1/16/19 LPEA BOD Meeting
Please note, the reason for this commentary each month is to allow members to be aware of comments and happenings that are not completely documented in the professionally done minutes. Agenda items that are not covered on this posting should be adequately covered on the professionally done meeting minutes.
You should also understand there were two executive sessions called during the regular meeting which realty impacted the coverage and completion of the agenda of this meeting. The first one in the morning lasted approx. 20 minutes, but the one in the afternoon went for more than 2 1/2 hours and prevented coverage of the agenda that took place after the session was over. Due to this extended executive session, some of the agenda items were likely either discussed briefly or postponed to a future meeting…
Dan Hunt stated that Tri-State C.E.O. Mike McInnis, commented @ December’s meeting “he did not want to see more renewables while he was CEO of TS” (This comment was a mischaracterization of Mr. McInnis’ statements) He also said he was really confused after listening to comments from the rest of the TS attendees who spoke at the meeting, particularly regarding the decreased cost of solar and wind to members.
Susan Atkinson made an emotional plea for the absolute importance of continuing to go forward with the switch to renewable energy sources for co-op distributed energy.
Naomi Dobbs, newly appointed member to the Round-Up Board stated she was appreciative of the appointment and there at the meeting to thank the LPEA BOD.
“Kirby” spoke in the importance of transparency of money coming into LPEA candidate’s campaigns. Also is supportive of and thankful for the “power supply committee” and the work it does.
Werner Heber thanked the LPEA BOD for his previous opportunity to serve on the Round-Up Board. He also “supports the power supply committee” and wants it given “as much money as is needed for them to do the committee’s work” He stated he, personally, questioned why Mr. Montoya and conservative members of this BOD did not support the PSC. He stated “DMEA is a conservative co-op “and their BOD is supportive of the withdrawal from TS” (without understanding the full scope of the facts surrounding the DMEA’s position and case before the Colorado PUC, it is very easy for people to get confused- Werner is obviously one of these people)
Heath Rowe stated information he received from his cousin in Taos (KIT Carson…. Co-op that withdrew from TS) indicates the rates the customers are paying for electricity are “NOT STABLE AND HAVE BEEN GOING UP SINCE THE WITHDRAWAL”. He questioned- why this information is different than the information he has been given here? He stated “cousin’s rate is $.16-.17 per kWh”.
Sarah Farrell believes Tri-State has “a very good credit rating so there should be no real concern that is in danger of bankruptcy”. She then passed out a copy of 2 bylaw changes she and other members of the co-op feel need to be instituted. Each member of the BOD received a copy of the proposed changes, see below:
- The LPEA BOD shall not pass any motion for an expenditure found to be in excess of $50 million without an affirmative vote from a majority of the membership.
- The LPEA BOD shall have a duty to disclose all contributions and expenditures to outside organizations and individuals; including, but not limited to: charitable spending, expenditures of the BOD, and contributions to non-profit organizations. The LPEA shall display these costs to the Members via a dedicated webpage on the LPEA website, which will include a running monthly total, and a year-to date total of these excess costs.
Sarah stated she had spoken with Pam Patton (former member of LPEA BOD and current LPEA Co-operative member) about these requested changes and she felt they were “valid to improve transparency”. However Ms. Patton did not feel it was appropriate for a former director to engage in an activity that would be changing the current by-laws.
Betsy Romere stated she supported the need for increased transparency by archiving of the monthly LPEA BOD meeting and the Committee of the Whole meetings so all members can see what goes on at the meetings, even if they are unable to live stream or attend the meetings. She further stated she was very happy to see the willingness to bring in change even though it may appear to be slow in being implemented.
Consent Board Items
Mr. Unger and Mr. Dreyspring pointed out that meeting minutes should not include discussion, but rather should only reflect actions taken by the BOD. His reasoning behind this was “discussion is subject to misinterpretation” and it is easy to “put a political slant on the discussion” Mr. Dreyspring believes archiving of the meetings will allow members to “interpret for themselves” when they actually view the meeting from the archived recording and thus removes the possible bias of a reported discussion. (for months now we have been hoping for an archive of the streamed board meetings- will this ever happen?)
Items Requiring Board Action
Policy 127 Director Elections and Annual Meeting Voting Procedures – ESC Recommended Changes and Renumbered as Policy 105.
There was detailed discussion and clarification of proposed changes. Concern was expressed by Mr. Wheeler that the proposed change in the “automatic recount trigger” from 1% to 1/2 % could pose a problem for candidates in a very low vote count election.
Policy 107 Campaign Finance
Mr. Unger wants to remove need to report campaign finance expenditures. Mr. Bassett and Mr. Wheeler agree with Mr. Unger. Mr. Montoya supports the requirement and feels this should have been finalized months ago. Ms. Landis feels there is a lot of work to be done, the work needs to be done carefully, and that may mean we need more time than we have to make it applicable to this year’s election. Mr. Lyon feels it is not a problem to keep track of money coming in and money going out, it is easy to do, and it needs to be done. Ms. Skeehan and Mr. Turner feel what has been done is well thought out.
Mr. Lyon insisting transparency is important and it is easy to keep track of the money. Straw poll taken- “who is in favor of removing expenditure from the policy?” Vote- 6 to 6 tie. More discussion and the question was asked, “who wants to keep it there?” Straw poll vote this time was 6 to 5 as Ms. Landis did not vote, stating she is now unsure and therefore will not vote. More discussion ensued.
Mr. Unger feels should not have to report donations $100 or less. That triggered another round of vigorous discussion. Mr. Alley stated he had been told by his constituents in Pagosa Springs that people do not want to run for the LPEA BOD because “San Juan Citizen’s Alliance” (SJCA) literally buys elections for people who “will vote a certain way.”
Mr. Montoya clarifying that he feels there needs to be a policy that more properly addresses the concerns which co-op members have repeatedly expressed on these topics. Ms. Skeehan wants to go back to having to report any donation of more $20 instead of the previously discussed more than $100. Much more very confusing discussion took place.
Suggest members check the formal minutes to sort this all out after they are approved at the February meeting.
Items for Board Review and Possible Action
DMEA PUC Complaint and Consideration of Amicus Filing from LPEA
At approximately 2:30 PM a discussion of this topic was started and LPEA Attorney was presiding. There were 2 representatives from DMEA in the room. There are two phone participants who are not DMEA representatives: “Carl” an attorney from California, engaged because the LPEA Attorney states she has a conflict of interest for the purpose of this discussion due to a working relationship with another Tri-State Co-op member (Empire Electric) and will have to allow “Carl” to represent LPEA. The other person on the call was not clearly identified nor was their interest in this conversation.
It was made clear the DMEA representatives requested that the actual discussion take place in an executive session and Ms. SKeehan, LPEA’s Tri-State Representative was required to leave the discussion. The Executive session began @ approximately 3:00 PM and was still in progress at 5:15 PM.
The final outcome was the LPEA BOD chose to intervene in the case on behalf of DMEA. (This action demonstrates overreach by the current Board. The LPEA literally does not have a dog in this fight. If the PUC rules in favor of DMEA the remaining members of TS will be forced to foot the bill of DMEA prematurely exiting their own contract. And guess what that means- higher rates for LPEA members)
12/10/18 LPEA COTW Meeting
The Committee of the Whole meeting was primarily devoted to talking with Tri-State G/T and there was a tremendous amount of discussion between the LPEA BOD, LPEA staff, and the 4 representatives of Tri-State G/T who were in attendance. The Tri-State representatives were the CEO of Tri-State, The CFO of Tri-State, the Tri-State Attorney, and another upper management gentleman named ”Brad” whose actual title is not clear to me.
All participated in the discussion which started off with a presentation by the CFO and was related to the financial status of Tri-State. Facts of note were that Tri-State has approx. 5 billion dollars in assets and current debt is approx. 3.5 billion dollars. It was further stated that most of the borrowing they do is short term and they also “borrow from stock market funds”.
After the short presentation, the floor was opened for questions from LPEA BOD and staff. The question arose as to the exact formula used to calculate the amount a co-op member is required to pay when leaving the T/S co-op….
It was stated “there is no exact formula and the formula would probably vary depending on the co-op and the individual circumstances”. Much discussion ensued, but no real clarification was ever established.
In further questioning and discussion the CEO of Tri-State revealed the T/S strategic planning meeting in January, 2019 would include a discussion of Tri-State considering establishing different classes of membership with the intent of “making Tri-State more flexible and able to more completely meet members’ needs”. Much more questioning and discussion took place after that revelation.
In response to questioning from D. Huntington and G. Unger, the T/S CEO made the point that “people often come to Tri-State wanting the G/T co-operative to add on power sources (mostly renewables) and in the next breath, insist that T/S must also retain and keep at the ready to be used immediately upon demand” the amount of energy needed to meet the needs of members at any time of the night or day in any situation.
He stated “T/S cannot take on all of the new things and hang on to all the old things to be used on demand because the cost is prohibitively expensive” He further used the following analogy: A power plant is like a boat… You put it up in the fall in perfect working condition and when you take it out in the spring, it is no longer in perfect working condition.
Shay Deming, LPEA attorney, then took to the floor for a discussion of the 2 “go shopping letters” LPEA has received from Tri-State G/T. (This is apparently, a letter Tri-State sends out to any member co-op after it notifies T/S it is exploring “other options” for providing power to their customers.)
The first letter LPEA received in response to their notification of T/S was the “old standard letter” and the 2nd letter was the newer one developed after Kit Carson went through the withdrawal process and discovered the original letter did not provide the information a 3rd party power supplier felt they needed from T/S to begin talks with a T/S member co-op.
Shay feels after talking with other industry experts, the 2nd letter is better, but needs a minimal change the board needs to discuss. T. Wheeler questioned if this letter “was perhaps, a prevention of T/S being able to sue LPEA?” T/S attorney, commenting on the question, feels “member co-op really does not need the letter, nor does the 3rd party supplier, but it just makes all parties more comfortable with the conversation.”
The deadline given in the letter is 12 months, which the T/S attorney states is the longest time ever given a member co-op to make a decision. The question was posed why it was necessary to put a deadline date on the letter? T/S attorney said it “was a bookkeeping issue” and it also “affects T/S’s ability to borrow money” so lenders need to know which member co-op’s are still shopping and thinking of leaving T/S. Much discussion ensued about need for the co-op to be thorough in its investigation of options and the concern 12 mo. might not allow enough time for that.
The T/S attorney further tried to explain why they were not willing to make the letter date longer. Shay commented she is very concerned the 12 mo. is not enough time for thoroughness, without undue pressure to meet a deadline. T/S attorney feels “another discussion could be had at the end of a year and “an adjustment could be made if more time was needed”.
Seeing no more questions or discussion needed @ that time, the meeting with T/S was ended and the T/S visitors left the meeting.
In all fairness, there was a question and answer period for LPEA members in attendance to ask questions of or make comments to either the LPEA BOD or the T/S representatives during the discussion.
December 12th 2018 LPEA Regular BOD Meeting
Gail Harris spoke in support of “4-Core” and why she felt LPEA must continue to fund the organization. She has roof top solar on both her home and her business because she is concerned about “carbon emissions”. She wants LPEA to encourage the use of more solar to decrease pollution, improve health, and decrease carbon emissions. Speaking on Tri-State, she believes “T/S charges way too much and should make better choices of energy sources.”
Sarah M. has solar on her house because “it is the right thing to do”.
Susan McWilliams speaking to the discussion which took place at the 12/10/18 Committee of the Whole meeting on how T/S pays down their debt, asked how LPEA pays down their debt? Dennis Svanes, LPEA CFO, answered her question and she pointed out that she felt the answer he gave was exactly the same answer T/S had given to a similar question and had been loudly and unfairly criticized for, by some of the LPEA BOD.
Jackie Ellis spoke to the LPEA BOD about her concern for (man-made) “climate change”.
Robert Campbell, asks about “how we (LPEA) got into Tri-State contract”? CEO, Dreyspring, answering for LPEA. Mr. Campbell is upset LPEA got into a contract with T/S “to support the development of a new coal fired power plant”. He is also upset with the “high rates” and particularly the “new increase” projected for TOU customers. Mr. Dreyspring explained the increase for TOU was replacing a subsidy which T/S used to give to LPEA for TOU customers that they are no longer providing. The increase is simply a pass-through to the TOU customers to recover the money T/S used to credit, but no longer does.
Sarah Ferrell asked for guidance on how LPEA members could amend the LPEA Bylaws. Attorney Deming will respond after researching the By-laws. Ms Ferrell was referred to Article XV : Amendments; in the LPEA Bylaws.
Heath Rowe speaking on his belief in the value of “roof top solar”. He supports solar as long as those members who choose to have it PAY THEIR OWN EXPENSES. It is the subsidy they are given he objects to, not the solar. He believes “the poor should not be required to subsidize the rich” (reverse Robin Hood effect) Bob Lynch answered his comments by saying the topic will be discussed today as is on the meeting agenda.
Fiber in Pagosa Springs- Mr. Dreyspring updating on previously discussed issue of getting fiber to LPEA Pagosa Springs office and the hospital. He has uncovered some obstacles in getting fiber to some areas, particularly the hospital. There are still entities in Pagosa who COULD deliver fiber to areas that need it in Pagosa, but refuse to do so, for some reason. T. Wheeler asked why LPEA couldn’t just utilize its own fiber for its own needs. “To do that, would cost approx. $100,000 and there are concerns of lawsuits from other providers in the area if LPEA should do that. “
Peter Bodin of Korn /Ferring (CEO research firm from NYC, NY) Is here and meeting and talking with staff, BOD, and members. Hope is to complete search by late March and announce replacement in April 2019.
Items for BOD Review and Possible Action.
Discussion of Petition on TOU Change
Heath Rowe presented a petition with 482 member signatures in opposition to the projected TOU rate increase to be instituted 01/01/19, in the light of the subsidy which solar customers receive from other LPEA members.
Much discussion ensued. T. Wheeler refuting the thought LPEA members are “subsidizing” net-metering. He actually believes the solar users are “subsidizing” the rest of the LPEA members by eliminating “significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere since the solar users use energy generated by solar which does not produce carbon”.
POINT OF ORDER: President Lynch “called the question” to halt the “solar subsidy” debate as the discussion on the floor is about the proposed TOU increase to be initiated in Jan. 2019. R. Landis sees TOU increase as really a “pass-through” necessitated by the fact T/S has withdrawn their subsidy to LPEA for TOU customers and the loss of that subsidy has to be mitigated by the customers who previously received it.
- Montoya made a motion to rescind 3 items:
- a) $22,000 dollars (from voluntary green fund contributions) in the budget
- b) 4-Core reserve of $50,000 in the budget
- c) Rate increase for TOU
UNTIL the net metering issue is resolved.
- Lyon suggests we need to kill this motion, increase TOU rates to get the cost recovery, and move on to get the net metering issue resolved because the concerns are valid.
- Montoya wants to change the motion by eliminating net metering and vote on the other issues.
- Lyon “called the question”. Vote taken, both the amended motion and the original motion were defeated .
Items Requiring Board Action
Publishing the (2007) T/S Contract on the LPEA Web Site.
- Unger questioning why BOD has to vote if M. Dreyspring wants to do it? LPEA Attorney stated the BOD must vote on the motion to publish. Motion amended with phrase “publish only if publication of the contract does not violate any NDA or create any liability. Motion as amended passed unanimously.
11/12/18 Committee of the Whole Meeting
Mike Dreyspring initiated discussion on “Q.F. (Qualified Facility) Risks and Rewards “
“There are regulatory ruling uncertainties when it comes to consequences of member co-ops purchasing power from a Q F. “ Tri-State, on appeal , was prohibited by F.E.R.C. (Federal Electric Regulatory Commission) from seeking recovery of any of its cost from D.M.E.A. (Delta Montrose Electric Association) due to loss of load from DMEA’ s purchasing electricity from a Q.F. ( DMEA, FERC ruling) This was an interesting discussion on risks, but very hard to understand unless you are well versed in the electrical co-op industry lingo.
LPEA Attorney voiced concern with “public, in-depth discussion of any specifics on this topic” and recommended that the discussion needed to be held for “executive session”.
Mr. Lyon asked how LPEA “guarantees reliable energy that is available to members on demand when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind is not blowing, regardless of the demand? Several BOD members suggested the need could be met through “storage and natural gas”.
Ms Skeehan admitted there “could be challenges”, but stated “we must be prepared and investigate all of our options”. Mr Lyon agreed with need to be prepared, but stated “we also must be realistic in our preparation and there is cost in providing energy when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine”
Mr. Bassett feels we must be prepared, but also believes “with the availability of natural gas plants in the area, we would be able to meet needs under adverse conditions”. Mr. Lyon further stated “economics must be considered even though there are no guarantees of cost at this point”
Ms Skeehan “likes local and small “ entities as she feels they are “more secure” . She feels longer distance from the electrical source, the more opportunity for interruption of electrical service. Mr. Lynch stated ”there is a way to ensure yourself against loss of power risk”, but did not further elaborate.
Review of Poudre Valley REA Letter to Tri-State. (Response to Tri-State’s “standing pat” on their plan and 5% rule in spite of member co-op’s request for change) Much discussion on the advisability of writing a resolution of our own or supporting PVEA’s letter. Gist of the discussion was Tri-State is well aware of where LPEA stands due to previous communication.
Ms Skeehan stated “perhaps LPEA should be more activist or pushy”. Mr. Bassett pointed out, “This BOD, through the power supply committee, is taking an activist role”. Mr. Turner agrees, “We are not just sitting back…We have our own thing going on…We are going to have solid strategies that are well thought out…We are doing our homework”. Mr. McInnis stated “the power supply committee is going to meet with PVEA and we should wait on making any decisions until after that meeting .
CEO Attributes & Search Options (Mr. Lynch leading the discussion)
Companies to assist in the search for a new CEO have been narrowed to two. Decision will be made 11/14/18 meeting after the pros and cons of each company have been discussed. One company’s bid is $30,000 more than the other company. Mr. Unger states he feels “we should not let cost be the deciding factor as this is too important of a decision”. Human resources director described her impression of the methods used by each of the companies. At Mr Turner’s request, she agreed to give her recommendation @ the Wednesday BOD meeting.
Late in the Committee of the Whole meeting, topic of $50,000 request from 4-Core for funding in 20019 came to light. Apparently, “Lori” from 4-Core had recently made a presentation to some of the BOD, requesting LPEA give the 4-Core organization $50,000 to operate in 2019. Several BOD members spoke in support of the request, since LPEA was one of the original founders of 4-Core. Seems both of the other founders (the city of Durango & La Plata County BOCC) declined to provide funding in 2019 due to budget constraints.
Mr. Dreyspring spoke up and stated he had been working on the 2019 budget and after very careful consideration, “due to the very narrow operating margins in the budget, he could not fund the request”. He further stated he had already made other cuts in the budget before the request had been received. It was obvious from the ensuing comments from some of the BOD, that his decision was not supported by all members of the BOD.
11/14/18 LPEA BOD Meeting
Susan Atkinson thanked LPEA for their support of the recent multi- day symposium @ Fort Lewis College. Subject of symposium was (man-made) “Climate Change”. Over 800 attendees took part in the various offerings
Phillip Rife concerned about “rumors that indicate LPEA is planning to raise rates for solar users”. He spoke out against this “rumored increase”. Bob Lynch, speaking for LPEA, again denied there are any plans to increase rates for solar customers in 2019. He also stated that “Regular Time of Use “(TOU) will have a small rate increase as of January 1, 2019. He further stated LPEA will be lowering rates for “street lighting” as of that date.
Another man, who failed to identify himself, spoke out very assertively on why all LPEA customers should have to support solar use through their rates as “it is the co-op model and the right thing to do for the environment”.
Karen Pontious asked, “Why is new solar instillation being denied?” Ron Meier, speaking for LPEA, stated that the denials are, in the simplest of terms, because of “physics”. He went on to explain that it was not an “easy fix”, but LPEA was studying the problems and looking for solutions to those problems so new instillations would not have to be denied.
Dan Hunt spoke out on what he felt was very poor communication between LPEA and the people who want solar.
Another member, who also failed to give his name, asked that a “copy of the LPEA / Tri-State contract be put on line so anyone who wants a copy of it could get one by printing it off the LPEA web page”. Mr. Dreyspring and the LPEA attorney agreed to look into the legalities of doing that and posting the document as requested as long as it was legal to do so.
Another member expressed concern about LPEA BOD member candidates accepting “outside” money to get themselves’ elected. Mr. Dreyspring, answering the concern, indicated LPEA had been made aware of the concern, the policy was under review, and would be updated.
Mike Dreyspring spoke on the need for “expanded fiber” services, specifically to the LPEA office in Pagosa Springs, but also to the surrounding business area. He has become aware of this need and the fact that there are “fiber owners” in Pagosa Springs with the capability of selling fiber services to others in the area, but refuse to do so. Because of this discovery, he feels the need to get into the development, himself. Mr. Lyon asked for specifics on the development: cost, capacity ,building for the future? Mr. Wheeler, LPEA “Fastract” representative , Pointed out there is “a process going on now for Fastract & Century Link to combine to provide fiber connection between Durango & Pagosa Springs.
Another segment of the CEO report dealt with the “narrow operating margins” projected for the 2019 budget. Mr. Unger and Mr. Lynch both asked ”Why, if operating margins are so good this year, are we expecting less nest year” The answer was revenue is projected to be significantly less and thus a “leaner year is projected. Ms Landis and Mr. McInnis asked for specific comparison to past for definition of “leaner year”. Mr. Wheeler wanted to know ”Who has input on the budget and how decisions are made” Much discussion ensued.
1100-1130 Western United, CEO Mike Prom
Mission statement of Western Electric : “To be the distributor of choice for all electric utilities in the Rocky Mountain Region “. Members are our priority! The organization was formed to reduce cost of materials to member co-ops. The organization has grown over the years to a point that they are looking to expand services into other areas. They are currently doing that in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.
Items Requiring Board Action:
Resolution 2018-112019 “Tariff Modification” Regular TOU rates will increase slightly to replace a Tri-State savings related to TOU that is no longer available. (Reality is that the TOU savings to individual will be reduced by approximately by 2.5 %) The street lighting rate will be decreased due to the reduced cost of LED street lights.
Review of 2019 Operating Budget: (conducted by Rachel- CFO’s assistant) Very long and heated discussion about budgeting process. Mr. Wheeler and others asking if there is room for a change during the budget year, if projections were incorrect and we find we have more money than projected? The answer to the question was “yes”
Much more heated discussion took place with some hammering Rachel on projected margins and voicing distrust of figures given in report.
Mr. Lyon, after listening to all the negativity expressed, commented on the monthly financial reports that are given at each of the regular board meetings. He feels the reports are “very accurate, reliable, and mistrust is unfounded”. Mr. Montoya commented that in the past, “financial classes” for board members has cleared up mistrust, misunderstanding, and restored confidence and understanding to the board.
Mr. Wheeler insisting 4-Core’s $50,000 funding request be put on the 2019 budget for further consideration. Mr. Montoya made statement of point of order that the 4-Core consideration was not previously noticed and therefore inappropriate for discussion here. LPEA attorney ruling it was properly noticed under another heading…
Mr. Wheeler persisted that the $50k must be held on reserve in the operating budget to be used for 4-Core funding. Mr. Bassett seconded the motion.
More discussion ensued. Mr. Alley questioned “What will become of special projects?” Mr. Lyon pointing out that unclaimed capital credits is usually where funding for 4-Core is provided, not the operating budget. Mr. McInnis weighing in with his concerns. Mr. Unger states he feels this is only RESERVING the money, not paying it.
More conversation and great concern being expressed that spending $50,000 after making a total of $1,000,000 worth of cuts from the original budget to improve the operating margins makes no sense in the light of having no reserves for unseen emergencies such as the 416 fire we had this year. Vote was taken and the operating budget with the $50,000 reserve amendment passed on a vote 7 to 5.
Mr. Unger now making a motion that an additional $25, 000 be “reserved” for possible need of the Power supply Committee” for hiring a consultant. This means the 2019 operating budget margins will be reduced by both the 4-Core & power supply committee amounts-$75,000. Vote taken, passed 6 to 4 with Ms Skeehan abstaining.
Resolution 2019 Round-up Foundation appointees: Naomi Dobbs District #2 & Kira Kropp District #3.
CEO Search Resource: Vote taken and Korn /Ferry Firm out of NY. Bid for service is $30,000 more than other bid from the Colorado company that had also bid, but it was felt the NY firm had more to offer and they would try to get the fee reduced as much as possible through negotiations.
This monthly meeting was very long, involved, and in some places, very contentious. For complete, professionally compiled minutes on the meeting agenda, check the LPEA web page after the December meeting where they will be approved. The information presented here is- for the most part- never going to appear in the professionally written minutes.
Those who follow LPEA will be familiar with these two meetings, but those who do not may only be aware of the monthly board meeting, usually on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The “Committee of the Whole” meeting is not a regularly scheduled meeting as it is only scheduled on the Monday before the BOD meeting when there is a need to provide more discussion time or information gathering time than the Wednesday meeting’s agenda will accommodate.
NO decision making votes are taken at this meeting, but are held till the BOD meeting after the discussion and information gathering is completed and the entire BOD is more likely there to participate. The agenda for the COW meeting is posted as part of the agenda for regular monthly meeting agenda under its own Roman numeral heading.
This meeting is usually a great opportunity to go to “listen and learn”……… and this one was a prime example of that! There were 4 topics listed for discussion on the agenda, but items B (Tri-State Policy 118 concept update) & C (Residential Rate Analysis Review) were the most interesting. The B agenda item was a discussion presented by Mr. Harms of a dialog taking place at the “staff level” with Tri-State staff on a possible proposal for Tri-State which would enable LPEA to increase its solar energy allotment without compromising the Policy 115 constraints.
It was impressive that efforts were actually under way to attempt to WORK WITH Tri-State to arrive at a mutually agreeable & beneficial solution to this always controversial problem. However, any comfort or security from this excellent presentation was soon dashed by comments made by Mr. Unger & Mr. Bassett.
Both of these board members made it perfectly clear they felt the efforts of LPEA staff in trying to WORK WITH Tri-State staff were neither necessary, nor cost effective use of staff time due to the “possible actions taken by the LPEA BOD in the future”. WOW…NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE ARE TOLD THAT THE NEWLY FORMED, HIGHLY ACTIVE POWER SUPPLY COMMITTEE IS ONLY INVESTIGATING LPEA’S OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE AND “NOT ONLY LOOKING AT WITHDRAWING FROM TRI-STATE” -THEIR COMMENTS FURTHER RAISE QUESTIONS AS TO THE VERACITY OF THESE STATEMENTS!!
Our co-op’s situation and its members fate continues to be cause for great concern. It is also note-worthy that comments similar to those were also expressed at the Wednesday meeting when this topic came up for discussion as part of that agenda, later in the day!
The other topic of particular interest was item C- Residential Rate Analysis Review. Also a presentation by Mr. Harms, it was a look at where we are financially with regards to future revenues generated from power sales to customers and our costs to be able to supply the power to our customers. As always with Mr. Harms presentations, it was well researched, understandably presented, and a very thorough look into the future.
On to the Wednesday meeting! WOW
The meeting room was full of concerned members who obviously were there to give their input to the board and express their concerns. Many of them spoke passionately about their support for solar energy, their cost to put it in, the feeling of need to mitigate (man-made) climate change, and their fears of loss of incentives for (and returns on) the great monetary investments in their systems.
In the time allotted to hear public comments (a little more than an hour) it was learned that this group apparently was responding to information they had received from “Solar Barn Raising” who had lead them to believe LPEA was going to take away incentives and returns on their solar investments.
They stated they were there out of concern their base rate was going to be greatly increased. Both staff and the BOD absolutely denied any move to increase the base rate for solar users and indicated this was total misinformation.
Mr. Montoya, after the public comment period, spoke to some of the public comments which alleged “LPEA was not living up to promises made”. He pointed out there are “never any promises or guarantees made by LPEA“. In his experience- “installers sometimes make statements which could be misconstrued/misinterpreted as a guarantee by LPEA”.
There were other topics brought up during the public comment period. It was noted that this meeting was the first LPEA BOD meeting to be live streamed and it was felt this was a great first step in meeting transparency and allowing the members to “see for themselves”.…….. something that has been requested by the membership for an extended period of time.
It was also pointed out that it was hoped the eventual goal should be the availability, of a link that would enable the public to view, in its entirety, a recording of any monthly board meeting. It was also noted that a recording of the Committee of the Whole meetings would also be valuable to the membership for purposes of learning, understanding of issues, seeing how the board functions, and helping the membership become informed voters at election time.
One member also spoke out of concern the BOD’s voted to edit the August minutes at the September meeting. This member felt this action was not appropriate for a BOD who was supportive of being transparent to the membership. Following up on this expressed concern, another member asked if this “edited material” was going to be available to the public. The answer- “it is going to be available in a FULL TRANSCRIPT AND POSTED ON THE WEB, but it is not there yet”.
The rest of the Wednesday meeting and the COTW meeting on Monday should be well documented in the professionally taken minutes, then eventually, after approval by the BOD during November’s meeting, retrievable on the LPEA web page. Please understand, the best way to be educated and informed is to attend these meetings in person and get your information FIRST HAND!