To the Editor:
What’s happening to your electric co-operative?
Members (and therefore, owners) of Carroll Electric Co-operative these days have got to be wondering what is taking place at the company they are a part of. What used to be a locally owned and operated company has become more like an investor-owned entity with each passing day. More and more, qualified competent local people are being released and replaced by people and companies that have no ties whatsoever to the local community. The present CEO of Carroll Electric repeatedly says in the local pages of the co-operative’s magazine “they are looking out for you.” But, if that were the case, then why do we continue to see local people ousted who perform their functions with the utmost quality?
The board at Carroll Electric is supposed to be the democratic voice of the consumers who elect them to their positions. But does this “democratic ideal” even exist anymore? Think about the following: Employees and contractors alike for the past few years have been threatened with termination of employment if it was to be discovered they talked to board members about operations at Carroll Electric. At Carroll Electric’s annual meeting, consumers were told if they wanted to ask a question, they would have to submit the question to the board manager in advance and they would then be informed if they could ask the question. This cannot be taken for anything less than censorship. These types of actions are about as far away from democratic as a person can get. The board appears to be bullied into giving complete control over to management so management can perform functions to make decisions based solely on what they want, whether or not it is for the good of the company and community.
If management at Carroll Electric is truly “looking out for you”, why has the decision been made to increase the consumers’ service availability charge beginning in May? Think about this: A consumer can do everything in their power to decrease their electric bill by cutting back on the amount of energy they use, but they still have to pay more because of this charge. Most consumers have learned to cut back on their expenses in these tough economic times. Has management at their company learned to do the same? Has management agreed to a wage freeze or taken a cut in their salaries? Have they and the board elected to forego any perks to save? Why should the owners of the company cut back if management is not willing to do the same? What kind of benefits does the local community get by hiring in contractors from out of state manned with foreign labor? The management tells consumers this was done to save money and get increased production accomplished. But there is a huge difference between production and quality production. As large numbers of “miles of line cleared” are turned in by these companies, it may appear the Co-op is saving vast amounts of money. But if care is not taken to clear lines properly, outages will occur in the future, decreasing revenue. So pennies saved today could turn into dollars lost tomorrow. If proper standards are not performed by this aggressive clearing approach, consumers have got to start to question why a locally-owned and operated business was terminated after 25 years of service, especially since they were repeatedly told they submitted the “best work ever seen.” Why would a 22-year employee be suddenly removed from the company after doing a tremendous job?
If consumers want answers to these kind of questions, they should ask their board members to tell them. If the board refuses, they should be replaced with trustees who will remember they have a duty to listen and address concerns of their fellow consumers. Otherwise, there can be vast amounts of money saved by eliminating the board altogether and allowing the solely-controlled empire to continue to take shape.
The present management at Carroll Electric is quick to either spend capital or save money in response to short-term solutions. These solutions may look good on paper for the present year. But if these decisions end up costing valuable resources and capital in the future, were the decisions that were made proper? It does no good to save a penny today only to spend a dollar tomorrow. Maybe there are present employees working at Carroll Electric who are not concerned with what happens in the future. But the members who live, work and plan to remain in this community should be. Good relations with prominent, large companies that are going to have a huge impact on the local economy have already been tarnished. Entities that used to work closely with Carroll Electric for mutual benefit, including highway departments, have been disrespected. Strained relations with these organizations will create a serious hardship for operations in the future.
Co-op members should be concerned with the direction things are progressing and they should wonder if Carroll Electric is truly “looking out for you.”