The SREC meeting
As one of the 11,000 member–owners of Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative, this past month I took the opportunity to attend my electric cooperative’s annual meeting. The night’s event was overseen by co-op employees busy at work welcoming and registering members and guests, serving a delicious meal, waiting on tables and manning informational booths.
Almost entirely absent from participating in this year’s annual meeting was the CEO of SREC. During the program and business meeting, he remained seated in the auditorium with the members, only taking the stage once to honor a retiring employee.
As a highly compensated employee, I was surprised to see the CEO hand over his duties and involvement in the annual meeting to a retired radio announcer. Fortunately, others pitched in to run the meeting. At times it seemed like musical chairs amongst the retired radio announcer, co-op directors and the co-op’s lawyer going to and from their seats to the podium on stage as they added their contributions to the meeting.
Was it because of this lack of continuity at the podium that the question-and-answer Session got missed from the scheduled program or was the omission intentional? Either way, it might not have mattered as the CEO probably would not have been on stage to respond to the questions.
Even the WECA statewide newsletter was at a loss when reporting on SREC’s annual meeting. The newsletter stated that there was a break from tradition with “a guest master of ceremonies” and “a revamp meeting format that included comedic entertainment.” The only mention of the CEO was presenting the employee retirement award. In covering other co-op annual meetings from around the state, managers were reported as taking the opportunity to inform members about prior year’s accomplishments and future concerns. One general manager even addressed the membership while holding his 6-month-old grandson to demonstrate how the co-op is making decisions that will affect members well into the future.
Instead, what members of SREC heard was a ventriloquist and his puppets. Mind you, I’m not against having fun at an annual meeting, and the ventriloquist was good entertainment, but annual meetings do have a purpose and that is to report to the shareholders of previous and future activities. Even the CEO’s written report that was mailed out to members in the annual meeting packet spent more time talking about Dairyland Power Cooperative than the $60-plus million cooperative that he is in charge of running. One has to wonder just who is pulling the strings when it comes to the operations of the co-op.
A well respected, retired general manager of an electric cooperative once told me that he looked forward to their annual meetings. He expressed to me that it was a time for him to interact with the membership and an opportunity for the co-op to “shine.”
I can’t help but wonder what kind of leadership is in place that will affect my grandkids electric co-op. Attending the annual meeting did not give me an answer.
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