Across the Cook Inlet watershed, railbelt electric co-ops are hosting their board of directors’ elections now. These elections are often overlooked yet they have real measurable effects on individual member-owners and our state at large. In the midst of a global climate crisis and ever growing economic disparities, our local institutions matter and, while all institutions have a responsibility to be part of the solution, we must expect more from our energy utilities.
Each of the electric utilities on the railbelt – Homer Electric Association, Chugach Electric Association and Matanuska Electric Association – position themselves as being renewable friendly; however, we need board members who will scrutinize the status quo and hold these co-ops accountable to taking actions that rapidly reduce dependence on fossil fuels and invest in utility-scale renewable energy projects. Beyond that, we need board members committed to a no-shut-off policy during the pandemic and, in the long-term, to envisioning and empowering an equitable energy system.
Participation in these elections is typically low. In the case of Homer Electric Association, board of directors’ seats have been determined by only 10% of member-owners over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, member-owners’ trust in the electric co-op is eroding as the price of electricity continues to rise. Just as it is the board members’ responsibility to hold the utility accountable, it is the member-owners’ duty to elect strong board members and hold them accountable. In the spirit of making a difference where we can – let’s empower ourselves and our neighbors to vote in this utility election cycle.
Here’s what you need to know: