A number of readers have posted comments on this blog, and an even greater number have sent e-mails with their thoughts. Some beg for a response, so here goes.
Many readers have expressed frustration and asked: "Is there anything that can be done?"
Yes, many things can be done. The relicensing process is over, but it dealt with only some of the relevant issues. Most of the core issues -- where the power is allocated and the criteria for industrial users, for example -- are rooted in federal or state laws or authority policy.
I'm working on a story that details the options.
Donn Esmonde, meanwhile, will weigh in with a column in Friday's paper and The News editorial board has something to say on Sunday
As for the handful of readers upset that we published the salaries of individual authority employees, I want to say first that they are employed by a public authority and paid with public funds and are in the very sense of the word public employees. We debated whether to publish the list and decided the information was relevant, given that one-fifth of the staff makes more than $100,000 and more than 250 made over$10,000 in overtime in 2005, the year we studied. The list provided interesting details of issues raised in the story
Another reader or two asked what the big deal was about the price of electricity, as the actual cost of power represents only a couple of dollars of a monthly bill. That's wrong. Power accounts for about half of the typical electric bill, and with energy prices soaring, that share can only go up
Finally, several readers asked a very legitimate question regarding the timing of the Power Failure series. Their query: Where was The News three or four years ago, when such reporting could have impacted the outcome of negotiations.
The News has published hundreds of stories about relicensing over the past decade. Many covered the process, others were enterprise stories done by some of our finest reporters, including Jerry Zremski, Mike Beebe and Phil Fairbanks. The stories did not necessarily deal with some of the issues my series did, but keep in mind it took me over a year to do what I did, and some of what I reported could not have been covered until the relicensing process had played itself out.
Looking back, we should have, and yes, if we had, it probably would have influenced the outcome of negotiations. The relicensing is just one chapter, however, albeit a big one. Many of the problems highlighted in the series can be addressed through legislation or changes in public policy. In fact, they are the only ways many of the problems can be addressed
So, yes, the paper's timing could and should have been better, but the game is far from over, and we're on the case for the duration.