PEC's newly elected Board Member, Ross Fischer
Larry Landaker, PEC's President of Board of Directors
Pedernales Electric Cooperative. The name used to be synonymous with closed-door meetings and conjured up images of a good ol’ boys club and the smoke-filled room, where the public was shut out of the decision-making process.
Today Pedernales Electric Co-op (PEC) board members voted for a proposed strategic meeting in October to be open. They had originally proposed the meeting be closed, as electric cooperatives, like some other public utilities and agencies, have an exception under the Public Information Act exempting “personnel, real estate, legal and competitive matters.”
Enter Ross Fischer, District 5′s newly-elected representative on the PEC board, who raised concerns about holding closed meetings, saying “The outcome is going to be meaningless because the stakeholders aren’t going to be a part of it”. Having served as the head of the Texas Ethics Commission before he was elected to the Board in June, Fisher emphasizes transparency in conducting those meetings. Fischer is right, of course– how do you make decisions about the future of a member-owned electric cooperative if the member-owners can’t attend?
On Monday, Board President Larry Landaker said the meeting, for the most part, will be public.
Four of the board members voted for the meeting to be public. In addition to the president, and Fischer, Patrick Cox and James Williams also voted against the old policy.
The Board of Directors also revised its record-access policy. Though members are not allowed to access records that pertain to protected categories (legal, personnel, and competitive matter) as it has always been, other records are more accessible and members can now write a complaint letter to the General Manager who has to take a corrective action within 20 days.
Public Citizen commends the Board of Director at PEC for taking such an action in order to increase the level of transparency under which, the Co-op functions and we urge them to keep the spirit of reform they have and use it to ameliorate the services and satisfy its members. Pedernales needs to be a model for openness for other co-ops and utilities, but this just shows that transparency must be a constant vigil.
To get an update on the Board’s recent reform, actions, and policy revisions, please click here.
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