Powell Valley Electric to hold annual business meeting

Published 2:52 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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The time is fast approaching for this year’s member/owner meeting, this year to be held on Sept. 21 in Ewing, Va. At Thomas Walker High School. As always, there will be something for everyone with a health fair, children’s activities, lunch, prizes and catching up with old friends.

With all the crowd pleasing activities and business, however, last year’s near record-setting attendance brought out less that 5% of our cooperative’s 30,000-plus members. It’s easy to be un-involved with things we take for granted, or things we believe we haven’t enough voice to be heard. With 95% of the cooperative’s owners not attending annual meetings, is there any way that owners can ever really be heard?

If our cooperative’s meetings were attended at the participation level our national elections (60%), 18,000 people turning out would create its own set of problems. Many turned away last year due to the overwhelming crowd that had gathered that day. To have 12 times the crowd would be chaotic to say the least.

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So, how do we represent ourselves and Powell Valley Electric member-owners with decisions to be made and be able to do so conveniently? Convenience is the key. Many cooperatives, even in our east Tennessee area, do their voting by mail. Mail balloting has several advantages over travel planning and waiting in line.

First, it is cost and time effective for the utility and its owners, us. Second, it results in increased participation among voters. Third, it’s easier for election officials to conduct. Fourth, it allows for a larger cross section of eligible voters to be counted, less risk of a small faction deciding for all. Fifth, it gives voters opportunity to study the ballot and time to research any questions.

Voting would be as simple as receiving a ballot with your electric bill. With its own separate return envelope, you would mark your ballot and drop in the mail to a trusted non-partisan service provider to administer the election process. Then come to the annual meeting, enjoy the festivities and learn the voting resulting of much broader representation of eligible voters.

Please plan to make the short drive to Ewing this Saturday, and vote for the open board meetings amendment. While there, look for a petition that will be circulating to begin the process of making mail in ballots available.

Jeffrey M. Lewis