We were disappointed to see that Rappahannock Electric Cooperative responded so negatively to our recent attempt to bring some modest transparency and democracy reforms to our electric cooperative. You can read their lawyer’s full response here.
When we asked REC’s board to allow us to gather petition signatures so we could submit proposed bylaw amendments with common-sense reforms to get our co-op to do what some other electric co-ops are already doing, we were met with complete resistance. Not only is REC’s board not in favor of our reforms, it claims absurdly that we somehow don’t even have a right to put them up for a vote by the co-op’s membership.
What are the reforms we propose that REC’s board just can’t abide? Simply (1) to make REC board meetings open for co-op members to observe, which could easily be done with online access, (2) to have REC fully disclose in its magazine how much our co-op is paying each board member each year (with money that comes out of our electric bills), and (3) to make the annual board-election ballot more clear, so that REC members actually know who they’re voting for, and how their ballot will be handled.
For years, we’ve been reading in REC’s Cooperative Living magazine about the benefits of the cooperative form of ownership, where customers actually own their utility and therefore have a say in how it’s governed. Twice in recent years, the magazine even talked about how one such benefit is that co-op members gather at their annual meetings and vote on important matters such as bylaw amendments. (In fact there have been no bylaw amendments on the ballot in REC annual meetings for at least ten years.) The seven Cooperative Principles that REC promotes on its website also include important pillars like “Democratic Member Control” and “Member Economic Participation.”
The REC board’s action in trying to block our modest reform efforts makes us more determined than ever. We ask you to help us spread the word to other REC members. If enough of us get involved and make our voices heard, REC’s board will have to change its views, or else be replaced by new board members who will.
But to make that happen, we need to get many more people signed up for our Repower REC campaign. Please join us as we help spread the word to Repower REC!