Oakley, Powers re-elected to PEC board

Lew K. Cohn/Burnet Bulletin
Robert Phillips, left, a PEC member relations regional manager out of the Marble Falls office, presents the United States flag, while Wes Womack, a journey worker from Marble Falls, presents the Texas flag during the PEC annual meeting Saturday, June 22, at Horseshoe Bay Resort.





By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County Judge James Oakley won re-election by a very slim 55-vote margin to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative board of directors at Saturday's annual meeting, held at Horseshoe Bay Resort.

Oakley, seeking his third three-year term as a PEC director for District 5, received 1,565 votes, while Blanco County attorney John A. Watson received 1,510 votes. Lisa Ivie Miller received 1,456 votes and Kenneth Reneau received 286 votes.

Meanwhile, District 4 incumbent director Jim Powers was also re-elected as he defeated two challengers. Powers, who was seeking his second term on the board, received 2,558 votes, while Kathi Thomas received 2,066 vortes. Joe Pool received 1,282 votes.

A total of 10,755 ballots were cast in the election, representing 14.68 percent of the 73,268 eligible voters in District 4 and 5 combined. PEC received 6,287 mail-in ballots and 4,444 web ballot in advance, while just 24 people voted in person at the annual meeting Saturday.

The election was administered by third-party independent firm Survey & Ballot Systems, which has performed election counting for the past three PEC elections.

During the meeting, PEC board president Paul Graf praised the steady growth of the 80-year-old cooperative, which reported 314,855 active accounts as of Jan. 1 while serving 45 franchise cities in parts or all of 24 counties. The cooperative boasts 22,223 miles of line and 6.67 million megawatt hours (mWh) of energy purchased in 2018.

“We started 2018 with just more than 300,000 accounts and grew by more than 14,500 over the year. This marked a 4.9 percent growth rate for the third consecutive year — and we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon,” Graf said. “Additionally, we managed this record growth while keeping your rates competitive, because it is our goal to deliver high-quality service at a great value. We’re proud our members pay less than the average Texan for their power (we also beat nationwide averages), so that we can continue to save you, our members, money each and every day.”

Graf noted 2018 was the first full year with Julie C. Parsley serving as chief executive officer after she joined the cooperative in December 2017. In 2018, PEC had $1.7 billion in total assets and generated $638.5 million in revenue, while seeing a standard residential retail rate of $106.18 per 1,000 kWh — nearly 17 percent below the $127.70 rate experienced in 2014.

“Julie’s deep understanding of Texas regulation, laws, and the Central Texas culture helped set the foundation for her success — and the board couldn’t be more thrilled that she chose PEC,” Graf said. “Julie has already made an incredible impact on the cooperative — from realigning teams and departments to better serve the membership, to creating a culture of safety and improving reliability.”

Graf noted the cooperative had lowered its annual average outage time per account to just 54 minutes in 2018, while the cooperative gave back to its membership by sharing nearly $11.9 million in capital credits in December 2018, raising PEC's lifetime distribution to almost $118 million since 2007. The cooperative earned a AA- rating from Fitch Ratings, which allows the cooperative to strategically leverage its capital to help keep infrastructure reliable and up-to-date.

Going forward, PEC will look to optimize and diversify its power supply and stay ahead of its continued record growth, Graf said. The cooperative received a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to help fund a 2.25 mW battery storage center at the Johnson City headquarters which is expected to go online by the second quarter of 2020. The cooperative is also studying the feasibility of providing broadband services to its members.

Parsley said the Texas Hill Country, of which PEC serves two separate areas, “is very special to all of us who call it home.

“We work here, raise our families here, and grow our communities with our neighbors,” Parsley said. “Our membership is the backbone of our organization, and supporting and doing what is best for our communities is ingrained in everything we do.

“It is this community-focused attitude that helped some of us get through torrential flooding last fall. Our members in Junction and Marble Falls were patient and resilient when their areas were severely affected by flooded lakes and rivers. And our employees raised money, collected supplies, and donated their time to help clean up the parks and riverbeds. These efforts make me so proud of everything our membership and employees put into this cooperative each and every day.”

Parsley said PEC was named No. 10 in the nation for overall customer satisfaction among all electric utilities by J.D. Powers, while National Cooperative Bank also included PEC on its Co-op Top 100 list for the third consecutive year.

“This recognition from within the industry and beyond demonstrates our commitment to being not just the biggest, but the best electric cooperative in the country,” Parsley said. “We are here to serve you and help your communities thrive. Together, we are PEC Strong!”

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