Bylaw bargaining — HEA ballots let members choose

Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2005

Should a person who sells plumbing supplies be allowed to serve on the board of directors of the Homer Electric Association?

Members have the opportunity to vote on this question, and eight other proposed changes to the HEA bylaws, in the electric cooperative's annual election.

HEA is an electric cooperative serves more than 19,000 members on the western Kenai Peninsula from Sterling to the south side of Kachemak Bay.

This year's election gives members the chance to vote on the cooperative's board of directors and proposed changes in the bylaws.

"It's absolutely important that people vote on this," HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher said. "It's one of the key components of a co-op, the fact that it's owned by the members."

Some of the proposed changes are housekeeping measures, he said.

For example, when HEA first started, there was a push by cooperatives to encourage people to hook up to the cooperative's system, Gallagher said. At the time, co-ops were actively involved in selling electrical and plumbing appliances as a part of this push, he said, adding this was to help prevent a conflict of interest.

That has since changed, and the conflict of interest is no longer an issue, Gallagher said.

The proposed changes to the bylaws were decided through a review of the HEA board with an attorney. However, no changes can be made without the consent of members.

Here is a rundown of proposed changes in the bylaws that members will have the opportunity to vote up or down on their ballot:

n Removing masculine pronouns in the bylaws in favor of gender neutral language.

n Allowing prospective members to become an HEA member with an electronic application. This proposition also would eliminate the requirement that the board formally cancel a person's membership.

n Making the $5 membership fee nonrefundable. This would apply only to new members.

n Eliminating membership certificates for new members.

n Allowing members to vote on an HEA matter without the necessity of first holding a meeting. This proposition would not eliminate HEA's annual meeting.

n Permitting people who sell plumbing supplies to serve on the HEA board of directors.

n Eliminating the preference given to deceased members' estates. The bylaws currently give a preference to refund capital credits to deceased members' estates. Capital credits are income earned above HEA's operating costs.

They are returned to members in cash credits based on a member's usage. This would help HEA avoid having these capital credits be a liability under new accounting standards, Gallagher said.

n Changing the title of the Rural Electrification Administration to the Rural Utilities Service. REA already has changed its title, but the change is not reflected in the bylaws.

n Removing the 1995 district boundaries from the bylaws. These boundaries are no longer in effect.

Mail-in ballots must be received by May 2. People who do not mail in a ballot will have the opportunity to vote at the annual meeting.

HEA's annual membership meeting will be 6 p.m. May 3 at Soldotna High School. Registration will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Hamburgers and hot dogs will be served. Energy credits will be given out as door prizes. The grand prize is one year of free power up to 10,000 kilowatt hours.

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