Pedernales Electric’s Board of Directors voted in its Oct. 19 meeting to continue the Cooperative’s rebate programs for commercial lighting and for heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The vote to direct funds to the rebate programs to use in 2010 came at the recommendation of the Board’s committee on Energy Conservation and Renewable Generation Programs.
The rebate programs assist members trying to improve the energy efficiency of their homes or businesses. The HVAC rebate program provides incentives for members to upgrade from older, less efficient units. Through September of this year, the Cooperative has paid $766,300 in HVAC rebates to members and $17,458 to commercial members installing efficient lighting in their buildings. The HVAC rebate program has had increased participation from members for the past five years. The conservation-minded rebates are consistent with the Board’s 2008 goal to reduce residential and commercial electric use Cooperative-wide by up to 20 percent.
PEC General Manager Juan Garza, attending his first regular Board meeting since returning to work following major surgery, noted before the vote that conservation is essential to the Cooperative’s future. “The power industry has concluded that the cheapest form of new energy is conservation.”
District 3 Director Kathy Scanlon formally announced the dissolution of Texland Electric Cooperative, a dormant 1980s joint venture between PEC and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to build generation facilities. District 7 Director Dr. Patrick Cox, who also served as treasurer of the reconstituted Texland board, presented a final summary of Texland’s bank transactions. Cox reported that Texland’s final account balance of $566,498.93 was issued to Texland in the form of a check by Cattleman’s National Bank; this amount has been transferred to PEC according to a memo to the Board from PEC General Counsel Luis Garcia.
Garcia also said incurring further legal expenses would outweigh any attempt to recover lost interest on the account. Said Scanlon, “We did explore what chances we would have of recovering any kind of interest or attorney’s fees, and we really felt we could have used all that money in legal fees just to end up with nothing.” Judicial District Court Judge Dan Mills ruled in PEC’s favor this summer on an interpleader action filed by Cattleman’s, determining the Texland funds belong to the Cooperative and that Cattleman’s was not entitled to reimbursement of legal fees.
In a report given to the Board on PEC’s financial state, PEC Chief Financial Officer Mike Vollmer indicated the Cooperative has generated a higher revenue and margin this year due to increased kilowatt-hour sales, mostly as a result of hotter weather. The health of PEC’s year-to-date revenue and margin has increased the Cooperative’s equity as a percent of assets, as well as its debt service coverage. Vollmer also announced that PEC has mailed out to eligible members personal letters regarding capital credit allocations. PEC plans to distribute capital credits to members in November as credits on electric bills.
During the member comment sections of the meeting, comments were made supporting Board term limits, thanking the Board for waiving reconnection fees and funding PEC’s Community Assistance Program, questioning Board expenses and plans, and asking the Board to reconsider district boundaries.
Several members also voiced opinions about single-member voting districts. The Board later voted against directing its Governance, Bylaws and Legal Committee to offer recommendations on single-member districts and Board term limits for the Board to consider at its November meeting. This committee plans to address these and other issues in a complete analysis of the Cooperative’s bylaws.
In other action at Monday’s meeting, the Board:
• Heard reports from all four Board committees, Cooperative Finance Corporation CEO Sheldon Petersen, and a team from St. Edward’s University. The St. Edward’s team gave a presentation about PEC’s efforts to implement servant leadership.
• Directed management to develop a preliminary recommendation concerning an action plan to reduce uncollectible debts and to make a final recommendation at the Board’s November meeting.
• Received an update from PEC Communications Manager Michael Racis on the Cooperative’s online MyUse Energy Analyzer. Racis said about 14,000 members have used the tool to run reports on their electric use and costs.
• Approved an amendment to PEC’s agreement with BridgePoint Consulting, LLC for conducting internal auditing activities.
• Approved $37,000 in funds for the Cooperative to make available for scholarships in 2010 for area students. While PEC still plans to award 50 scholarships in the amount of $1,000, donations and escheat funds will cover the other $13,000 in scholarship money to be disbursed.
The next Board meeting will be held at 10am on November 16 at PEC’s E. Babe Smith Headquarters Building in Johnson City.