Seth Heald, co-founder of the Repower REC campaign, is running for Rappahannock Electric Co-op (REC) board this summer. Seth will bring an informed, independent voice to REC’s board along with clean-energy, cooperative, and legal expertise. Seth will also be accessible to REC members.
Seth’s bio and more information about his campaign are below. REC Board voting begins in early July 2020 by mail and online with a deadline of August 12th at 5pm. All REC customers are members and can vote; learn more about how to vote here.
Connecting with Seth
You can meet Seth virtually at 6pm on Wednesday starting July 1st through August 12th. Contact Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org to access the info to join.
You can reach out to Seth at Seth4RECBoard@gmail.com
Seth Heald’s Top Campaign Issues
- Seth is pro-consumer. His top priority is affordable, reliable power. He will work to reduce wasteful spending at REC.
- Board Pay. Board members receive $35,000-$48,000 per year to serve part-time on the REC board; Seth believes this is too much; he will accept only 75% of pay until all board pay is reduced.
- REC Transparency & Capital Credits: Seth helped get REC to publish its tax forms and audited financial statements online. Seth is working for increased transparency around the $400 million of members’ money that REC holds for decades as capital credits. Seth and Repower REC successfully urged REC to return capital credits earlier this year.
- REC Governance & Fair Board Elections: A vote for Seth is a vote for fair and democratic board elections. Seth has been advocating for an end to unfair blank proxy votes for years.
- Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency: Seth supports increased access to energy efficiency and rooftop solar energy programs that could save members’ money.
- Broadband: Seth is advocating for REC to bring broadband to members’ homes like many other electric co-ops across Virginia and the US have done.
Seth Heald Bio
Seth Heald retired from the U.S. Justice Department after a 35-year career as a lawyer specializing in complex business litigation, including electric utility litigation. In his last ten years at the Justice Department Seth was in the Senior Executive Service, serving as chief of a trial section. He twice received the Justice Department’s prestigious John Marshall Award, and also received a Presidential Meritorious Award, given to no more than 5 percent of Senior Executive Service members.
Seth has a master of science degree in energy policy and climate from Johns Hopkins University (2017); a law degree (JD) from Georgetown University (1978); and a BA in economics from Haverford College (1975).
Seth is an expert on energy policy and nonprofit governance, and a strong proponent of the cooperative form of business. He belongs to the National Cooperative Business Association and attends the annual Rural Energy Conference sponsored by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
As co-founder of the Repower REC campaign to reform our electric cooperative, Seth is a pro-consumer advocate who has successfully worked to get REC to disclose its board members’ compensation and post its audited financial statements online. He has also pushed REC to disclose board members’ email addresses for co-op members to see and implement energy efficiency programs such as Pay As You Save that can reduce electric bills for co-op members. As a board member he will continue to push for these and other cost-saving and transparency measures. Seth has also advocated for fair policies to help co-op members finance and deploy rooftop solar to reduce their power bills.
Seth serves the community on the Piedmont Environmental Council board, where he co-chairs the governance committee. He also volunteers teaching civics, citizenship, and English at the Culpeper Literacy Council, and has been elected to its board, effective September 1. Seth is a member of the Farm Bureau.
Seth and his wife Caroline live on a small farm in Culpeper County. They have two adult children. REC members can contact him at Seth4RECBoard@gmail.com
Seth on board accessibility and board pay
Seth believes REC board members should be accessible and accountable. You can get in touch with him now by email at Seth4RECBoard@gmail.com or write to him at PO Box 110 Boston, VA 22713. REC board members receive generous compensation. Seth believes they should be knowledgeable about the co-op and available to listen to members’ concerns about the co-op that we jointly own. An engaged and informed board is essential to good governance of an electric co-op. For more on REC board pay issues, see this report from Seth last year.
Speaking of generous compensation, REC’s recent tax returns reveal that its board members are paid between $35,000 to $48,000 per year. The amount for each director varies because board members are paid additional amounts for each REC meeting and event they attend. Seth believes board membership on a nonprofit electric co-op should be seen as a public service, a chance to give back to the community. While some compensation is appropriate, Seth believes the current pay should be reduced by 25 percent. What’s more, if Seth is elected he will accept only 75 percent of board pay until all board pay is reduced. That’s more money available to REC to keep your power costs low.
Seth on REC transparency
Seth co-founded Repower REC in 2018 in part to push the co-op to increase its transparency about financial matters. REC has improved a bit. The co-op now publishes its tax returns and audited financial statements on the co-op’s website. But REC still fails to educate and inform co-op members about the co-op’s capital credit policies and practices. Seth has written about this here and here. This is a crucial issue for co-op members because REC holds some $400 million of its members’ money for decades as capital credits. That’s our money, and it’s supposed to come back to us eventually. A co-op board should be fully informed about the co-op’s capital credit policies and committed to full transparency about them. Yet REC’s board has thus far failed to do this.
Seth on REC governance and fair board elections
Seth and the Repower REC campaign pointed out our co-op’s unfair election practices two years ago, but the co-op has done little to address this issue. Fair board elections are essential to the cooperative form of business. As Seth pointed out last December, REC’s practice of having incumbent board members effectively control board election outcomes through the use of blank proxies is anti-democratic. In fact, a recent National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) report condemned this sort of practice. A vote for Seth sends a message to REC’s board that co-op members want REC to conform with NRECA best governance practices in ensuring fair and democratic board elections.
Seth on clean energy and energy efficiency
The electric utility industry is in the middle of a major energy transition, as the nation moves from older, dirty power-generation sources to clean energy. A key element of clean energy is energy efficiency, which can greatly reduce harmful pollution emissions while also substantially reducing consumers’ power bills. Other electric co-ops across the southeast and the U.S. have implemented ambitious efficiency programs that help their members reduce power bills and pay for the efficiency programs through a portion of the bill savings. Over a year ago, Seth urged REC to follow other co-ops’ lead on this. Seth will be a strong proponent on the REC board for these sorts of cost-reducing measures. REC should be a leader in this area, instead of playing catch-up with its peers.
Another component of clean energy in a cost-effective manner is the deployment of rooftop solar. Efficiency and rooftop and other customer-sited solar can reduce power costs not just for the consumers who install efficiency or solar, but also for all co-op members, because a significant part of REC’s cost of wholesale power is based on overall power demand during peak consumption periods. An Arkansas electric co-op has done this. REC should too.
Seth on rural broadband
Across the U.S. and Virginia, many rural electric cooperatives are bridging the rural divide on broadband by installing high-speed fiber-optic cable to members’ homes. (See list below.)
But at REC’s August 2019 annual meeting, REC president Kent Farmer told co-op members that REC would not be installing internet cable all the way to members’ homes, saying someone else should do that. But that’s not happening, and REC members are falling farther and farther behind members of other rural electric co-ops when it comes to access to affordable high-speed internet. What’s needed, is independent strong board leadership at REC. Seth Heald will bring that to our co-op.
Here’s a sampling of Virginia and other US rural electric co-ops that have brought and are bringing broadband all the way to members’ homes:
- Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) (Virginia)
- BARC Electric Cooperative (Virginia)
- Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (Virginia)
- Roanoke Electric Cooperative (North Carolina)
- NineStar Connect (Indiana)
- Midwest Energy & Communications (Michigan and Ohio)
- Ouachita Electric Cooperative (Arkansas)
- Lake Region Electric Cooperative (Oklahoma)
See these articles about electric co-ops bringing broadband to rural residents in Virginia, Mississippi, and Indiana. And this website tracking rural electric co-op broadband networks and commitments across the US.
How to Vote in REC Board Elections
Full voting information and information on the board candidates will arrive with your July issue of Cooperative Living magazine.
It’s easy to vote online in REC’s board election. There are two ways to vote online:
- You can vote online starting July 1 by visiting REC’s website and logging in to the SmartHub portal. (If you haven’t already set up your password-protected REC SmartHub account you will have to do so before you can vote online.)
- You online through the email link from: REC Election Coordinator (email@example.com) with subject: Your Co-op, Your Voice.
You can name Seth Heald as your proxy, or name the board of directors. If you do designate Seth as your proxy be sure to clearly print his full name, Seth Heald, and spell it correctly. Either way your vote for Seth will be counted as long as you clearly mark the box next to his name, and properly submit the electronic form. Here is a marked example of what the online ballot looks like.
Vote by mail
Voting by mail in REC’s board election is also easy. See an example Mail-In ballot here.
All REC members will receive a paper proxy/ballot in the mail in early July. Don’t throw your proxy ballot away! Just mark the box next to Seth Heald’s name, sign and date, and mail back to REC in the postpaid envelope. Be sure to mail your form well before the August 12 at 5pm deadline for REC to receive it. You can name Seth Heald as your proxy, or name the board of directors. If you do designate Seth as your proxy be sure to clearly print his full name, Seth Heald, and spell it correctly. Either way your vote for Seth will be counted as long as you clearly mark the box next to his name, and sign and date the form. If your account is a joint account, then either one of the members can sign the form. It’s not necessary that both sign. If your name is printed on the proxy/ballot form then you are eligible to sign.
Example of 2020 Ballot. Vote for Seth Heald!