Over 500 Hill Country energy consumers gathered in the Fredericksburg High School Auditorium on August 18th, as Central Texas Electric Co-op hosted its 62nd Annual Members’ Meeting. Board President, David D. Smith welcomed them and CEO Robert A. Loth III introduced the other CTEC directors and Dr. Don Higginbotham, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, who gave a heartfelt invocation.
The business of the meeting, which included the election of four directors, ran smoothly as each nominee ran unopposed in his or her respective district. Directors Sue Whitworth, District 1(Kendall County); Gerald Kaspar, District 4(Llano County); and Smith, District 5 (Gillespie County), were all re-elected by acclamation. Newcomer Riley Kothmann gained the District 3 (Mason County) seat left vacant by exiting director Roger Jordan, whose term had expired. As the cooperative’s bylaws stipulate, a CTEC director’s time on the board is limited to four three-year terms.
“Term limits are a great thing, for if we didn’t have them, rest assured, we’d have directors for life, and that would be bad,” said Smith, who is starting his final three-year term. “Please join me in thanking Roger for his service to the cooperative. He was a consistent contributor at our meetings. Always positive, always on the mark and occasionally, sharp.” The crowd chuckled at Smith’s off-the-cuff quip, then applauded as Jordan stood to be recognized.
Just like at the 2008 meeting, a video presentation was shown in lieu of formal reports from Loth or Smith. The theme was “The Right Balance,” and Smith introduced it by saying: “We’re on track and pursuing your priorities. Nothing is more important to us than to hear your opinions on these priorities, so please call us any time with any questions or comments.”
In the video, both Loth and Smith said one of their top priorities is to prepare for future energy needs. “We’re focusing so much on our future sources because of our plans to leave the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA),” Smith said. “Central Texas and the other wholesale customers are required to buy more power from LCRA than it can generate, and LCRA has to go out and buy power on the market. The customers end up paying a marked-up price for power that we could buy cheaper without a middleman. The big decisions – about our power prices and about the generation assets that we have to fund – are made by LCRA directors who are not accountable to CTEC or its members. For those of us used to the co-op way of doing things, this is significantly out of balance.”
Loth continued, “Our contract with LCRA extends until 2016, and right now, contract renewal negotiations are at an impasse. We believe it is in our best interests to move toward alternate sources, perhaps leaving LCRA before our contract expires, and we’d like to eventually move toward ownership of generation assets.”
Following the video report, Loth recognized co-op employees for reaching a safety milestone last month, when they completed one year without a lost-time accident. Loth offered special thanks to several employees with extended tenure at the cooperative, including twenty-five year veterans Michael Nebgen, Curtis Rogers, and Stuart Stech, and thirty-year employees Dennis Crenwelge, Bob Davis, and Billy King. Loth also recognized State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, District 53 and State Rep. Doug Miller, District 73, who were in attendance, along with Mel Ferguson, representing state Sen. Troy Fraser.
Afterward, Loth and Smith held a brief question-and-answer session for members, giving them an opportunity to voice their concerns and comments. “This is my favorite part of the meeting,” Smith said. “Although, I think that your favorite part is soon to follow: the door prizes.”
The audience didn’t have to wait long. After a few questions, Member Services Manager Carlos Staudt awarded 38 prizes to lucky members, and the meeting was concluded.
The newly-constituted board convened an organizational meeting following adjournment of the member meeting. Michael Randolph of Cherokee was elected to serve as board president, along Kingsland’s Gerald Kaspar, who was chosen as vice-president, and Prairie Mountain’s Stanley Keese, who was selected to serve as secretary-treasurer.