Annual Meeting

Washington Electric Co-op's 85th Annual Meeting

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VOTING

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 2, 2024
Doors open at 4:30 p.m., program begins at 5:00 p.m., buffet opens at 5:30 pm
Barre Auditorium - 16 Auditorium Hill, Barre, VT 05641

Unapproved - 2023 Annual Membership Meeting Minutes - please click to review

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!

Special Presenter: Erica Heilman, producer of the podcast Rumble Strip.

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!

Annual Meeting RegistrationCLICK HERE

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).

Important Information

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.”

Read newly elected directors’ and candidates’ policy statements below.

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.

Learn More

Meet the 2024 Candidates for the Board of Directors

Five Co-op members seek election to three available seats on WEC’s Board of Directors. Olivia Campbell Andersen and Ian Buchanan have joined the running with incumbents Pat Barnes, Stephen Knowlton, and Richard Rubin.

Each Director serves a three-year term. WEC members may vote for or write in a maximum of three candidates. Ballots may be submitted at the Annual Meeting on May 2, or returned by mail. Any mailed ballots must be received by the Barre Post Office before the May 1 deadline.

In the February-March issue of Co-op Currents, all known candidates are invited to make a brief statement to the membership introducing themselves. In the April-May issue, candidates respond 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?

Click the link below each candidate's biographical statement to read their answers to policy-related questions.

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Olivia Campbell Andersen

East Montpelier, VT
sunshineOliviaC@gmail.com
802-522-8501

An East Montpelier resident, Olivia Campbell Andersen founded and operates Anderbell Acres, a solar-powered organic berry and flower farm and special events venue, where she lives with her husband and daughter, 31 hens, and Rebel Great Pyr. Olivia also leads U.S. public policy and market development for ABB E-mobility, the world’s largest EV charging technology manufacturer. Prior to joining ABB, Olivia's advanced Vermonters access to renewable electricity, heating (wood, heat pumps, geothermal), energy resilience (battery storage), and electric transportation choices as Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont. Focusing on sustainability and environmental issues at all levels of government, her career also includes service with former Congressional Leader Steny Hoyer, the Department of Natural Resources, and the National Wildlife Federation. Olivia earned degrees from Vermont Law School and Gettysburg College. She and her family are members of the Old Meeting House where she serves on the spiritual life committee and teaches children's Sunday school. She also teaches hot yoga at Green Mountain Community Fitness and sings with the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir.

Olivia's Policy Statement - click here

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Pat Barnes

Vershire, VT
bpatbarnes@gmail.com

I have been a resident of Vershire, Vermont for thirty years where my career has been dedicated to science education. In my volunteer work, I serve as an EMT
and firefighter, a wilderness search and rescue responder, a Justice of the
Peace and member of the Board of Civil Authority, and a past member of a school board.

I now operate a home weatherization firm dedicated to helping customers use energy more effectively. My goal is to increase comfort and reduce costs and carbon emissions, whatever energy source (petroleum, biomass, electricity) my customers choose to use.

I wish to be a member of the WEC Board to help carry our Co-op into the next era. I believe that Co-op members should be producing and consuming more electricity. Electrical energy is proving to be the most reliable, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient source of energy. We need policies that diversify and distribute our electrical production (such as solar and wind) while encouraging the transition to efficient electrical power for heat and transportation.

The challenges we face are numerous: meeting the demand of increased electrical use; maintaining our power lines in the face of increasingly destructive storms and forest threats like the Emerald Ash Borer; increasing our grid’s capacity to accommodate solar and wind power; all while delivering great service at an affordable price.

We will need to combine the right incentives and rate structures with the Co-op’s clout in persuading the Vermont Public Utility Commission to craft policies that serve our members in this decade and the next.

Pat's Policy Statement - click here

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Ian Buchanan

East Montpelier, VT
isb900@gmail.com
802-595-3828

As a father, business owner, and (outside of eight years following college) lifelong Vermont resident, I have had a vested interest in the well-being of Vermont and its communities for a long time. I have spent the past 23 years building the business I founded and the past eight raising my daughter, Elena, with my wife, Judy. We have been WEC members in East Montpelier since 2018. My interests in energy, technology, permanence, and equity align well with the board’s mission.

Strong advocacy and a willingness to compromise are frequently essential ingredients to progress. Some of our biggest challenges today, including reducing pollution and emissions while simultaneously expanding electrical capacity, require patience, pragmatism, and execution. They also often lack simple binary yes/no answers. I thrive on fleshing out long-term reality from the noise. We need to make informed decisions so that unintended negative consequences are avoided whenever possible.

As a business owner in Vermont, I am aware of the many challenges and hurdles facing service providers like WEC. I have a keen interest and qualified experience in finance, budgeting, planning, risk management, the environment, organizational assessment, and electricity-based transportation and HVAC. My goal is to help position WEC to navigate and create as successful a future as possible. This means providing all members with ample, reliable, clean electricity affordably while maintaining the integrity, sustainability, and compliance expected by regulators and members alike.

WEC is at a disadvantage to larger utilities when it comes to lobbying and leveraging economies of scale. We must be willing to learn from others while innovating and making calculated investments of our own. Simultaneously, we need to maintain awareness of how the pursuit of perfection can easily be the enemy of fulfilling the very good. The past should be respected, but it is important to be dynamic and proactive; WEC needs to be a future facing organization.

As a productive and committed member of the WEC Board, I will work hard and advocate for the members as a whole. I look forward to continuing to learn about the complexities that drive the greater electrical grid, proposing well-vetted ideas, and contributing to the team that helps make it all work. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn your vote.

I can be reached at 802-595-3828 or isb900@gmail.com. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss energy in general or WEC in particular.

Ian's Policy Statement - click here

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Stephen Knowlton

East Montpelier, VT
knowlsf@auburn.edu
802-223-2230

I live in the White Pine community off of Dillon Rd. in East Montpelier. I have lived there since 2012, and I have been a member of Washington Electric Cooperative since 2001. Members may contact me by mail at 160 White Rock Dr. #2, Montpelier, VT 05602, by email at knowlsf@auburn.edu, or by phone at 223-2230.

Prior to moving to the Montpelier area, I have lived in a number of different places in the US and abroad, partly as a result of growing up in a military family. I graduated from Middlebury College, and later received my PhD in physics from MIT in 1984. I have spent most of my working life as a physics professor and as a researcher in the science of alternative energy experiments both domestically and overseas. I spent much of my professional career at Auburn University in Alabama, where I taught physics at all levels from introductory physics to graduate courses. While there I led a federally-supported experimental fusion energy research laboratory comprised of students, post-docs, technicians, and staff scientists. I retired from this position in 2012. Until 2022, I served as a member and vice-chair of a federal advisory committee to the Office of Science at the US Department of Energy.

In December 2014, I was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors, and I was elected to the Board in May 2015. During my time on the board, I have served on the Power and Operations Committee, Policy Committee, and Members and Marketing Committee. I was selected to be President of the Board in 2021. I was active for a number of years in the effort to facilitate broadband access for all WEC members. In local education efforts, I have acted as a mentor in U-32 high school’s Branching Out program on several projects, and also serve as a science advisor to the Vermont Energy Education Project. I am a member of the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering, and until January 2024 served on its board as treasurer.

Steve's Policy Statement - click here

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Richard Rubin

Plainfield, VT
richardirubin@gmail.com

I have lived on East Hill in Plainfield for more than 50 years. I am married to Jayne Israel. We have three children and five grandchildren. I enjoy hiking, skiing, gardening, golf, and hanging out with my
grandchildren. My email address is richardirubin@gmail.com.

I was born and raised outside of Boston. I attended Harvard College, and law school at the University of Pennsylvania. I have practiced law in Barre for 40 years. My law firm is Rubin, Kidney, Myer & Vincent. Our firm is also the public defender for Washington County. My practice has involved representing people with all kinds of legal problems. Mainly, I am a trial lawyer.

I have served as a WEC Director for 20 years. I was first elected after being appointed to complete the term of a Board member who had resigned. In the community, I was a member of the Twinfield School Board for five years, helped establish the original food co-op in Plainfield, and served on the board of Vermont Legal Aid. I have also been active in various legal organizations and am now a member of the board of the Vermont Association for Justice. Many years ago, I was involved with my brother, Mathew Rubin, in creating the Wrightsville hydroelectric facility and the Winooski 8 hydroelectric plant in East Montpelier.

Richard's Policy Statement - click here

2022 Elected Directors
Susan Alexander

Susan Alexander

Cabot, VT
mullandmor@gmail.com
802.563.3259

Elected to WEC Board May 2022

Despite reading Currents for decades and having seen vacancies on the Board come and go, I only now find myself at that perfect intersection of time, opportunity, and interest to support WEC as a board member. I welcome the challenge of becoming fluent in the world of electricity and utility regulation while bringing my own toolbox of skills and knowledge in continuing a solid path forward, maintaining the excellent service members expect, and supporting the organization and its leadership. In the years that I have been a member, I have seen WEC grow, change, succeed, and lead largely due to the cooperative model of customer engagement and support. I consider WECs renewable energy portfolio as a source of community well-being knowing there is stewardship and sustainability underpinning our energy choices that fuel our daily activities. Working within my community to improve our overall health and well-being is a basic tenet of mine. Clean and affordable energy options are good for us in Vermont and for the planet and that is something I want to be a part of. Given the recent changes in both the staff and on the board makes applying for this vacancy that much more appealing to be able to learn and grow with these new professionals in the next leg of WECs history.  
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Betsy Allen

Plainfield, VT
betsallen@gmail.com
802.535.7088

Elected to WEC Board May 2022

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.

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Steven Farnham

Plainfield, VT
Steven4WEC@gmail.com
802.917.2581

Re-elected to WEC Board May 2022

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.