Call to Action
It’s Time to Promote Transparency and Accountability
at Powell Valley Electric Cooperative
Over the years Powell Valley Electric Cooperative has maintained and perhaps improved on its primary mission to reliably distribute electric power in its largely rural service area. This speaks volumes for the men and women who work hard, often in bad conditions, to keep our lights on.
Unfortunately, PVEC’s achievement has been damaged by questionable policy decisions—especially the recent switch to widespread herbicide spraying. Also, the utility now faces a large number of lawsuits brought just recently, including several related to the spraying program and one concerning charges of financial corruption. The outcomes of these cases may erode the reputation of PVEC and increase costs to members.
Because PVEC is a cooperative utility, customers of PVEC are also the owners. So why are we allowing this alarming trend to continue?
Consider the following questions about the governance of our co-op:
- What have our elected representatives on the board of directors told us about these important issues?
- More important, what has the board done about these problems?
- Do you know the board member who represents your district? Did you even know there are districts?
- Why don’t the district maps clearly show boundaries such as roads and why are they posted out of sight to the member owners? Does it seem that PVEC doesn’t want you to know?
- Why are the same people nominated to continue on the board year after year? Who makes these nominations?
- Do you know that directors can be elected with as few as 26 members voting in favor out of the 30,000 members of PVEC?
- Do you know that the board of directors (our elected representatives) hold closed meetings? A member must “request to appear before the board” to attend a meeting and even then cannot stay for the entire meeting.
The longer our cooperative can keep its member owners in the dark the easier it is to continue down the road to corruption. PVEC’s closed meeting policy is ripe for decisions that are counter to the interests of members and doesn’t allow an assessment of the performance of board members who must be re-elected every three years.
It’s time to get more transparent about the business operations of PVEC and the decisions of elected board members who set the overall policies. Board meetings should be open to members who want to attend—just like a county commission, school board or utilities such as Knoxville Utilities Board.
A group of PVEC members has petitioned PVEC to allow a vote at the 2018 annual meeting to amend the by-laws to require that board meetings be open to members without request or notice. This will require members to show up at the annual meeting in September and vote in favor of the open meetings amendment.