Closed doors keep CTEC members in dark

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During last year’s Central Texas
Electric Cooperative (CTEC)
Annual Meeting, a video
shown by the board and CEO reported
the construction of two new service
centers, one in Fredericksburg and
one in Mason.
Only when asked by a member-owner
about construction costs, did CEO
Bob Loth reveal that the total bill
would be $13.2 million. Every member-
owner is personally responsible
for this debt. At that same meeting,
we were informed that our monthly
Distribution Access Charges (DAC)
had been increased from $22.50 to
$27.50.
This DAC has increased more than
60 percent during the past six years.
These are just two recent examples
of far-reaching decisions made by the
board of directors and CEO that affect
the monthly bills of CTEC memberowners
without our input.
Inquiries by a group of concerned
member-owners were posed to the
directors as to why no prior information
about these significant new
charges was made available to us. We
received no logical responses to our
questions.
We discovered that the CTEC
bylaws prohibit member-owners from
attending monthly board meetings.
Essentially, the board holds closeddoor
meetings about CTEC operations
affecting member-owners which we
cannot attend, thus avoiding needed
transparency.
Excerpts of CTEC’s Co-op Principles
on its website state the following:
1. Cooperatives are democratic organizations
controlled by their members
who actively participate in setting
policies and making decisions. The
elected representatives are accountable
to the membership.
2. Members contribute equitably to,
and democratically control, the capital
of their cooperative.
3. Cooperatives are autonomous,
self-help organizations controlled by
their members. If they raise capital
from external sources, they do so on
terms that ensure democratic control
by their members.
We found that these co-op principles
are routinely violated by the board and
management.
Electric co-ops such as CTEC are
financed solely by money paid in by
their member-owners. We elect paid
directors to the board to represent our
interests, keep us informed and direct
the CEO on our behalf. The CEO is a
paid employee.
‘Informed and involved’
Our group of member-owners has
met with the entire CTEC board of
directors, the CEO, all individual
current directors and several past
directors. Over the past nine months,
we have asked our board and the
CEO repeatedly to change our existing
closed to an open board meeting
policy.
We stressed our belief that as members
who collectively own the company
and pay its bills, we should be
kept informed and involved, and the
only practical and transparent way to
achieve this is to:
1. Permit interested members to
attend board meetings to observe and
to address our elected directors.
2. Post the board meeting agenda on
the CTEC web site in a timely manner
prior to meetings.
3. Post complete minutes on the
CTEC web site after each meeting and
include any recorded votes.
At the 2016 Annual Meeting a straw
vote of members present indicated
approximately 50 percent were in
favor of open board meetings. Our
persistent requests for transparency
have been consistently denied. CEO
Loth was given the opportunity to
publicly defend closed meetings in a
local newspaper and the Texas Co-op
Power magazine, but repeatedly failed
to do so.
We have been told by the CEO and
directors who favor closed meetings
that if CTEC had an open board policy,
“uneducated members could influence
decisions of the board.”
On April 18, 2017, the board of directors
passed Policy 15.0, once again
reinforcing their stand prohibiting
member-owners from attending regular
board meetings.
Let’s end the policy of closed-door
board meetings and make our directors
accountable to the members.
CTEC member-owners: Would you
like your company to be accountable
to you? Consider attending the
upcoming CTEC district and annual
meetings to voice your opinions.
Express your support for open board
of director meetings by sending emails
to your 11 CTEC directors and the
CEO via their contact information on
the CTEC web site, www.ctec.coop.
Consider sharing your opinion with
other members through letters to the
editor of your local newspaper.
Let your voices be heard.