners are unsophisticated and not overly attentive to possibilities of board or management members feathering their own nests.
So, after having carried water for Great River, there is the glomming onto the Connexus cash flow possibility instead of aiming for Great River.
It's not there, any such possibility, directly for Mike, at Great River.
Because Jungbauer lives in the Connexus monopoly service area and has to and does buy home power from Connexis, Connexus is the only cash flow opportunity he could glom onto.
The entire Great River ownership-member pool is identified online, here. There are twenty-eight power distribution cooperatives.
As already noted Great River itself, and then all the other co-ops where he's not a member, are off-limits for opportunistic measures, meaning that the cash flow enhancement effort is of necessity aimed solely at Connexus.
While on the Minnesota Senate's energy committee. Having an influential legislative say on energy matters.
Give me a break. That's wrong. It might not violate any criminal statute, for all I know it might or might not, but you be the judge! Is this the best government citizens deserve?