Blanco County News
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Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 • Posted April 19, 2012

The Cooperative as a Gas Station – PEC Members for CHOICE: Regular or Premium?

Suppose you lived in an area where a small group of seven people had fixed it so that you had to buy gas from only one station, the one they ran.

Suppose that because of their friendship with the folks who made their living by pushing premium gas, rather than regular, the least expensive grade, the seven running the station bought as much premium as they could, mixed it with regular, and stocked their station tanks with that mixture, and only that.

If you wanted gas, you bought the expensive premium mixture, from this station, or you did without. The seven offered no other choice, and you couldn’t shop anywhere else. Would you be a satisfied customer? Would you feel abused?

Then suppose one day you and a lot of other unhappy customers suddenly realized that you actually owned the station, and that the seven people running it actually worked for you. How would you feel then? And what might you do?

Do you think you might want to fire the seven people running the station, or as many as you could when their contracts expired, and hire new people? Do you think you might insist that the station you own offer a choice of grades, regular as well as premium, so the “customers” might decide for themselves what kind of gas they wanted, and how much extra, if any, they wanted to pay for it?

Substitute electric power for gas, and you have today’s Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the exclusive provider of power for this area. You can’t go elsewhere. If you want power, you take what PEC offers, at the rate it sets. And what the Board of Directors has decided to offer is not the lowest-cost product on the market. Rather than offer power at the lowest possible cost, consistent with sound business practices, the directors have chosen to force members to purchase a more expensive product, consisting of low-cost power from LCRA and more expensive power exclusively from renewable sources such as the wind turning turbines along the Texas coast.

Thanks to this choice the directors made, we members paid $7.7 million more last year than we would have needed to pay for the same amount of power. And now these directors want to add even more of this expensive power to the mix! Fortunately for us, we do own the cooperative! We can affect the decisions that are made with respect to the rates we are forced to pay. We can start by electing three new directors when we vote in the PEC Board election this June

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