After promising to do better to keep residents informed regarding its operations, the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) waited until late Friday afternoon — just before the start of the Labor Day weekend — to release its 145-page board meeting agenda for Tuesday (September 6th).
During the September 6th meeting, the OCPA board grappled with yet another audit of the agency — this one by the County of Orange. The board also had to address questions regarding who can be a board member and how board members are selected.
The board endorsed a procedure proposed by OCPA staff for cooperating with the County on an audit, even as an audit by the City of Irvine remains stalled because of OCPA staff’s failure to provide Irvine with documents first requested in June.
The OC Board of Supervisors voted last month to demand an audit of OCPA as questions and controversy continue to cloud OCPA’s scheduled October 1st roll-out of electricity service to residential customers in Irvine.
The supervisors want a financial audit as well as an evaluation of the Power Authority’s contracts with power suppliers. The staff plan endorsed by the OCPA board proposes that the County participate in Irvine’s financial audit — which has been dead in the water for three months.
The OCPA board also created an ad hoc committee to negotiate with the County on any disagreements that arise. That committee includes Supervisor Don Wagner, the County’s representative on the board who voted against the County audit, Huntington Beach Councilmember Dan Kalmick, who supports an audit, and Irvine Councilmember Mike Carroll, who has chaired the OCPA board since the scandal-plagued agency’s inception.
As for the audit of power contracts, the OCPA board endorsed the idea of retaining an auditor approved by the County but hired by OCPA. This would enable OCPA to maintain the secrecy of its power-purchase contract provisions, thereby continuing to keep the public in the dark.
The OCPA board also voted to change its rules about board members, who are currently selected by the member cities and the County for four-year terms that could last longer than their City Council or Board of Supervisors terms.
The new rules will have OCPA board members serve two-year terms, so long as they remain on their respective City Councils or Board of Supervisors, but they also can be removed or replaced by those bodies at any time.
Going forward, the Chair and Vice Chair of OCPA will be selected by the board for one-year terms, instead of the current four-year terms.
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