As you consider your vote for Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s (PEC) Board election, please note there are pivotal issues to consider. Since I was involved at the earliest stages of reform efforts for PEC and have followed closely its continuous improvement, I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
When the new PEC Board took over in 2009, after the Fuelberg era, much needed to happen. PEC had never given its members “capital credits.” It had refused to embrace renewable energy. Its Board election process and governance lacked transparency and was rife with financial abuse. It had numerous questionable contracts. In general, PEC was a mess.
Christi Clement and Larry Landaker are two of the new era Board members (both up for re-election) who successfully guided PEC into a responsible organization. Under their leadership, PEC now has a budget (yes that’s correct!), internal audits, policies for open meetings/open records/open elections, a Whistleblower program, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy goals, a Strategic Plan, a Directors’ Code of Conduct and an Ethics policy. None of these existed before this new era board.
They also established PEC’s first, ever, recurring distribution of capital credits – about $70M since 2009 – back to members and have increased member equity from a low 17% to a healthier range of 35% to 42%.
Major reforms take time but Clement and Landaker have been key players in accelerating the speed and effectiveness of these reforms. PEC is now reaping the benefits for its #1 priority — lowering of rates. Worth noting are three rate reductions in the past year, alone – all while maintaining a service-reliability rating among the highest in the nation.
Some candidates want open choice for PEC customers – meaning freedom to choose between purchasing electricity from PEC or from an investor owned utility (IOU). I have consulted with utilities including analyses of performance criteria and I will take a cooperative any day over an IOU. As co-op members, we own our utility and can make desired changes, as demonstrated in the ousting of the previous regime. IOUs are publicly owned companies that must respond to investor profit demands rather than ratepayer demands. Co-ops offer members local control and that’s critically important. While an IOU can manage its rates to attract new customers, evidence exists that over time, both their rates and reliability offer no advantages over a well run cooperative and in many cases do not perform as well. PEC is at risk of instability if we elect board members who want to allow co-op members such choices.
So, I’m voting for Cristi Clement (District 1) and Larry Landaker (District 6). Both believe in cooperatives and have extremely important knowledge bases about utility operations. They have gained back member trust for PEC by virtue of a superior record of accomplishments. They are progressive and innovative. Clement and Landaker are already winners, doing a stellar job. No changes are needed here! I hope you will consider joining me in supporting them.
Information on all candidates is available at www.pec.coop.
Former Travis County Commissioner, Pct. 3