NHEC Board of Directors Oppose Changing Co-op’s Purpose, Continue to Support Broadband

PLYMOUTH, NH (May 28, 2020) – On May 21, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) members began receiving their ballots for the 2020 Board of Directors election. This year, in addition to selecting three directors to join the Co-op’s 11 member board, members are also being asked to decide if the purpose for which NHEC exists should be changed.

A question has been placed on the ballot through member petition to change NHEC’s founding documents to include “facilitating access to broadband internet for members” as one of the reasons the Co-op was formed. NHEC is a democratically-controlled electric cooperative, and the participation of its members in its governance is vital. That participation includes the ability to propose changes in how NHEC is governed or conducts business.

NHEC’s Board of Directors is charged with considering member proposals and recommending to the full membership whether to support or oppose the proposed changes.  In this case, after full consideration of the proposal, the Board of Directors voted 7-3, with one abstention, to recommend that the proposed change not be approved by NHEC’s members.

NHEC, and its Board of Directors, fully support the expansion of broadband service throughout the Co-op’s service territory, and have directed NHEC’s management to facilitate and support broadband expansion. However, the Board did not support adding a new purpose to NHEC’s Certificate of Organization because of a number of concerns, including the potential to divert resources from the Co-op’s existing core focus on delivering safe, reliable, affordable electric service to its members.

NHEC has taken many steps to support the expansion of broadband over the last several years. In 2018, NHEC commissioned an analysis and business model proposal on the development of a broadband system. This proposal was judged to be too costly and would have put NHEC’s finances and electric system at risk. While the Board elected not to build a broadband network, NHEC has pursued other ways to support broadband expansion, including engaging in extensive discussions with consultants, broadband providers, municipal groups, the NH Broadband Investment Initiative, the University System of New Hampshire, and others active in the industry. The primary purpose of these efforts has been to make it as widely known as possible that NHEC supports the expansion of broadband service to all its members, and that it stands ready to facilitate, support and participate in creative efforts to make that happen.

More recently, in response to the interest expressed by members who support the ballot question, the Board of Directors created an ad hoc committee to explore if there are additional ways NHEC can further facilitate development of a broadband network by a third party in its service territory, without putting the Co-op’s finances and electric system at risk.

During the public discussion regarding the ballot petition, there has been confusion surrounding who may attach to NHEC’s utility poles, and how they do so. NHEC already allows any company, municipality, or other party to attach to its poles, including the broadband companies who are providing services to NHEC members today. This open access is required of all utility pole owners by New Hampshire law.

While the Board of Directors voted to recommend against creating a new purpose for the organization, NHEC has worked, and will continue to work, to support the expansion of broadband in the communities we serve.

NHEC Annual Meeting Is June 22, 2020

The 81st Annual Meeting of Members will be held on Monday, June 22 at 10 a.m.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Sununu’s Executive Order 2020-04 and Emergency Order 12 (Temporary modification of public access to meetings under RSA 91-A), NHEC’s 2020 Annual Meeting will be conducted electronically, without a physical location.

The 2020 Annual Meeting will be broadcast as a live Zoom Webinar. To register for the meeting, please visit: https://www.nhec.com/2020-annual-meeting/.

When your registration has been confirmed, you will receive an email link to the Annual Meeting URL, which you can bookmark and add to your calendar. Just click the meeting link a little before 10 a.m. on June 22 to listen in and/or ask questions. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with NHEC staff and Board.

Voting Underway in 2020 Election

PLYMOUTH, NH (May 21, 2020) – Voting is underway in the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) annual election. As a member-owned, democratic electric cooperative, NHEC members vote each year on the organization’s Board of Directors and proposed bylaw changes. This year NHEC members will vote to fill three seats on NHEC’s Board of Directors.

NHEC members have until Tuesday, June 16, 2020 to return their completed paper ballot or cast their electronic ballot via a secure, online portal. Election results will be announced at the 81st Annual Meeting of Members, to be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 22. Due to ongoing restrictions on public gatherings, the annual meeting will be conducted online, with no physical location. To register to attend the online meeting, please visit www.nhec.com/2020-annual-meeting. All NHEC members are welcome to attend and will be able to interact with presenters.

Five candidates are seeking election this year to three seats on NHEC’s 11-member Board of Directors. Four candidates were selected by the NHEC Nominating Committee, which reviews the qualifications of each candidate and recommends those it feels would best contribute to the successful operation of NHEC. A fifth candidate was nominated by petition, which according to NHEC Bylaws, must be signed by at least 100 current NHEC members.

This year’s candidates selected by the Nominating Committee include Leo Dwyer of Sandwich, Madeline McElaney of Plymouth, Mark Portu of Lincoln, and Harry Viens of Center Harbor. William Darcy of Benton was nominated by petition. NHEC members will receive written statements from the candidates in support of their candidacies along with a ballot.

This year’s ballot also includes a proposed change to NHEC’s Certificate of Organization, which states the purposes for which NHEC was formed. The proposed amendment was submitted by member petition, and seeks to add language to the NHEC Certificate of Organization that would include “facilitating access to broadband internet for members” as a stated purpose of the cooperative. By a vote of 7-3 with one abstention, the NHEC Board of Directors has opposed the proposed change. The statements of proponents and opponents are included on the ballot. Results of the voting will be announced with the Board election results at NHEC’s Annual Meeting on June 22.

NHEC Holding Rates Steady for Summer Period

PLYMOUTH, NH – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) has announced that it will hold its Co-op Power rate steady at the current level for the summer period (May 2020 – November 2020).

The Co-op Power rate reflects the cost NHEC pays to purchase electricity from the regional market on behalf of its members. The price NHEC pays for this power is directly passed along to its members who do not buy their electricity from a competitive supplier. Market prices have been low, so NHEC members will continue to benefit from lower regional electricity costs. The current Co-op Power rate is 18% lower than last year’s summer period.

“With all the uncertainty and economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to be able to continue to provide low rates for our members,” said NHEC President/CEO Steve Camerino.

For members who purchase their power from NHEC, the Co-op Power rate will remain at 6.6¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The total billing rate for the summer period is 14¢ per kWh. For the typical residential member using 500 kWh per month, the total monthly bill is $99.47. By comparison, last summer’s total monthly bill for a 500 kWh residential member was $104.55.

NHEC’s complete schedule of rates and fees is available here.

Project Care Waiving Referral Requirements for May 2020

In response to the economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, NHEC has made it easier for members in need to access help through its Project Care assistance program.

For the month of May 2020, the Project Care Board of Directors has waived the requirement that members obtain a referral from a social service agency to apply for financial assistance. If you have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for assistance to pay your electric bill through Project Care, even if you have never needed financial assistance before. See further information in the Project Care application here.

Project Care is a tax-exempt charitable organization that was formed in 1990 to assist NHEC members in need with their electric bills. Since that time, we have helped thousands of members pay their electric bills. Members eligible to receive Project Care funds will receive a credit applied to their NHEC bill.

To apply, please call our Member Solutions department at 1-800-698-2007 or fill out the application here.

Capital Credits to be listed on April/May bills

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative will be allocating positive operating margins to each of its members’ accounts based on their individual usage.  As a result, a line item pertaining to “capital credits” will appear on the bottom of your April and/or May bills (see message below).  It will indicate the amount that is being set aside in your capital account.  Please note that this is an equity account, not a cash account.  It represents your ownership interest, or equity, in the Cooperative.