Letter to the Editor, Union County News Leader, July 31, 2018

What’s up with Powell Valley Electric Cooperative? We don’t know! Members are left in the dark about many issues facing our utility.

PVEC is currently facing multiple lawsuits recently brought against it. Several have to do with the unannounced herbicide spraying that occurred in the service area in 2016 and 2017. Another lawsuit alleges financial corruption within the cooperative by a former employee of PVEC. Granted, there may be legal reasons that specific information about these suits cannot be shared. However, member-owners are not informed of these suits, which, if lost, could increase our electric costs!

TVA recently changed the rate structure in which it sells power to PVEC. According to some, this change will raise our bills. Many members are having trouble paying their bills already. What are they going to do now? Why have we not heard about this? What could we, as member-owners, have done to stop this if we were informed? Why are we kept in the dark?

Did you know that PVEC board meetings are closed?  They will tell you that they are open meetings, but they are not. A member is welcome to submit a request to address the board 20 days prior to the meeting. However, members can enter the meeting to address the board on their issue, then they must leave.  Most decisions and policies are made without the input of member-owners. The minutes of meetings are unavailable to members, so how do we know if decisions made are in our best interest? We don’t.

C Member Voices is working to change this policy. We submitted an amendment to the bylaws that would open board meetings and board committee meetings to the membership. At the Annual Meeting this year, a motion will be made to adopt the amendment. However, and according to the board, there will be no vote on this amendment until the 2019 Annual Meeting.  Nowhere in the PVEC bylaws does it say that we have to wait a year to vote on this amendment. “This is the way it has always been done”, is what the board has told our group. We believe a vote should happen this year!

Who is PVEC Member Voices? We are a group of member-owners just like you. We support and value the work of PVEC employees, the men and women that work hard to keep our lights on. Our goal is to make PVEC the best electric cooperative in the US.  To do that, we believe members should have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making of the co-op. We want our voices heard!  Please join us by visiting our website http://www.pvecmembervoices.wordpress.com or visit our Facebook page, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Member Voices, to learn more.

More importantly, attend the Annual Meeting September 15, 2018 at the Hancock County High School in Sneedville.  At the Annual Meeting you are treated to entertainment, lots of door prizes, information booths and guest speakers.  You will also have an opportunity to vote for three new board members who support open board meetings and member participation.   And hopefully, we will be able to vote on the open meeting amendment!

We, as members, elect the directors to manage the business of the cooperative.  However, we are not just members of the co-op, we are owners of the co-op. As a business owner, I want to know what those I employ are doing in my interest. Don’t you? It is time for transparency at Powell Valley Electric Cooperative!

 

Lynn Tobey

Sharps Chapel, TN