The PEC Board of Directors invited State Senator Troy Fraser and State Representative Patrick Rose to speak at its monthly Board meeting on August 16 in Johnson City. The elected officials said the Cooperative had made significant progress in the last two years, but were concerned about several issues, including PEC’s election process, Director compensation, the hiring of lobbyists and the termination of PEC’s former general manager.
“All of the problems we’ve talked about today are solvable,” said Sen. Fraser. “You have the power to make these changes. You were elected by the membership to make these changes.”
Some of the issues that the legislators focused on included:
• Single-member district voting.
• The Board of Directors’ level of compensation.
• The possibility that PEC is or was considering hiring a lobbyist for the upcoming legislative session.
• The manner and reasons for the termination of the former general manager’s contract.
In addition, Sen. Fraser suggested that PEC may have become too large and might need to be broken up into several small cooperatives.
Board President and District 6 Director Larry Landaker said the Board will consider revising PEC’s bylaws this year, and they will take up the issue of single-member district voting at that time. He also stated the Cooperative is not pursuing a lobbyist.
“We appreciate that Sen. Fraser and Rep. Rose came to today’s meeting, and we appreciate the opportunity to engage in a constructive and honest dialogue about the future of PEC,” Landaker said after the meeting. “This Board’s goal is to take an outstanding Cooperative and find ways to make it even better. To reach that goal, we must be open to all ideas. These legislators have an important and valuable perspective, and our members – many of whom are represented by Rep. Rose and Sen. Fraser – will benefit from today’s discussion.”
While the legislators were candid in their criticism of PEC, they also praised some of the positive developments that have taken place at the Cooperative. Rep. Rose led a round of applause for the employees, telling them, “You do all of the members a great service by your work.”
Sen. Fraser said, “The fact that we are sitting here having this discussion in an open meeting with the public and the press here speaks volumes about how far you’ve come over the past three years. The strides we’ve made are huge. We are making a tremendous amount of progress. The Co-op continues to be very well run, competitive and respected nationwide.”
Coming out of executive session, the Board unanimously voted to select the executive search firm of Mycoff, Fry & Prouse LLC to lead PEC’s search for a new general manager. Landaker said the firm estimated that the process would take six to seven months.
During the safety report, District 2 Director James Williams asked what the Cooperative is doing to respond to the recent increase of safety related incidents. Acting General Manager Luis A. Garcia informed the Board that PEC had implemented a safety stand-down in July to reinforce the importance of safety throughout the organization.
“We stopped every activity at this organization to talk about safety, and it really sent a loud and clear message to employees that safety is important,” Garcia said. “The incidents that are occurring are unacceptable and will not be tolerated from a management perspective, which is why it is getting the attention we are giving it today... You are starting to hear more of the commitment, and you are also going to see more action.”
The Board also heard a report about the implementation of PEC’s debt collection plan. This plan includes identity validation, deposits and a credit worthiness check. The Directors approved a resolution authorizing the general manager to implement the credit checks as part of this plan.
During the public comment section of the meeting, members spoke about the Cooperative’s open records policy, fiscal restraint, single-member districts and PEC’s debt collection plan.
In other action on Monday, the Board:
• Adopted a legislative policy providing guidelines for the Cooperative to interact with state and federal legislatures.
• Approved charters for the Executive Search Committee and the Compensation Committee.
• Agreed to include executive management in the Cooperative’s compensation study.
• Learned that PEC had received a capital credit distribution check from Texas Electric Cooperatives in the amount of $1.4 million.
• Heard that the plan to close the Georgetown office is proceeding on schedule, and the office will be closed and vacated by the end of August.
• Unanimously approved a franchise agreement with the city of Junction.
• Heard a report that PEC continues to move forward with its Smart Grid pilot program, and the Cooperative is reviewing its renewable and conservation goals.
The next regular Board meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on September 20 at PEC’s E. Babe Smith Headquarters Building in Johnson City.