Washington Electric Co-op's 84th Annual Meeting
In 2023, voting will take place by mail and in person at the Annual Meeting. In April, you’ll receive a packet containing ballots for the Board of Directors election and any bylaw changes, plus the Annual Meeting issue of Co-op Currents. Check the deadline to post your votes by mail. WEC members may write in names of unofficial candidates. All candidates run at-large.
WEC will hold an in-person Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Members are welcome to vote in person this year.
If your voting packet is missing any items, contact us immediately at 802-224-2322.
Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 230 Fassett Road, East Montpelier, VT 05651
Don Douglas of East Orange, Jean Hamilton of Plainfield, and Mary Just Skinner of Middlesex won re-election to Washington Electric Cooperative’s (WEC) member-led Board of Directors. All three elected Directors are incumbent members of the Board. Carl Etnier, of East Montpelier, received the fourth-highest number of votes and was a first-time candidate for WEC's Board of Directors.
Board President Stephen Knowlton thanked all candidates and highlighted Etnier for his commitment to community through serving on the East Montpelier selectboard and in other roles. Knowlton also expressed appreciation to WEC's Ballot Committee for their role in the democratic process.
The total vote counts were Douglas, 643; Hamilton, 629; Skinner, 576; Etnier, 473. Every year three Directors are elected to the nine-person Board.
The results were announced Thursday night by Knowlton at WEC’s Annual Meeting, held at WEC's Operations Center in East Montpelier. Each Board member serves a three-year term, effective immediately. All WEC Directors serve at-large.
At the Annual Meeting...
- Director elections, Co-op business, Q&A with staff and Board members
- Registration and ballot boxes open at 4:30 pm; Buffet opens at 5 pm
- Business meeting begins at 6:00 pm (tentative) - Agenda here
- Dinner at no charge by reservation only*
- All are welcome, including kids!
Questions? Please call Rosie Casciero at 802.224.2322.
*To help reduce waste, no-shows will incur a $3 charge on their May electric bill. If you find that you are unable to attend after registering, please call Rosie before April 26 to cancel the reservation and you will not be charged. Thank you!
Interested in serving on the WEC Board of Directors?
Thanks for your interest! Oversight of WEC by its member-owners represents one of the unique aspects of how electric cooperatives are governed. Directors serve at large, representing the nearly 10,000 members throughout WEC’s service territory. It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure the financial stability and well-being of the Co-op, equitable treatment of its members, safe operations and distribution of power, environmental stewardship in performing its core mission of providing power, and support of the communities it serves.
If you would like to participate in the democratic governance of your electric Co-op, download a Confirmation of Membership form, review the included information about the Co-op and Board of Directors, and return the completed form to email@example.com. Once your membership is confirmed, you will receive a copy of the informational packet for prospective candidates.
We encourage you to contact Board President Stephen Knowlton with any further questions on what it means to serve on the WEC Board of Directors. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-595-5825.
This year, voting may be done by mail and in person at the Annual Meeting on May 4. All mailed ballots must be received by the Barre Post Office by 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in order to be counted. Be sure to vote for only 3 candidates; sign the official ballot envelope; place the official ballot envelope in the business reply envelope, then drop it in the mail to the Barre P.O.! Please do not include any correspondence or payment in the envelope(s).
May 5, 2022: Farnham, Alexander, & Allen Elected to WEC Board of Directors
Steven Farnham of Plainfield, Susan Alexander of Cabot, and Betsy Allen of Plainfield won election to Washington Electric Cooperative’s (WEC) member-led Board of Directors. Farnham was the sole incumbent running for re-election; Alexander and Allen were newly elected to the Board.
The results were announced Thursday night by Board President Stephen Knowlton at WEC’s annual meeting, which was held virtually. Each board member serves a three-year term, effective immediately. All WEC directors serve at-large.
2022 brought a historic number of candidates interested in serving on the electric cooperative’s Board, as seven candidates vied for three seats. The remaining candidates were Olivia Campbell Andersen of East Montpelier, Pat Barnes of Vershire, Rachel Onuf of Washington, and JJ Vandette of Middlesex.
Knowlton thanked the candidates for their time and consideration. He was gratified by how many members chose to run, he said, and hoped to see them run again in coming years. “Your willingness to learn how a cooperative utility works and how we can serve our fellow members, to have power owned by the people, for the people, is something we don’t find every day,” he added.
“A sincere thank you to each candidate for their interest and their commitment, and congratulations to Steve, Susan and Betsy,” said WEC General Manager Louis Porter. “I look forward to working with our new Board members and our full Board on the many challenges and opportunities our co-op faces, including climate change resilience and supporting members as they implement energy efficiency and beneficial electrical technologies, and to work together to fulfill our mission of bringing reliable, affordable power to our members in an equitable way.”
Bylaw amendment passes
WEC members voted to approve a bylaw amendment to allow for electronic (online) voting. Previously, members could vote only in person or by mailed ballot.
The bylaw amendment also allows notice of member meetings to be delivered electronically, at a future time when the Board of Directors determines available technology can reach members reliably, efficiently, and equitably.
Finally, the amendment updates language to use gender-neutral terms and clarifies omissions and ambiguities in the text of Article II. Members may request a copy of the bylaws anytime or click here to read them online.
2022 - Background
Every year, WEC’s membership elects three fellow members to serve on the Co-op’s nine-seat Board of Directors. The members who serve in these critical roles oversee management and staff and make policy and leadership decisions for the member-owned electric utility.
In 2022, seven candidates vied for three seats. Two of these seats were vacant, as Directors Barry Bernstein and Annie Reed did not run for re-election. Steven Farnham of Plainfield was the sole incumbent running for re-election.
In alphabetical order, the remaining six candidates were Susan Alexander of Cabot, Betsy Allen of Plainfield, Olivia Campbell Andersen of East Montpelier, Pat Barnes of Vershire, Rachel Onuf of Washington, and JJ Vandette of Middlesex.
In the March issue of Co-op Currents, candidates were invited to make a brief statement to the membership introducing themselves. In the April issue, candidates responded to the following questions:
- What is your name, in what town is your Co-op membership, and how should members contact you?
- What skills, expertise, and/or perspectives would you bring to the Board?
- What are the most important issues the cooperative will face in the next few years? How would you guide the Co-op in regard to these issues?
- Is there anything else you would like to tell the members?
Read 2022's elected directors' responses below.
I live in East Orange at 21 Douglas Road. I have lived here since 1980. I have been a co-op member since 1978. I retired a few years ago after working for the Postal Service as a rural letter carrier for 37 years. I delivered mail in parts of Topsham, Corinth, Orange, Washington, Newbury, and Bradford. I can be reached at home at 439-5364 or by email at email@example.com. I am always happy to talk about WEC and energy issues in general.
I was recently appointed the Vermont representative to the national board of the NRECA which represents all electric utilities in the US. It is an honor to represent Vermont on the national level and it’s quite an education hearing about the issues and solutions from all across the country. I have served on the WEC board since 1999 and have served as Board Treasurer since 2000.
I have been involved in coops nearly my entire life. My hometown in East Tennessee was served by the TVA and got its electricity from Hydroelectric, Coal, Wind, Nuclear and Solar. In college, I joined and helped start food coops and even a garbage coop that was making compost in Austin, Texas. Here in Vermont, we started the Sugar Maple Cooperative Nursery school in 1984. Coops exist to serve a need. More than 50% of the United States did not have electricity before the creation of the REA in 1937. WEC serves the most rural, the most difficult terrain in Vermont because there is less money to be made serving us. Despite the challenges of weather and geography WEC supplies reliable renewable energy to our more than 11,000 members.
I have been with WEC since I moved to my home in East Montpelier in 2001. I am running for my first term on the board; my experience on boards is that they benefit from a mixture of senior members with institutional knowledge and newer members with fresh perspectives. You can reach me by phone at 802-441-3337 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have focused on some aspect of sustainability my entire career. I studied sustainable agriculture at Cornell before there was a formal program by that name. During a 10-year stint in Sweden and Norway, I moved into sustainable wastewater treatment, working with ways to reuse the nutrients in human waste as fertilizer, helping establish the field of ecological engineering for wastewater treatment, and educating young scientists and activists from around the Baltic Sea region when the collapse of the Soviet Bloc first made that possible. Back in the US, I continued with sustainable wastewater work, until concerns about energy supply led me to grapple with energy questions through radio, print, and online journalism and on a local energy and resilience committees. I have been exploring and promoting community resilience in that way since 2006.
I serve as vice-chair of the East Montpelier Selectboard, which I've been on since 2011. (I served as the board champion for the town vote in favor of joining CV Fiber, and I'm pleased that WEC is cooperating with the organization to help bring high-speed internet to all of us.) I learned a lot about the co-operative model, and running a successful business that embraces values beyond the bottom line, as a board member of Hunger Mountain Co-op. There, I chaired the bylaws committee that overhauled the co-op's bylaws and led to a member vote to pass the changes in 2022. I also served for years on the board of the Vermont chapter of the American Friends Service Committee.
Can a rural utility like WEC avoid mass defection of our members in the face of the twin threats from climate change and plummeting prices on solar electricity and battery storage? Vermont's electric rates are high in the US, and WEC's rates are high in Vermont. At the same time, disconnecting from the grid is getting cheaper--and more attractive for non-economic reasons, too. The multi-day Christmas outages (six days in my neighborhood, and longer in some places) were the result of a powerful storm that's becoming more common with climate change. I know people living off the grid in WEC's service territory who said they "laughed" at the outages while they carried on as usual.
At what point do a significant number of (especially wealthier) members disconnect, leaving the rest of us to pay for maintaining the same number of miles of lines in the wooded hills of rural Vermont? On the brighter side, as more members shift to heat pumps and electric cars, WEC has the potential to significantly boost revenues per mile of electric lines. The choices WEC makes in coming years will be critical to its ability to serve all its members with reliable, affordable, renewable electricity.
Mr. Etnier elected to submit only one statement.
Since moving to Vermont in 2000, I have worked in sustainable agriculture and the local food system. My career in farming and food systems has helped me hone the skills and perspectives that I bring to the WEC Board. Food and energy are similar in that they are essential resources with large environmental impacts moving through highly complex market systems. I am a nuanced and strategic thinker and am committed to designing community solutions that prioritize healthy communities. Within the energy sector, my vision is 100% aligned with WEC’s values: Provide energy from clean reliable sources, help members meet their energy needs as efficiently as possible, operate safely and reliably, and cultivate community in all that we do.
I am running for the board because I love this organization, I love this community, and I want to use my skills to make it easier for you to affordably and renewably meet your energy needs. Climate and market instability is pushing and pulling our co-operative in different conflicting directions. Now is time for all of us members to lean in, engage in honest dialogue, and courageously imagine the energy future we want to build together.
I hope I have a chance to keep working with the Board, Staff and Member Owners to advance weatherization initiatives, innovative distributed energy programs, and a community culture of care.
I have lived in Middlesex since 1977. I have been a WEC member for 46 years, and before then I was a Vermont Electric Coop member for 7 years. I was married for 49 years when my husband Scott passed away in 2018. We have two sons and daughter in laws with three grandchildren. I can be reached at 802-223-7123, 802-636-7592 (cell), and by email at email@example.com.
I graduated from Barnard College and earned my law degree at Columbia University. I was a practicing attorney in Montpelier from 1972 until recently. I worked for Vermont Legal Aid for four years and then opened my own law practice in 1978. My practice primarily involved family law, real estate, and probate, but earlier I was involved in a number of utility cases. I represented a group of low-income Vermonters in what was known as the “purchased power” case in 1974 which went to the Vermont Supreme Court. We won. That meant utilities could not automatically increase rates without the then Public Service Board’s approval.
I have been a member of the WEC board for 11 years. I’m a WEC officer, Secretary. I serve on three committees: Chair of Power and Operations, Finance, and Policy. I served on the Community Fund committee until recently. I was a member of the Middlesex Select Board for 24 years until March 2022, the last thirteen as Vice Chair. I also served seven terms in the Vermont State Senate, including a period as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which handles utility legislation. I am a member of the Vermont Human Services Board, having been appointed by two governors. The Board hears appeals from Agency of Human Services decisions.
I’ve enjoyed serving on the WEC board. I would be honored to serve another term. If re-elected, I will bring the expertise I have acquired to the important decisions WEC faces in this rapidly changing world.
As a recently retired elementary public school teacher and math coach for elementary and middle school teachers, I would be honored to be elected to the Board of Directors for the Washington Electric Cooperative team.
During my 30 year teaching career, I had many opportunities to work with teacher and administration teams. I led many professional learning communities of grade level teachers, presented at staff meetings, and was a member of local and national math curriculum development teams, as well as a math coach to elementary and middle school teachers. Numerous workshops, the Snelling Institute, and several advanced degrees taught me leadership and team building skills that apply both to school and business settings and that I will bring to the WEC Board of Directors.
One of the reasons I am running for a position on the WEC board is that I have noticed how this cooperative really works hard to support our community and its members in many ways. They offer incentives for energy efficient heat pumps and water heaters, pellet stoves and furnaces, home electric car chargers with a power shift program, and the Community Fund. They recently revised the electric rate structure to reflect today’s energy use. And they continue to evaluate utility resources and be 100 percent renewable. These business decisions are all made by thoughtful and caring Board members who work hard to serve our community members’ electric needs.
The newest challenge is deciding about WEC’s involvement to help provide fiber optic broadband service to our rural towns. This is a complicated issue that your Board of Directors and Manager have been researching. If elected I would learn more about this issue and how it may affect the financial future of the cooperative and members.
In short, I am excited to run for a Director position to join the WEC team of dedicated community members and employees who play such an important role in supporting our community and lives. I am a hard worker who will bring commitment to listen to and consider member needs as decisions are made. Thank you for your vote.
Residence: Five generations of my family have been WEC members since power lines were strung across our farm in Plainfield, my home since birth. The farm’s WEC membership has been in my name since 1995. You may contact me at Steven4WEC@gmail.com, or 802.917.2581.
Background: Graduated local school system, secured Associate’s in Electronics (with Honours) from VTC; subsequently furthered studies in Business Administration at UVM, and the International College of Cayman Islands. Early engineering career consisted of work at Mitel Semiconductor, GE, and DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) in Quality Assurance, Manufacturing, Technical Support, and a summer job servicing substation equipment at Green Mountain Power. Recent endeavours include semi “retirement” in heavy equipment operation, selling agricultural products, carpentry, machinery repair & restoration.
Community: WEC Board since 2019, including service on the Power and Operations Committee, as well as present or past service on boards of Hunger Mountain food co-op, Vermont Philharmonic, and Cutler Library. Served with Cutler Friends of the Library, Plainfield planning commission, and Justice of Peace. Fifteen years host of weekly community affairs program - WGDR-FM. Judge at Vermont State Science and Math Fair (now Vt STEM Fair), Volunteer at Barre Opera House, Lost Nation Theatre, and Montpelier Senior Activity Center (pre-CoViD). Forest Pest First Detector: Trained to recognise signs of various exotic invasive tree-eating insect pests.
I have participated in over 75 conferences and seminars aimed at land and woodland management, community/leadership development, environmental concerns and personal interest. These include: Arbour Day (6), Grazing (>5), Forest Ecology Monitoring Cooperative (5), NOFA-VT, Vermont Coverts Cooperator, Vermont Woodlands Association (>3), Abolitionist Challenge (2), Consumer Cooperative Management Association (4), Neighboring Food Co-op Association, Municipal Day (3), Slow Living Summit (3), VECAN (4), VNRC (3).
Current membership in five co-ops: Credit Union, Co-op Insurance, Energy Co-op of Vermont, Hunger Mountain Food Co-op, Washington Electric, and lapsed/past memberships in six others: Cabot Creamery, City Market (Onion River Co-op), Granite City Grocery, Onion River Exchange, Plainfield Co-op, Vermont Development Credit Union (now Opportunities Credit Union).
My affinity for co-ops stems from their obligation to serve their members. No IOU can make that claim. Washington Electric Co-op serves its members well; I am committed to seeing this continue and improve. It’s been an honour to serve my first term; I’d appreciate your support to serve another. Thank you.