Letter to the Editor, Powell Valley News, July 30, 2018 and Sneedville Shopper, August 6, 2018

You Own Powell Valley Electric Cooperative:

Introducing PVEC Member Voices

Over its 80 years of service, 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 achievements have been damaged by questionable policy decisions – including the recent switch to widespread herbicide spraying. Additionally, the utility now faces a large number of lawsuits, including several related to the right-of-way herbicide spraying program and one concerning charges of alleged financial impropriety. PVEC denies these charges, but the outcomes of these cases may erode the reputation of PVEC as well as increase costs to members.

Because PVEC is a cooperative utility, customers (better referred to as members) of PVEC are also its owners. PVEC states that the board members “represent the views of all members,” but is this truly the case? These meetings are not publicized or open to members, and neither are the minutes made available to us. Members can make a “request to appear before the board,” and if approved they must be escorted into the meeting, state their business and then promptly leave the meeting. Why would this be?

It’s time for more transparency regarding the business operations of PVEC and the decisions of the elected board members who set its overall policies. Board meetings should be open to any and all members who want to attend – just like a county commission, school board, or utilities such as Ft. Loudon Electric Cooperative and Knoxville Utilities Board – with no need for secrecy.

In order to improve the situation, a group of PVEC members has petitioned PVEC to allow a vote at the 2018 annual meeting to amend the by-laws so to require that board meetings be open to members without request or notice. ​To pass this important amendment, members – yes, like you and me – must show up at the annual meeting on​ ​September 15, 2018​ ​(which this year will be in held in Sneedville at Hancock County High School) and​ ​vote in favor of the open meetings amendment​.

Additionally, in light of the facts – that PVEC has been under the general management of the same individual for well over two decades, that in 13 years only 2 people holding positions on the board of directors has changed (each of which were replaced by family members), and that the board itself controls its own nominating process – we are respectfully asking PVEC member-owners like you to take an active role in ushering in a fresh perspective promoting positive change for the good of our communities.

We are working to bring new nominees into the process to fill the 3 seats up for election this year. But the only opportunity to vote for new board members and to pass the open-meetings amendment is to be present at the annual meeting on September 15 – so come out and make your voice heard!

We are PVEC Member Voices – folks like you, in your community. We are not part of any local, state or national group. We are farmers, teachers, parents and grandparents – and members and owners of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, just like you. We appreciate the commitment of the hardworking employees that keep our power on every day, but we are concerned with the policies made behind closed doors that affect us all. And we also recognize that, in addition to providing electricity to our homes and businesses, our co-op can be a driver of economic development within our community. We want to work together with the leadership of PVEC in the interest of the common good of our communities, rather than in the interest of a few. So we are coming together to discuss our rights and our responsibilities as member-owners, and we invite you to join us.

Please explore our website at ​pvecmembervoices.wordpress.com​ and join our Facebook group “Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Member Voices.”

We also welcome you to email us at ​pvecmembervoices@gmail.com​ or call us at (423) 724-8258.

 

Learn what it truly means to be a member-owner, how you can affect the changes you want to see in your cooperative, and so much more. Become an active informed member-owner of PVEC and join a growing local movement to help our cooperative become the BEST member-owned electric utility in the USA!

Respectfully,

Micki M. Haverland

Thorn Hill, TN

Member, PVEC Member Voices