PLYMOUTH, NH (August 13, 2020) – New Hampshire Electric Cooperative’s (NHEC) Board of Directors has voted unanimously to propose amendments to the organization’s bylaws. These proposed changes would provide NHEC with additional flexibility as it explores various options to ensure its members have access to broadband internet. NHEC members will receive ballots in September for a special vote on the proposed amendments.

As NHEC has explored various options and opportunities to expand high speed internet access, it has become apparent that the organization’s bylaws do not provide the flexibility needed to enable the Co-op to take advantage of emerging local, state, and federal funding opportunities. While NHEC can provide its members with services and goods other than electric service, like broadband, the bylaws require a lengthy approval process of the business and funding opportunities for these other goods and services.

Earlier this year NHEC held its annual election to fill vacancies in the Co-op’s Board of Directors. As part of that election process, a group of NHEC members petitioned to add a ballot question adding “facilitating access to broadband internet for members” as one of the purposes for which NHEC was formed. This ballot question fell just short of achieving the two-thirds necessary for adoption, and NHEC’s founding documents were not amended. The vote that will be held in September is intended to amend only NHEC’s bylaws and does not change the Co-op’s primary focus on providing electric service. The proposed bylaw amendments would have been necessary even if the earlier vote had passed.

NHEC members will be able to vote by mail or electronic ballot on whether the organization’s bylaws should be amended. If the proposed amendments pass, the Co-op will have additional flexibility to enable the Board of Directors to quickly explore and pursue opportunities to provide all members with access to affordable high speed internet service. These opportunities include applying for local, state, and federal funding, partnering with other organizations, creating an affiliate to provide broadband, or potentially owning and operating a broadband network. The change in the bylaws would allow NHEC to pursue these options with approval from either the Board of Directors or by a member vote, depending upon the details of the opportunity.

“As a democratically governed cooperative, NHEC’s member-owners have a direct role in setting the Co-op’s priorities,” stated Tom Mongeon, Chair of NHEC’s Board of Directors. “I hope all members will vote in this special election and support the proposed bylaw changes to give the Co-op the needed flexibility to explore all broadband options.”

“The Co-op has been working diligently to explore and evaluate every avenue available to provide members with affordable, reliable, high speed internet service,” said Steve Camerino, NHEC’s President and CEO. “Through that work it is clear that our current bylaws need to be updated to reflect the speed at which opportunities are emerging.”

A special meeting will be held at 10 A.M. on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 for members to receive the results of the vote.   Given the current restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting will be held via Zoom Webinar. Registration and login information for Co-op members will be provided with the ballot and on NHEC’s website.

The text of the proposed bylaw amendments will be posted on NHEC’s website on or before August 20, 2020 and will be included on the ballots and in ballot-related materials to be mailed to members in September.