Your Cooperative’s Governance
Your Cooperative is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees elected by the membership. The board exercises all of the powers of the Cooperative except those that are by law or the Cooperative’s By-Laws conferred upon or reserved to the members or otherwise delegated.
Members join the Cooperative to receive electric service at their home or business. In return, Members agree to timely pay for that service after an invoice is delivered to them. The Cooperative’s policies also explain that Cooperative employees should have access to the Cooperatives equipment and facilities located on the Members property.
Members of the Cooperative wear two hats: they are the Cooperative’s customers and its owners. As an owner, each Member has a vote at the Annual Membership meeting. The owners elect the Board of Trustees and approve the By-Laws. The Board Members are elected to serve as the governing body that hires an executive officer who in turn hires employees and manages the operations of the organization.
State law and Cooperative By-Laws provide an annual opportunity for members to meet to address relevant business needs of the Cooperative. The details of the Annual Membership meeting, typically held in April, are provided in a notice that is sent to all members prior to the meeting.
The election of Trustees is also held at the Annual Membership meeting. A nominating committee, made up of Cooperative members who are not current Trustees, meets in advance to make nominations for candidates.
A Credentials and Elections Committee, made up of Cooperative members who are not current Trustees, is assigned to assess the qualifications of board candidates and to organize the election. The committee traditionally assigns the management of the election to the County Election Commission to ensure a well-run election and to avoid any conflicts of interest. Campaigning by candidates or their surrogates is not allowed within 60 feet of the voting booths or at any time to Members who are standing in line.
The qualifications required to serve on the Board of Trustees are contained in the Cooperatives By-Laws, Article 4, Section 4.02.
Once elected, each Board Members term of service is 3 (three) years. The terms are staggered so that elections for approximately one third of board seats are held each year.
Board Members are not Cooperative employees and do not receive a salary. However, they are rightly compensated for their time and reimbursed for their expenses in service to the Cooperative. They receive a per diem (Latin for “per day”) payment for attending meetings, continuing education programs, and other such duties. The per diem for Newberry Electric Cooperative’s Board Members is $450.00.
Extensive training is required to enable Trustees to perform their duties. The electric utility industry is complex and expensive and is the world’s most capital-intensive business. The elected Board Members who serve the Cooperatives Membership hire an experienced executive to lead the Cooperative, and that executive hires employees who are specialists in their field. Employee training is imperative and also expensive; for example, it costs almost $500,000.00 to complete the training of a journeyman lineman, the senior line worker under a crew foreman. It also takes a qualified leadership team to oversee and manage this level of professional and technical expertise. To meet these requirements, the Cooperative purchases educational courses and compensates Trustees to attend many days of training on such topics as the organization’s management, accounting, financing, construction, and maintenance work.
The Board of Trustees typically meets on the last Monday of every month. Agendas are normally available approximately one week prior to the meeting. Board Meeting minutes are posted approximately one week after the meeting.
The Cooperative is a private business; therefore, board meetings are not open to the general public. Cooperative Members, however, may request to attend a board meeting to address the Board of Trustees. The request must be submitted in writing or by electronic request to the Board Chairman at least 7 (seven) days prior to the meeting at which they wish to appear. Only members to whom an invitation to appear before the Board of Trustees has been extended may appear before the Board.