Channel 4 I-Team looks into who sets NES salaries and how - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Channel 4 I-Team looks into who sets NES salaries and how

Posted: Updated:
NES CEO DeCosta Jenkins NES CEO DeCosta Jenkins
  • Most ReadMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • A string of car burglaries linked by a manufacturer flaw

    A string of car burglaries linked by a manufacturer flaw

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 6:01 PM EDT2014-08-26 22:01:36 GMT
    It's something Johnson City Police said they've never seen before.Police said starting in late July there's been a string of car burglaries with GM SUVs.In the last month this has happened to seven in Johnson City, four in Bristol, and none so far in Kingsport.One local GM dealer, Tim Copenhaver, told me with the more recent models from 2007 up to 2014 it's easy to cut the power off from the outside. He said he suspects thieves are going up under the front right wheel and cutting the electric...More >>
    It's something Johnson City Police said they've never seen before.Police said starting in late July there's been a string of car burglaries with GM SUVs.In the last month this has happened to seven in Johnson City, four in Bristol, and none so far in Kingsport.One local GM dealer, Tim Copenhaver, told me with the more recent models from 2007 up to 2014 it's easy to cut the power off from the outside. He said he suspects thieves are going up under the front right wheel and cutting the electric...More >>
  • Baby in critical condition after being left in trash can

    Baby in critical condition after being left in trash can

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:43 AM EDT2014-08-27 06:43:08 GMT

    Neighbors found the infant Tuesday, after hearing a sound coming from their trash can. 

    More >>

    Neighbors found the infant Tuesday, after hearing a sound coming from their trash can. 

    More >>
  • FL mother: 911 didn't help baby locked in hot car

    FL mother: 911 didn't help baby locked in hot car

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-08-26 22:17:20 GMT

    A 10-month-old accidentally locked himself inside a hot car, and his mom says a 911 dispatcher didn't immediately send help.

    More >>

    A 10-month-old accidentally locked himself inside a hot car, and his mom says a 911 dispatcher didn't immediately send help.

    More >>
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation exposed six-figure salaries for more than 100 top Nashville Electric Service executives just as many customers are paying their largest power bills ever.

Now, we've learned more about how those big paychecks are decided and the surprising move that helped the CEO get a big raise.

Workers at the not-for-profit agency NeedLink face tough choices every day about which of the customers who are about to have their power cut off need help the most.

"Right now, we get about $10,000 in requests per week," said Jann Seymour, who runs NeedLink.

Seymour said with this winter's high utility bills, they are seeing as many as 100 people each day filling out applications for emergency help paying overdue electric bills.

That's twice as many as usual, she said.

The group gives the highest priority to seniors and families with newborns.

"The need is great," Seymour said.

Madelyn Wade, of Hermitage, is grateful for NeedLink's help. She is a disabled senior on a fixed income.

Her normal electric bill is $200 a month, but in January it was $544.

Wade saw the Channel 4 I-Team investigation into executive salaries and raises at Nashville Electric Service.

"Shame on them," she said.

Electric bills are high simply because it's been so cold, but the I-Team wanted to look into how your electric dollars are spent at NES.

We found top executives at NES have gotten substantial raises in the last five years, despite the downturn in the economy.

NES CEO Decosta Jenkins' salary is now $388,000. That's a 51 percent increase over his salary in 2009.

He received a $130,000 salary increase during that five-year-period, even though the economy was in a slump and despite a critical audit of NES by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office.

None of the NES board members, including its chairman, Sam Howard, would talk on camera to the Channel 4 I-Team about how they established the CEO's salary.

Jenkins referred us to a compensation study done by a consultant NES has been using for about 15 years.

"The board hired a firm, an external firm, to do a comp study back in 1999, and they put in place a plan that covers all employees, including the president," Jenkins said.

That consultant is HayGroup, a company based in New Jersey. In the firm's most recent CEO compensation study, it compared salaries of CEOs at 34 utilities with a median revenue of $1.3 billion.

The list includes a number of publicly-traded utilities in New York, New Jersey and California.

In October 2013, HayGroup concluded that although Jenkins salary falls below the competitive range, it did not recommend a "material one-time increase in base salary to close the market gap." It cited factors including "the perception and magnitude of past pay adjustments, and overall company and individual performance."

The following month, in November 2013, the NES board recommended an increase of 5.75 percent for Jenkins.

HayGroup was paid $5,316 for its work.

Executive pay at NES has been a controversial topic. In 2009, Metro Councilman Jim Gotto proposed the city exert more control over the NES payroll, but that didn't go anywhere.

NES documents obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team shed light on what happened.

In Jenkins' annual performance review, he is praised for his work to ensure that "NES had sufficient votes to defeat the measure."

Jenkins earned the highest possible score on that section of his evaluation, the same evaluation that is used to determine his raise.

If you need help paying a utility bill, contact the following organizations:

AGENCY

PHONE NUMBER

NeedLink administers Project Help

615-269-6835

LADIES OF CHARITY

615-327-3430

METRO ACTION COMMISSION

615-862-8860

SALVATION ARMY

615-255-0554

Weatherization Assistance Program

615-252-8529//fax 615-252-8736

Mid Cumberland of Sumner County

615-452-7570

211

2-1-1

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • WDAM.com FeaturesMore>>