Elections for seats on the board of an electric co-op don’t get that much attention. But in Central Texas, members of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) – the largest electric co-op in the country – have reason to exercise their right to vote. They have an important and consequential decision to make, one in which the choice is between candidates who recognize we must embrace a sustainable energy future or the incumbents who will maintain the status quo.
That is why Public Citizen is supporting Kathi Thomas for District 4 and Rachelle Sutherland for District 5 on the board of the Pedernales Electric Co-op, because both candidates are committed to transparency, robust member engagement and renewable energy.
District 4 and 5 members can vote online or by mail now through June 10. PEC will enter those who vote within the first week (through Tuesday, May 24) into a drawing for a $500 credit on their bill. Unfortunately, most PEC members don’t vote in board elections. We’re working to change that, but what it means for now is that your vote can have a significant impact.
Kathi and Rachelle decided to run after the current board members voted unanimously to dramatically increase bills for co-op members with solar by devaluing the energy solar adopters provide to the utility. PEC ignored the many members who spoke against the new rate policy and refused to do even a basic survey to assess member opinions about rooftop solar. Kathi and Rachelle think PEC should make it easier for members to use solar at their homes and businesses.
Embracing solar is just one of the many decisions the co-op board can make that can impact climate change, public health, affordability, and quality of life for its members. Who serves on the board makes a difference. Just a few years ago, PEC had a renewable energy goal and was actively supporting and encouraging members to add solar to and improve energy efficiency at their homes. The board changed, and so have all those great initiatives.
Casting a ballot for Kathi Thomas and Rachelle Sutherland will help get PEC back on track.