All posts by Cristi

SAVE THE DATE: PEC invites members to April 23 candidate forum

Pedernales Electric Cooperative is inviting members to a forum to learn more about this year’s PEC Board of Directors candidates. The forum will be held Thursday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. at PEC headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City.

PEC plans to announce the official slate of candidates running for the Co-op’s Board on April 21. At the April 23 forum, each Board candidate will be given several minutes to present their views, and will take questions in a moderated format.

Ballots will be mailed so members begin receiving them by May 21, after which members will be able to vote by mail or online through June 12, or they may vote in person at PEC’s annual meeting June 20 in Cedar Park. Election results will be announced before the conclusion of the meeting.

Video of the candidate forum will be posted online at www.pec.coop/election, where members may also find additional details about the Co-op’s election.

See you there!

PEC honors linemen on National Lineman Appreciation Day

(Reposted from pec.coop)

America’s electric cooperatives have designated the second Monday of April as National Lineman Appreciation Day.

On April 13, 2015, PEC will honor the hardworking employees who often work in challenging conditions to keep the lights on.

The full text of the resolution, which the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Board adopted unanimously, follows:

“Whereas linemen leave their families and put their lives on the line every day to keep the power on; Whereas linemen work 365 days a year under dangerous conditions to build, maintain and repair the electric infrastructure; Whereas linemen are the first responders of the electric cooperative family, getting power back on and making things safe for all after storms and accidents; and Whereas there would be no electric cooperatives without the brave men and women who comprise our corps of linemen;

Therefore be it resolved that NRECA recognize the Second Monday of April of each year as National Lineman Appreciation Day and make available to electric cooperatives, materials and support to recognize the contributions of these valuable men and women to America’s Electric Cooperatives.”

We proudly recognize all electric linemen for the services they perform around the clock in dangerous conditions to keep power flowing and protect the public’s safety.

PEC invites members to take a moment to thank a lineman for the work they do. Visit the Co-op’s Facebook page or Twitter and leave a comment using #ThankaLineman to show your support for the men and women who light our lives.

MOVING FORWARD: PEC board approves new, expansive renewable energy plan

(Reposted from pec.coop)

Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors adopted at its March meeting a strategy for the development of several new renewable energy programs.

“This resolution is a key step in responding to our members’ desire for reliable and renewable energy solutions,” said PEC Board President Dr. Patrick Cox. “PEC management will launch a series of cost-effective efforts that will ensure stable, secure and responsible power for our growing cooperative.”

“Our objective is to further the Cooperative’s ability to serve its individual member’s needs in the area of renewable energy,” said PEC Chief Executive Officer John Hewa. “We are working on the development of cost-effective programs that will be available to both our residential and commercial members.

“With the beneficial pricing trends of photovoltaics,” Hewa added, “the Co-op grid is becoming more distributed, and the cooperative business model has an opportunity to evolve to support member interest in distributed generation.

news_pec-solar-home“We hear from members who are renewable enthusiasts, and we also hear from members who are concerned about subsidy. Our programs are being designed to satisfy both groups.”

The newly adopted strategy directs Cooperative management to begin development of a broad range of programs to help PEC reach its renewable goal and also respond to member requests:

  • The implementation of a distributed renewable generation program, including community solar projects available for member subscription and the development of commercial-scale arrays
  • On-bill financing to provide convenient access to low-interest rates to residential and commercial members deploying distributed generation systems
  • Encouragement by PEC of its primary power supplier, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), to continue to diversify its energy portfolio by providing cost-beneficial wholesale wind and solar resources

“We’re on the threshold of history at PEC,” said District 6 Director Larry Landaker just before the vote took place. “Passage of this landmark resolution moves PEC significantly forward in the attainment of its stated and reaffirmed renewable energy goals.”

PEC management will begin working immediately to develop unique programs for Board consideration. In pursuing the Cooperative’s renewable goal, management is seeking cost-effective methods and analyzing how recent, more competitive pricing in both wind and solar production could be passed along to members. PEC is pursuing its renewable energy goals in balance with other corporate goals, which include maintaining outstanding reliability and member service and becoming the lowest cost cooperative that purchases power from the LCRA.

“The PEC Board’s resolution to implement a variety of solar energy projects and on-bill financing is a clear sign that the Co-op has heard its members and understands the changing landscape of energy generation,” said Lucy Stolzenburg, Executive Director of the Texas Solar Energy Society.

CAPITOL WATCH: Rep. Tony Dale filed 2 bills to change PEC to single-member district elections

HERE WE GO AGAIN! REP. TONY DALE FILED 2 BILLS TO CHANGE PEC TO SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICT ELECTIONS.  EFFECTIVE DATE SEPTEMBER 1, 2015.

But, the PEC Board passed a resolution on March 17 to OPPOSE HBs 3391 and 5431. The bills would radically change and destabilize PEC. Click here to download the resolution.

The resolution passed with a 5-2 vote. Directors Emily Pataki and James Oakley voted NO.

The main lines are:
  • Under HB 5431, PEC current directors would be terminated as of November 2015.
  • The seven directors would have to campaign for re-election within newly-defined district lines.
  • Under the new rules, redistricting would be required to give each director an equal number of members from whom to seek election. Members would no longer vote at-large. Rather, they would be limited to vote in their district of residence and would vote only once every four years.
  • Runoff elections would be needed if no outright majority is won in the first round.
  • Elections would be held no later than Nov. 30.
  • Director terms would change from three years to four years without term limits.
  • Directors’ new terms would begin Jan. 31, 2016.

If this looks familiar, it’s because you’ve already voted on this issue twice: once in 2011 and again in 2014. Each time, single-member district elections were voted down, but no one seems to want to hear it.

I voted to oppose both bills. Such legislation would undermine and usurp member control. They are an unprecedented and unwarranted overreach into a private, member-owned cooperative. 

These bills can both affect PEC members because:

  • They constitute a potential adverse action that could destabilize and potentially downgrade PEC’s financial rating.
  • They could harm member/owner investment and could damage PEC’s business reputation. They would introduce absolute chaos. Chaos is unnecessary and harmful to PEC.

Earlier in 2014, I opposed the release of your voter records to PEC board candidates. I am a tireless advocate of openness and member privacy. I need your help to protect your rights as members.

Bill sponsors include: Rep. Tony Dale, Rep. Doug Miller, Rep. Andrew Murr, Rep. Paul Workman and Rep. Marsha Varney. You may contact any of these representatives at  www.house.state.tx.us

 

PEC FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS: I am announcing my candidacy for re-election to the Pedernales Electric (PEC) Board of Directors

     I am honored to have served you as PEC Board Director for District 1 since 2009.  District 1 includes almost all of Burnet County, plus small portions of Lampasas, Williamson and Travis counties. Like all Directors, I must be elected at-large. Although I represent District 1, I stand dedicated to serve the entire membership’s best interests.

I have served as your Board President, Vice-President and currently as your Board Secretary/Treasurer. This Board has been busy during these challenging and difficult 6 years. And together, thanks to your support, PEC has made historic reform to stabilize the cooperative.  I BELIEVE PEC IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. 

I am running for re-election as your PEC Director so I may continue to work on your behalf. Please engage with me now as I will need your help to prevail and continue the reforms.

TOGETHER, LET’S KEEP CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE GOING! TODAY, I AM ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT. SHARING THIS INFORMATION WITH PEOPLE IN YOUR NETWORK IS THE KEY TO MAKING OUR CAMPAIGN SUCCESSFUL.

I believe that the board’s hard-fought reform efforts are starting to pay off.  Our financial standing is stabilized and strong and we have solid executive leadership on board.  Our employees are dedicated, conscientious and committed to deliver excellent customer service.

     I believe that controlling costs and gaining operational efficiencies must be balanced with safety, reliability, and excellent customer service. Today, PEC’s reliability rate ranks in the top 10 percent.  As well, I want to ensure that PEC continues to be a safe, highly desirable place to work, and that all employees are valued and treated well.

I am very optimistic for PEC’s future. We have recently reduced rates and increased the amount paid to members for solar and wind production.  We have a Rate Study underway with the hope of developing new, more flexible rate plans.

I support finding lower cost energy sources. Lower prices for renewable energy may offer opportunities for competitive, low-cost power that consumes no water. Traditional generation consumes too much water to support current and future demand for power.  I support policies that encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy utilization when it is cost effective.  Affordability is the key to cost analysis.

I earned my BA degree from University of Oklahoma and MA degree in Procurement and Acquisition Management from Webster University in St. Louis MO.  For 13 years, I was an analyst/programmer for Union Equity Cooperative Exchange, a regional grain co-op involved in international trading and exports.  I also served as a United States Air Force Contracting Officer, held high level security clearances throughout my 24-year career. I have served both in the United States and in Europe.

  PAPER BALLOTS SHOULD BE IN YOUR MAILBOX BY MAY 20.  MEMBERS MAY VOTE ON-LINE AT THE ELECTION SERVICE PROVIDER, MY MAIL OR IN PERSON AT THE MEMBER ANNUAL MEETING JUNE 20 2015 AT THE LEANDER ISD PERFORMING ARTS CENTER LOCATED INSIDE CEDAR PARK HIGH SCHOOL. 

 

Membership participation strikes down resolution to make voter records public

A concerned membership outcry at PEC was the catalyst for the rescission of a resolution that would have opened member voting records to candidates. The argument for the release of the records was that it would allow candidates to better target known voters during a campaign. Director Scanlon introduced  RES-2014-79, quoting that she had reconsidered her previous vote. The rescission  passed on a 5-0-2 vote with member voting records remaining private.

When members learned of the passage of the first resolution, growing concerns regarding privacy were immediately voiced to some PEC Directors.  In the initial discussion, PEC’s General Counsel had also raised some cursory issues, including that of member privacy. While the idea may have had good intent, the unintended consequence and overall impact on PEC elections was considered too great.

Cooperative elections are not like governmental elections, where voter records are considered public. PEC elections are reserved for coop members only. PEC has very specific election procedures in place.  Member records are subject to Privacy Act protection and therefore should not be made public without member consent.

I am sharing this recent event to demonstrate how critical member involvement is.  PEC operates under a philosophy of openness and transparency to the maximum extent practicable. Executive Sessions are only used for sensitive matters that would be harmful to PEC if made public.

Developing and adopting policy seems like a simple and fairly mundane sort of task for boards for all sorts.  When the reforms at PEC began in 2008, incoming directors discovered out-of-date policies and other policies not compliant with standard business models.  The first few years of transformation have been spent on establishing better governance, instilling structure and discipline. It was critical to establish proper delegation of authority to executive management and staff. Most of all, it was essential to implement a fair and open election process that engages members.

The Board spent considerable time re-writing by-laws and also developing new election policies.  It was a high priority because the member lawsuit had just prevailed. It was time to retire the unfair and undemocratic election process that was in place.  At that time, a proxy voting methodology embraced the idea that members could vote as many times as they had meters.  The election system was board-controlled and members were blocked out.  That system had to be abandoned.

The new system is based on a “One man-one vote” concept and director nomination is by petition only. The election process is delegated to an independent third-party provider. In doing so, the election process is also protected from board and management intervention. The Board deemed it critical to regain member trust through a totally revised and transparent election process.

Your involvement in the life of PEC is critical. It is also critical to continue with our current philosophy and business model. We are now feeling the direct benefits of years of reforms and sound management. For the first time, PEC members will see a significant reduction in residential rates starting in Dec 2014. Click here to see my blog entry about the rate reduction.

On June 20, 2015, three director district positions — Districts 1, 6 and 7, will be put up to an at-large vote. Stay involved. Together, let’s keep up the good work.

PEC stands behind the new Hill Country Science Mill project in Johnson City

PEC remains focused on helping groom the skilled leaders of tomorrow.

The board stands behind the new Hill Country Science Mill. This new venture will soon open to the public in PEC’s hometown of Johnson City.

Children from school districts within a 100-mile radius of the town will have access to a state-of-the-art facility that includes, among many things, a 3D theater and a virtual autopsy exhibit using augmented reality technology.

The center is geared toward promoting science, math, engineering and technology careers to all.  I am 110% in support of this wonderful project, it fits in my vision of PEC as a partner and collaborator in education and community development.  The Mill is an extraordinary opportunity for our kids.  It was my pleasure attending the Mill’s soft opening on Saturday, Nov. 15, along with many other friends. Pass the word around. Talk to your children’s teachers, school administrators and mentors about it.

PEC members: Know your rights, get involved

All members of PEC will once again have an opportunity to get involved in an essential guiding principle of the cooperative model. That principle is the member democratic control, or the right for all members to choose their directors on the PEC board.

PEC is divided into 7 director districts.  Each member is assured to have a director who resides within their home district.  The Board of Directors must make decisions as a body and decide what is best for all PEC members without bias.  As PEC members, you can elect directors from Districts 1, 6 and 7 by simply voting in the upcoming PEC election on June 20, 2015.

You are assured a right to fair and open elections. Such rights were written into the PEC’s Articles of Incorporation. The elections are to be run by an independent third party, which the board cannot control.  Any member can run for a Director position if they meet the straightforward qualifications in the bylaws.

Why take the time to vote in this election?

Simple. The PEC directors form the board that makes decisions on your behalf. Their decisions affect the overall performance of the cooperative and therefore, affect you, as they impact the cost of power.

Make your voice heard by voting in every annual election. Stay involved and be informed about what is going on at PEC. The Board of Directors is accountable to you as a body, as is each director individually. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Should you want to contact me, please call me at (830) 693-6094 or via email at cristi@cristiclement.com.

The election cycle kicks in at the upcoming December 8 Board meeting. The overall election timeline will be adopted.

Beyond this meeting, here are some important benchmark dates:

  • January 20 2015 – Ballot information and candidate petitions will be posted on the pec.coop website
  • Candidate hopefuls will then begin obtaining signatures for nomination
  • April 6 2015 – Candidate hopefuls return petitions and other documents to PEC headquarters
  • April 20 2015 – The PEC Board will approve all candidates and any other ballot items
  • May 21 2015 – Ballots are mailed out to members and online voting activated
  • June 20 2015 – Onsite voting only and publication of election results.

I will make an attempt at contacting as many people as possible in coming weeks. Right here and through my Facebook page, I will keep you posted on current issues, advise you on my campaign progress and always answer any questions you may have. I believe this is an incredibly important election in the life of PEC.

We’ve come a long way since 2009 when I first was elected. Still, a tremendous transformation is underway and much work needs to be done. We have a very bright future ahead, if we keep on the constructive improvement path.

Together, we can keep it going!

Good news for PEC Members: Rates are going down

PECRateDecreaseJust in the eve of the holiday season 2014, PEC residential members will see a delivery charge reduction applied to their electric bills. The new rate of $0.02712 per kilowatt-hour is a significant decrease from the old rate of  $0.03212. The change results in a $5 savings for every 1,000 kwh used. PEC’s average monthly residential use is 1,275 kwh. Consequently, the majority of PEC’s residential members should see even greater savings on their bills. Rates reductions will be reflected in PEC electric bills prior to the end of this year.

This reduction was possible because of PEC’s aggressive focus on cost decreases and operational improvements. There are multiple moving parts that have to align perfectly before a rate reduction is implemented. This decision was carefully examined and was justified. It is the purpose of the board to find ways to pass some of the savings back to you, our members.

Also, we are pleased to announce that your capital credits distribution amount will also appear as a credit to your balance on your December bill.

Furthermore, the Cost of Service Study is currently underway and the end product will be a total redesign of our rate structure. Recommendations will be under review early in 2015. We are hoping to offer more customer choices such as consumption management, bill payment, time of use rates and many other features.

The PEC board has worked hard to organize finances and stayed focused on cost reduction. As such, we’ve kept an eye on debt obligation and expenses, and also implemented a plan to increase member equity from 17 percent to 35 percent within five years. PEC also has a mature capital credits program returning about $13 million to our members each year.

We are in the cost-reduction mode on many fronts and remain so.
Promises kept. Let’s keep positive progress going! It’s hard work but we can do it.

PEC power supplier LCRA dedicates new Ferguson power plant

lcra-ferguson-plant46F93C13822B
Aerial view of LCRA’s new Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant on Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay

 

Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s primary wholesale power supplier, the Lower Colorado River Authority, dedicated its new Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant on Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay Oct. 15. The new 540-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas power plant is producing power for the state’s electric grid as one of the newest and most efficient, reliable electricity generating facilities in Texas.

LCRA invited PEC Board directors and Co-op executives to the dedication ceremony for the new plant, which was constructed next to and replaces the original 420-megawatt Ferguson plant built in 1974.

“This is an advanced, world-class power plant,” said PEC Board President Dr. Patrick Cox. “Not only is it efficient and clean, but it is also in our service area. We commend LCRA for investing in local and environmentally responsible energy generation and for continuing to be a stable source of power for our members.”

As a distribution cooperative, PEC does not generate the power it sells to its members. The Co-op buys electricity from wholesale suppliers, with LCRA providing the majority at around 84 percent in 2013.

LCRA’s new Ferguson plant is among the most environmentally responsible power plants in Texas, producing 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions per megawatt-hour than the original plant and using only one-third of the water of a comparably sized steam plant. The greenhouse gas permit issued for the new plant by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 was the first permit to be issued under new federal rules requiring power plants to utilize the best available technology to reduce greenhouse gases.

The new plant also uses about 35 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour than the original plant and incorporates advanced technology that makes it capable of starting and ramping up quickly.​ In addition, the plant’s water intake velocity was reduced to lessen the impact on fish and other aquatic species. LCRA also made minimizing noise from the new plant a priority, including having sound-absorbing, engineered walls surround most of it.

The original Ferguson plant was taken off line in September 2013 and is being dismantled, and the site will be restored to its pre-construction condition with backfill, topsoil and bluebonnets.

At a glance: LCRA’s new Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant

  • Located on Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay.
  • Replaced the original 420-megawatt Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant next door.
  • Can generate 540 megawatts of power.
  • Produces 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions, uses 35 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour and uses about one-third less water than the original plant.
  • Construction generated about $25 million for the local community.
  • Groundbreaking took place on April 27, 2012, dedication was on Oct. 15, 2014, and completion is scheduled for the end of November 2014.