Most significant, two directors who have held their seats for roughly three decades will not seek re-election, new CEO Chip Nelson revealed Wednesday. They are Larry Chadwick, a director for 29 years and board chairman for 23 years, and Sarah Brown, a director for 32 years.
Now the other eight directors should follow suit. CEO Nelson was asked if all still intend to run for re-election, he said: “I’m not going to say all the others are.” Whatever that means, EMC members should keep the pressure on for all the holdover incumbents to not seek another term. They are thoroughly discredited. It’s time for new blood and a fresh start.
Nelson also laid out “new day transparency initiatives,” including the first-time release of EMC quarterly earnings with the report for the quarter ended July 31 possibly being posted by today. This reversal of Nelson’s stance a couple of months ago suggests he may be seeing the light with respect to who actually owns the co-op — the member-ratepayers.
And EMC board of directors meetings will be open to members and the press starting next January if the board approves this new sunshine policy at its October session. Nelson said he was confident the change would be approved, suggesting that at least a majority of the holdovers are starting to see the light as to who owns the EMC. No other EMC in Georgia could claim such distinction — one that, for a change, members can be proud of.
Nelson even let the sunshine in on his salary, disclosing his base pay is $474,000 plus benefits that bring it to $483,000 total, far less than ex-CEO Dwight Brown’s $575,000. Yet Nelson’s salary is still considerably higher than the $425,000 salary of the CEO of Jackson EMC, Georgia’s largest EMC.
Other changes include returning all employees of Brown’s piggybank Cobb Energy subsidiary to the EMC and sending bills out under the EMC name instead of Cobb Energy. Of much greater significance, Nelson said capital credits earned by members will be retired in the future and credits could show up on EMC bills by early 2012.
What about a forensic audit of the co-op’s books? Nelson said it might cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million. A drop in the bucket compared to the millions paid to lawyers defending the indefensible acts of the holdover directors. They will take this up at their Oct. 25 meeting — under the watchful eye of members in attendance at a board meeting for the first time ever.
Nelson said: “We’re a cooperative. We’re owned by the members, and members have a right to know.”
Indeed. Let the sunshine in on our EMC.