Posts Tagged ‘pec’

On April 13th, the Uptown Marble Theater at 218 Main Street in Marble Falls will present the world theatrical premiere of Green Dreams, a 50 minute documentary about the revolution at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative. Following the screening will be a meet & greet with PEC’s newly-hired CEO, R.B. Sloan.

[vimeo 21828817]

Former PEC General Manager Bennie Fuelberg has been sentenced to 300 days in jail, the entire former board of directors has either resigned or been voted out. The co-op has been wracked with scandal and tales of intimidation and mismanagement.

But a new day has dawned. PEC has a new, leaner, reform-minded board of directors, new bylaws and a member Bill of Rights. Transparency and member input have become desirable goals when once they were forbidden. And, some say, it all began with a phone call.

In 2006, filmmaker Ric Sternberg called the PEC, his electric co-op, for information about any “green” programs that the co-op might offer. This phone call led to more calls until he began to realize that decisions were being made by what appeared to be a rubber-stamp board of directors who maintained their well-paid positions, some for as many as 40 years, by a proxy voting process that was rigged – no competition.

Ric registered a web domain and organized a loose-knit group of PEC members who called themselves PEC4U. That rag-tag organization began the struggle for democracy and transparency at the Pedernales Co-op, which soon led to a member lawsuit and the “house of cards” crumbling. Meanwhile Ric, being a documentarian, started to record the process. Green Dreams is the result. It tells the story of the revolution and then talks about the future as it might be. The film is being presented as a conversation-starter – the beginning of a dialogue among members about where PEC should be headed.

The film screening will be followed by a meet & greet – an opportunity for PEC members to meet R.B. Sloan, the Pedernales Electric Co-op’s brand new CEO.

The theater will open at 7:00pm for casual socializing. The program will begin at 7:30pm. After the screening, the filmmaker and some of the people seen in the film will be available for Q&A. The meet & greet with Mr. Sloan will be in the theater’s lobby, beginning at about 8:45pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.

The documentary will be shown at other theaters in the PEC service area.  Watch for other scheduled showings.

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After only a day of deliberation, the jury has returned a guilty verdict on former Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) general manager Bennie Fuelberg on all counts of money laundering, theft, and misapplication of fiduciary property.

During the two weeks of trial, the prosecution showed how Bennie Fuelberg filtered money through Clark, Thomas & White, the co-op’s law firm, to his lobbyist brother, Curtis, and Bill Price, the son of a co-op board member.  Fuelberg also misdirected staff, removing oversight of the co-ops legal bills from other managers in an attempt to hide the money being passed through to his brother.

Prosecutor Harry White detailed this in his closing arguments Thursday: “The reason Bennie Fuelberg kept a secret was because he knew it was wrong. What he did was he took money that didn’t belong to him, that belonged to normal people, and gave it to his brother.”

As an aside, Clark, Thomas & White repaid over $4 million in fees to PEC in a separate lawsuit, showing just how much money Bennie siphoned away from the co-op over the years.

Several of us here at Public Citizen are current or former PEC members.  We were part of the original investigations and lawsuits that opened up the wretched hive of scum and villany that Fuelberg had turned the co-op into, and have worked for and are proud of the reforms that have taken place in the past few years.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Picture was obtained from the Statesman

PEC's newly elected Board Member, Ross Fischer

Picture was obtained from the Statesman

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.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Logo for PEC

Rep. Patrick Rose this morning had an opinion piece printed regarding transparency reforms at the  Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) , echoing similar criticism from the Austin American Statesman last week.  I’m not saying I agree with every word Rep. Rose wrote here in this morning’s San Marcos Local News, but this shows that this will likely be an issue in the upcoming Legislative Session.  As a bit of history, Rep. Rose (D-Dripping Springs) and Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), both of whom are members of the co-op, tried to pass a bill to increase transparency at PEC last session, but that ultimately failed when, as with so many other issues, it got killed by Voter ID.

As an aside and for full transparency’s (ha!) sake, Rep. Rose is also my State Representative and I have to give him a big hat tip for the work he has done in working to reform the PEC, as that work directly affects the electric bills my family and neighbors pay every month.

District 45 State Representative

Rep. Patrick Rose by the river

Our three-county district is served entirely by electric co-ops and municipally owned systems. I believe that public power has served our area well and kept costs lower than other energy providers across the state. As we continue our efforts to protect and grow jobs in our region, energy affordability is key. This is one of the many reasons why I am committed to a strong and transparent Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC).

On Monday, Senator Troy Fraser (R-Marble Falls) and I spoke at the August meeting of the PEC board of directors. I appreciate every opportunity to meet with the board and co-op members about our reform efforts.

My remarks were focused on my strong disapproval of the board’s latest mistake that cost co-op members $1 million, firing its general manager days before the election of two new board members. In June, PEC seated its first ever 100 percent democratically elected board. This decision could have and should have waited until the new board members, duly elected by the members, were sworn in.

The two outgoing directors were part of the legacy board that allowed for and participated in the mismanagement and corruption at PEC that was brought to light over the last few years. They should not have been part of any decision that impacts the future of PEC. At the meeting, I repeatedly asked Larry Landaker, PEC’s board president, to explain why he and two other board members joined forces with the last two legacy members. He could not answer the question, and furthermore, he admitted that the board did not have cause for the firing, thus costing co-op members $1 million.

These actions are unacceptable and show the irresponsibility and lack of transparency that justify legislation. What co-op members can count on, regardless of the makeup of the PEC board or who is general manager, is that Sen. Fraser and I are committed to transparency and openness at our cooperative. The legislature will reconvene in January and we will proceed with our effort to statutorily protect members’ rights. (more…)

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Original post can be found at the ReEnergize Texas Blog

On Tuesday, students from Southwestern University’s Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge (SEAK) had intended to speak before the Georgetown City Council regarding the 20 year energy plan for their city.  They had registered an agenda item with the City Secretary’s Office, asked all the right questions about who could speak and for howlong, and everyone was in City Council chambers ahead of the meeting forms in hand and polite, thoughtful, well-reasoned remarks committed to memory.

SEAK’s charismatic President, Connor Hanrahan, went to the mic and spoke politely about hoping to form a positive “working relationship” with the city as they discussed aspects of the energy plan and in particular a provision to purchase 30% of their electricity from nuclear power plants.

“We are not here to protest nuclear,” he said, “but want to discuss new information that affects this plan.”

And then the Mayor dropped a bomb.  Citing a “misunderstanding” about City Council procedures, he informed Connor and the group of students and allies he’d brought with him that they would not be allowed to speak at the meeting that evening.  To his credit, Mayor Garver did make an effort at conciliation by offering Connor the opportunity to nominate 2 members of his party to speak for 3 minutes apiece, but the notion was quickly rebuked by Councilwoman Pat Berryman, a known proponent of nuclear power.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Think Pedernales Electric Coop and CPS Energy.  These two major electric utilities in Texas have been recently embroiled in controversy over failure to provide information, give the public access to speak, and making bad, even corrupt decisions from positions of power.  As a result, reform candidates have been elected to the PEC Board of Directors and two of its former members face multiple felony indictments.  At CPS, two executives have been placed on leave while its board investigates why the utility failed to disclose new cost estimates to the public and the San Antonio City Council.

Why would Georgetown’s Mayor and City Council tell local students they had no right to speak about the energy future of their own city?  Because the rules said so?  Can a member of the City Council not make a motion to suspend the rules?  In fact they can, but no member of the City Council had the courage or good sense to make that motion and give their constituents the opportunity to weigh in on an issue of city governance. (more…)

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I came across this article recently in the Express-News’ Northwest Daily and had to share.

Boerne, population c. 9,400, located about 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, will soon establish a framework for the development of distributed generation.

Under the terms of an ordinance that passed a first reading on July 28, each single-family residence or business could generate solar or wind power for its own use, then send excess energy back to the electric grid, ultimately saving the amount of electricity the city would have to buy from wholesalers.

“This is an opportunity to add renewable power to the electric utility,” said Don Burger, assistant director of Public Works.

Sounds good to me.  Several questions remain though.

  1. What, if any, will the buyback rate be for electricity put back onto the grid from someone’s rooftop solar system or small wind turbine, for example?
  2. Boerne currently buys all of its electricity from LCRA, which gets most of its power from coal and gas, and is also contracted for 200 MW of the new Sandy Creek coal plant under construction near Waco.  Will Boerne adopt a progressive power provision similar to the one adopted by Pedernales Electric that allows PEC to generate up to 35% of its electricity from local sources like energy efficiency and renewable energy?
  3. Will Boerne set up energy financing districts?  HB 1937 (Villareal) passed the Legislature earlier this year. It allows cities to set up districts wherein the city may issue bonds to cover the costs of major energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy projects for homes and/or businesses. The loan would then be repaid by a special voluntary tax assessment on the property.

Boerne is a publicly-owned utility, which means it is accountable to the people of Boerne, not some power company who may not have residents’ interest at heart when making decisions on power. If you live in Boerne, take a moment to express your support for local renewable energy development to mayor Dan Heckler and city council.

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Board Promises Transparency, Whistleblower Protections, Open Meetings

AUSTIN, Texas – The first meeting of the new board of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) on Monday marked an unprecedented change in leadership and vision for the nation’s largest electric cooperative. Not only is the majority of the board progressive reformers, but it is led by an entirely new executive body that has promised to prioritize transparency, accountability, whistleblower protection, renewable energy and energy efficiency new priorities.

“The PEC has an opportunity to be a national leader among co-ops. Board members see that the future of electric power in America lies with energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “Public Citizen Texas applauds the board’s openness and commitment to member rights and looks forward to working with directors in the future as they further investigate how to make their visions reality.”

Considering that just last year the co-op was deep in the midst of a scandal involving accusations of misappropriated funds, theft, money laundering, closed meetings and tainted elections, Monday’s meeting marked an incredible turnaround.

PEC held a special meeting Monday to seat newly elected board directors Christi Clement, Patrick Cox and Larry Landacker. During this meeting, the full board held the elections for the positions of president, vice president and secretary for the coming year.

Landacker was nominated for president and elected with six votes in favor and one abstention;  Clements secured the vice presidency with four votes in favor and three abstentions, and Kathy Scanlon was unanimously elected to the position of board secretary.

During his acceptance speech, Landacker announced that the board would begin working immediately on several projects to reform the co-op and move toward becoming a more environmentally friendly, sustainable business. Landacker plans to adopt a co-op members’ Bill of Rights, guarantee open access to meetings, implement a new whistleblower protection policy and create a new and open governance system for the co-op. These laudable measures will ensure that members have the opportunity to participate fully in their co-op and in decisions, and that workers are encouraged to act in the best interests of member-owners.

Landacker also pledged to move forward aggressively with the co-op’s goal, set last November, to purchase or generate 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. As a part of this effort, the co-op plans to create new programs to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy projects among individual members.

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vote-buttonDo you know some electric coops help their members get solar power and make their homes and businesses more energy efficient? It saves a lot on electric bills.

The Pedernales Electric Coop can adapt these kinds of programs… but the direction of the PEC depends on if the newly elected board really cares about clean energy.

Learn what candidates are saying at cleanenergyfortexas.org.

Vote online or by mail by this Friday — or you can vote at the annual members meeting in Johnson City on June 20th.

Listen to the radio spot here.  (paid for by Public Citizen Inc.)

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