Members of Central Texas Electric Co-op in Board District Three (Mason, McCulloch, Menard, and northern Kimble County) met to chose their candidate for a seat on the Board of Directors, Monday night, June 8, at the Mason High School Cafeteria.
CTEC members were welcomed by the co-op’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert A. Loth, III. Mr. Loth opened the meeting with the introduction of members of the co-op’s Board of Directors present. They were: David D. Smith, Board President, and Charles Pearson from Gillespie County; Michael Randolph, Board Vice-President from San Saba County; Gerald Kaspar, Board Secretary-Treasurer, Stanley Keese and Dub Stewart from Llano County; and Roger Jordan and Jack Asbill from Mason County.
Loth then turned the meeting over to one of Mason County’s representatives on the cooperative’s Credentials & Election Committee, Judge Jerry Bearden. Mr. Bearden introduced other C & E committee members present. They were Jackie Johnson, Ray Jordan, and Fred Kettner. He then gave a brief description of how this committee had met in March to review the applications and petitions submitted for all Board seats up for election this year. For the Mason Board District seat, only one application was submitted, and it was approved by the committee and placed on the ballot for consideration at the district meeting. Since no other applications were received, Mr. Kothmann was selected by acclamation. Kothmann will be the district’s nominee at the co-op’s Annual Meeting in August. Mr. Kothmann will be seeking his first term as Director. The Co-op’s bylaws limit directors to serving four 3-year terms.
Roger Jordan, the current Director whose seat on the Board is up for election, will complete his 4th term in August, and was therefore, ineligible to run again this year. He was presented a plaque of appreciation for his service on the Board by Mr. Smith. Mr. Jordan told the members, “When I was asked to run for the Board 12 years ago, I was humbled that my neighbors entrusted this position to me. All of your Directors always do their best and remember who we represent and try to make the right decisions to keep electricity affordable.”
Board President Smith then introduced a video on the subject of power supply and cost increases that will affect each electric bill payer in the future. The video depicted a “Perfect Storm,” driven by three factors: a shortage of generation; volatility of fuel costs; and carbon emission restriction mandates being considered by congress. In the video, Smith explained that development of new power generation has not kept up with ever-growing demand, mostly due to environmental restrictions. He also noted that many generators were now gas-fired, and when gas rose dramatically a year ago, so did the cost of electricity. The film brought up three important questions about carbon emission restrictions that no one seems to have answers for: how much will carbon restrictions ultimately cost? What exactly are the benefits of carbon restrictions? How will these costs be shared?
Included in the video was an appearance by Glen English, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. He stated that “if certain government mandates on energy policy were approved as considered, it could raise electric bills by up to $50 per month for each electric customer. Noting that we need to address climate change in a way we can all afford, English said the result “is out of the control of the local co-op Directors – it’s in the hands of our Senators and Congressmen to decide out future. With 42 million co-op members nationwide, it’s very important to make out concerns known and make rational, rather than emotional, decisions on our future.”
Mr. Smith, during the video, added that for politicians, the easy answer would be to spread the cost of a carbon tax to all Americans. Smith pointed out three flaws in the implicit assumptions being made by proponents of carbon restrictions. These include the assumption that link between carbon emissions and climate change is real; the assumption that we really can change climate; and the assumption that there will be global support for climate change policy, especially, when 40 percent of carbon emissions come from underdeveloped countries that will not change what they are doing.
CEO Loth pointed out that “a carbon tax will reach much further than your electric bill,” as “every producer that relies on carbon-based fuel will either pass their added cost on to the consumer, or they will stop producing.” The question for CTEC members, according to Loth, is “how much are you willing to pay to support carbon restrictions, given the shaky assumptions that support the project?” Loth urged co-op members to tell their elected officials their concerns before carbon restrictions become law.
Mr. Smith then gave the members a brief update on the status of power supply contracts that Central Texas Electric Co-op has with its power supplier, the Lower Colorado River Authority. He reported that efforts to restructure the LCRA contract have come up short, and it appears that the parties have irreconcilable differences. CTEC has asked for an early release from the current contract that runs to 2016. Options being reviewed are purchased power agreements with new power suppliers, and in the future, possible ownership of generation assets with other partnering utilities. Either way, Smith said, “working together, we expect to weather the storm and keep the lights on at prices our members can afford to pay.”
The meeting closed with a question and answer session, and a drawing for door prizes. The Co-op’s Annual Meeting this year is scheduled for August 18, 2009, and will be held in Fredericksburg, Texas.