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Green Dreams Still Alive Among Pedernales Electric Cooperative Members

Pro-Solar Candidates for PEC Board to Speak at Town Hall Meeting

By Kaiba White

To say the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) has a sordid history is an understatement. Decades of corruption led to a scandal in 2007 followed by a total replacement of leadership in 2008. The co-op’s lack of support for solar energy was the issue that sparked the outcry that lead to the corrupt general manager and board being ousted. The saga was documented by the late Ric Sternberg in his Green Dreams documentary.

In December, the current PEC board voted unanimously to eliminate net metering, which previously allowed solar customers to sell their excess electricity at the same rate they purchase it. The change significantly raised bills for members who use solar energy at their homes. The board did this despite nearly a year of outcry after a previous attempt to saddle solar customers with expensive and confusing rates.

Members sent emails, spoke at board meetings, and did everything they could to express that they want the co-op to support the use of solar energy – or at least not discourage it with unfair rates. Their pleas were ignored.

In response, two pro-solar candidates are now running for the board of directors. Kathi Thomas is running for District 4 and Rachelle Sutherland is running for District 5. Neither has solar on their homes, but they see rooftop solar as an important part of the transition to clean energy and they share a vision for a more innovative, inclusive and transparent PEC.

Kathi Thomas is a small business owner with deep roots in Texas and a strong commitment to serving her community. She has been an active member and critic of PEC for years. Her many years of involvement in local schools, her church and other civic activities has helped her build a keen understanding of how to listen to others and when to stand up for solutions she believes in.

Rachelle Sutherland is a native Texan with a decade of experience in the energy industry, as well education in business and energy. As a mother of two young children, she knows that transitioning to clean energy to curb climate change is essential. She believes that, with proper planning, PEC can encourage and expand the use of renewable energy and other clean energy technologies while keeping bills affordable and improving reliability and resilience.

Kathi Thomas and Rachelle Sutherland will both participate in a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 24 at 6 p.m. PEC members – especially those who reside in Districts 4 or 5 – are encouraged to register and attend. Each candidate will speak, followed by an opportunity for members to ask questions.