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February 5, 2012

Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012, at 1:41 PM

Today is Super Bowl Sunday! This is the forty-sixth Super Bowl, and I have been around for all of them. I heard on the news today that tickets for the first Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs sold for between six and twelve dollars. That was in 1967. The same source said that tickets for today's Super Bowl started at six hundred dollars. I watched the University of Missouri Tigers defeat the University of Kansas Jayhawks Saturday night. Can anybody guess which team Ruben "Rooster" Cogburn was pulling for? According to ESPN, tickets for the MU vs. KU game started at two hundred dollars and went up to two thousand dollars.

What does talk of pro football, college basketball, and ticket prices have to do with the City of Malden?

The Malden Board of Public Works met last week and the primary topic was, as always, the cost of utilities. The main discussion was the cost of electricity. Obviously the cost of electricity, like the price of tickets to sporting events, has increased dramatically over the years. Malden is not unique with the problem. I noticed on KFVS that AmerenUE has filed for a large rate increase with the Missouri Public Service Commission. AmerenUE cited all the common reasons for needing more money from their customers.

The Malden BPW is somewhat unique in cost factors driving our electrical price to our rate payers. In 2004 the City of Malden entered into an agreement with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electrical Utility Commission known as MJMEUC. Believe it or not they refer to it as "mush-muck." MJMEUC sold revenue bonds and that bought about a quarter of a billion dollars worth of a new coal fired generating plant to be built at Plum Point, Arkansas. I believe that amounted to about one-sixth of the plant's capacity. The Malden BPW bought a small portion of that capacity.

The Malden BPW's intent was to guarantee Malden a supply of electricity at a reasonable price. Federal Mogul was still in Malden in 2004 (they left in 2007), and Federal Mogul used at any given time about twenty percent of the electricity sold by the Malden BPW.

The short, and not exactly accurate, version is that Federal Mogul left Malden, and in 2008 the national economy slipped into the worst economic depression since the 1930's. Malden currently is buying by contract more electricity than it needs. We have to pay for it whether we use it or not and even if we can find a less expensive source. With the national and world economy in a slump, there are cheaper sources.

The Malden BPW in effect got into the commodities market for energy. Our position is not the best right now. Time and the efforts of the BPW will hopefully let us win through this situation. Efforts are being made to find a market for our excess energy at a price that is not unpalatable to our locally owned utility. Our BPW also has to guess what the future will bring to Malden as far as needs for electricity are concerned. No one has a crystal ball. Who would have predicted an increase in the price of sporting event tickets in my lifetime that exceeds a hundredfold?

If you need or want more detailed answers, please attend a meeting of the BPW on the last Tuesday of each month at 5:00 P.M. at their office building. The Malden City Council meets again on February 21, 2012 at the city hall at 7:00 P.M. As always, we will spend your money wisely or foolishly depending on your point of view.

The financial report is as follows:

January 27, 2012

Balance $1,226,731.63

Revenues $156,952.72

Expenses $163,655.98

February 3, 2012

Balance $1,220,028.37

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