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Old 04-01-2024, 08:28 AM   #1
Leo Dwyer
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Post NH Electric Co-op - Good Governance Petition

Four years ago, many Winni Forum members signed a petition that nudged the NH Electric Co-op into the broadband business – a widely recognized victory that is bringing high-speed internet to more and more Co-op members every day. Now I write to ask your help in an equally important cause: Improving the governance of your Co-op.

Your signature on this petition before Friday, April 12 will ensure that Co-op members can weigh in on a much-needed bylaws change that will increase the effectiveness of the NHEC board as it tackles important decisions affecting your electric rates as well as the success of the new broadband venture.

Keep in mind this fact: NHEC is the only utility not regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission. Instead, the Co-op is self-regulated by your elected representatives – the NHEC Board of Directors.

I have served as an NHEC director for seven years and was one of the principal advocates for the company’s broadband venture. I helped get $65 million in grant money and worked with others to get New Hampshire Broadband off the ground.

However, I, and other directors, have sometimes been frustrated by obstacles encountered in gaining access to review business records, contracts, and even communications with the attorney hired to advise the Co-op. When information is provided, it is sometimes restricted in an unsearchable format, viewable only in a specific office location for a short time window.

The NHEC board can exercise its oversight on behalf of members only if it can ask informed questions about the company’s decisions and operations. But surprisingly, there is currently nothing in the NHEC Bylaws that guarantees directors access to the Co-op’s books and records.

The proposed bylaws change remedies that defect and guarantees that access.

We need 300 Co-op members to endorse this petition to get the proposed change placed on this year’s ballot which goes out in the second half of May. Just as in the broadband initiative of 2020, your participation matters. So please act now before this opportunity slips away.

Just click on this link and add your name and service address. It won’t even take a minute.

Thanks for your consideration and indispensable help.

Regards

Leo Dwyer
Sandwich, NH
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Old 04-01-2024, 10:04 AM   #2
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In my opinion, the NHEC is one of the most NON TRANSPARENT organizations in NH that boasts about being operated for its members. Budgets, operational costs, actuals costs incurred are all hidden from the "MEMBERS". Board of Director meetings lack any public disclosure of meeting specifics and board packet materials. Just look at their very poor on-line agendas. NHEC should never been deregulated by NH. NHEC management goes out of their way to prevent disclosure of information. Power disruptions are not the only thing that NHEC has that keeps members in the dark. Good for Mr. Dwyer to force more disclosure. I encourage all members to support his initiative. And while Moultonborough is the largest town in the NHEC territory (7% of customers), the town apparently is not even on the list for NHEC cable. Instead, a commercial business, FIDIUM, is already at work all over the town and their pricing appears better than NHEC. So goodbye to a potential NHEC installed cable base, as it is being stolen right under their noses by a better business model. So much for NHEC working for their "members". Just my opinion....
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Old 04-01-2024, 01:03 PM   #3
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Was the NHEC ever regulated by the State?
I know publicly-traded utilities are.
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Old 04-01-2024, 04:11 PM   #4
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Default Please sign the NHEC petition - let the sunshine in

I could not agree more that we need NHEC to be more transparent. I hope everyone who is a NHEC member will take the one minute to sign the petition(see the link in Leo Dwyer's letter above) and then vote in favor of the amendment later this spring.
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Old 04-01-2024, 06:13 PM   #5
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Default NH Electric Co-op - Good Governance Petition

Done. And web link for those on the Winni iPad app:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...&c=0&w=1&flr=0



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Old 04-02-2024, 10:13 AM   #6
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Default NH Electric Co-op - Good Governance Petition

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Originally Posted by John Mercier View Post
Was the NHEC ever regulated by the State?

I know publicly-traded utilities are.
No. NHEC is privately owned by its members and is not, & to the best of my knowledge, has never been publicly traded.


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Old 04-02-2024, 10:57 AM   #7
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I was wondering if it ever fell under the PUC regulatory board.

Tummyman suggested that it had and was now deregulated...
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Old 04-02-2024, 11:44 AM   #8
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From NH Dept.of Energy...

The Department of Energy and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission regulate the services and rates of electric utilities.

Four electric distribution companies operate in New Hampshire, each serving a mutually exclusive franchise territory. They include Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy (Eversource), Liberty Utilities (Granite State Electric) Corp. d/b/a Liberty Utilities (Liberty) Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. (UES) and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NHEC). NHEC, a rural electric cooperative for which a certificate of deregulation is on file with the Commission, is not considered a public utility, but it must comply with certain laws and rules applicable to the other three electric distribution companies.
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Old 04-02-2024, 11:48 AM   #9
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And here is the link to the actual agreement between NHEC and NH PUC.

https://www.puc.nh.gov/regulatory/Or...ers/25645e.pdf
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Old 04-02-2024, 01:56 PM   #10
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I just didn't know the history.

I wonder why they thought it a good idea?

My understanding is that based on your location, you can't opt for a different transmission company.
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Old 04-02-2024, 06:15 PM   #11
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Default Wolfeboro Electric

From whom does Wolfeboro Electric purchase their electricity. They are not mentioned as one of the four suppliers in Tummyman's post.
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Old 04-02-2024, 06:45 PM   #12
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Tummyman posted the owners of the transmission lines.
Suppliers of the actual electricity are completely different.

Even Eversource does not supply the electricity, it just transmits it from the generator to the consumer.
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Old 04-03-2024, 04:26 AM   #13
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From whom does Wolfeboro Electric purchase their electricity. They are not mentioned as one of the four suppliers in Tummyman's post.
I'm pretty sure it's Eversource (Public Service). They usually get a multi year contract. They used to generate their own power back in the day. The power plant is on Lehner St.
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Old 04-04-2024, 07:48 PM   #14
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Got an e-mail today that they still need 100 signatures on the NHEC Good Governance Petition.


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Old 04-05-2024, 08:03 AM   #15
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Default URGENT - The Real BigGuy is right

We are still looking for 100 more members to sign on to insure the question gets on the ballot. So please Sign Here.

Also, as to the question as to why NHEC is not "regulated" by the PUC the theory is that a Coop is "Self Governed" as the members vote for a board of directors (folks like me) who are the defacto regulators. Given that, I trust you can see the importance of directors having open access to the books and records.

Thanks for supporting this ballot initiative.
Cheers
Leo
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Old 05-20-2024, 08:09 PM   #16
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As I understand it, voting opened but I didn't receive anything to vote nor do I see anything on how to vote - does anyone have any insight into the process?
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Old 05-21-2024, 03:54 AM   #17
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As I understand it, voting opened but I didn't receive anything to vote nor do I see anything on how to vote - does anyone have any insight into the process?
I received an email this morning with a link to voting.

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Old 05-21-2024, 08:25 AM   #18
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Hey Leo,

PM me a contact number or email if you don't mind. I've been a customer for over 20 years and just had an issue with billing. I think NHEC needs a little work on their autopay system and would like to talk to someone about it, and maybe a little customer service tune up too.
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Old 05-21-2024, 10:09 AM   #19
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I received an email this morning with a link to voting.
Same here. Also, if you have a SmartHub account you can log in there and find a link to voting.

The current directors, by a 6 to 5 vote, recommended a NO vote. It would have been useful to see who those 6 were as a guide to electing directors.

Alan
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Old 05-21-2024, 07:46 PM   #20
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Kinda crazy to have a Board that is not able to access information. I signed
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Old 05-28-2024, 12:24 PM   #21
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Kinda crazy to have a Board that is not able to access information. I signed
You can pretty safely disregard Mr. Dwyer’s FUD about the information access initiative. Like all board members, he already has access to all information other than personnel files. His beef (I think?) is that it is not as convenient as he would like it to be. There are certain types of records which the cooperative requires board members (and staff) to only access either on premises and/or on a secure device. Mr. Dwyer wishes to lift those restrictions for his own convenience, while simultaneously trying to paint the other board members and professional staff as some sort of unreasonable gatekeepers hiding the secrets from his prying eyes.

The fact of the matter is that it’s just a long-standing board policy (similar to policies at other large organizations with sensitive information — not that Mr. Dwyer has any experience working at large organizations or utilities, but I digress) that has been on the books at NHEC for nearly 40 years, and was actually re-affirmed last year in a unanimous board vote. Yes, Mr. Dwyer was one of those voting in the affirmative.

This is all just a bunch of half-baked politicking in an election year. Who could possibly say no to board members having nearly unrestricted access to coop information?? Before putting your private information at risk so that Mr. Dwyer can “ask informed questions,” carefully consider your vote.
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Old 05-28-2024, 07:55 PM   #22
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You can pretty safely disregard Mr. Dwyer’s FUD about the information access initiative. Like all board members, he already has access to all information other than personnel files. His beef (I think?) is that it is not as convenient as he would like it to be. There are certain types of records which the cooperative requires board members (and staff) to only access either on premises and/or on a secure device. Mr. Dwyer wishes to lift those restrictions for his own convenience, while simultaneously trying to paint the other board members and professional staff as some sort of unreasonable gatekeepers hiding the secrets from his prying eyes.

The fact of the matter is that it’s just a long-standing board policy (similar to policies at other large organizations with sensitive information — not that Mr. Dwyer has any experience working at large organizations or utilities, but I digress) that has been on the books at NHEC for nearly 40 years, and was actually re-affirmed last year in a unanimous board vote. Yes, Mr. Dwyer was one of those voting in the affirmative.

This is all just a bunch of half-baked politicking in an election year. Who could possibly say no to board members having nearly unrestricted access to coop information?? Before putting your private information at risk so that Mr. Dwyer can “ask informed questions,” carefully consider your vote.
A good debate, I wish we could continue over cocktails

A dilemma for those of us trying to understand from a distance is that Mr Dwyer has made his assertions under his own name, and it appears from the NHEC website that neither management nor other Board members have contradicted him on the basic point that he has been denied important information. The site notes that the Board does not support adoption, but offers no reasoning. Please correct me if I'm wrong here. Thanks
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Old 05-28-2024, 08:57 PM   #23
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A good debate, I wish we could continue over cocktails

A dilemma for those of us trying to understand from a distance is that Mr Dwyer has made his assertions under his own name, and it appears from the NHEC website that neither management nor other Board members have contradicted him on the basic point that he has been denied important information. The site notes that the Board does not support adoption, but offers no reasoning. Please correct me if I'm wrong here. Thanks
The board chair publicly refuted Mr. Dwyer’s claims here, though without noting any specific requests: https://www.laconiadailysun.com/opin...7376e42a7.html

Then today in the same publication, Mr. Dwyer responded (vaguely) by referencing “energy contracts that make up more than half of our members’ monthly bills, documents for review of legal services, and even the resume of a vice president.”

It’s hard to read into much of that without more specifics. Documents about legal services, even just the billing, can be pretty darn sensitive, especially if those legal services are for litigation, settling a personnel matter, etc. We just don’t know for sure.

His request for a resume of a vice president seems a little out of bounds though. The board only has one employee: the CEO. No other employees are in their purview, and this just seems to cross a line. I would have refused that request, too, as personnel files are not accessible to the board. This is true at most corporations with a similar board/management structure.

Without specifics, I cannot support this amendment. I’m not willing to open that can of unknowns, and nor should anyone else.
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Old 05-29-2024, 09:40 AM   #24
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Default NHEC Bylaw Amendment & Vote

Amy, you fail to point out that the previous board chair, Jeff Morrill, cosigned the 5/28 letter in the Laconia Daily Sun. In fact, five of the current board members agree with me that the Bylaw amendment which guarantees directors access to information is a good idea.

As for specifics, NHEC spends on the order of $70 million purchasing power each year. Getting access to read power purchase contracts has been like pulling teeth. I tried six years ago and was shut down. Recently a director took up that mission and was faced with resistance and I don’t think to date he has gotten what he is after in a manner that makes it easily digestible. Mind you, if NHEC were a for profit utility, the analogous documents would all be readily accessible to the Public Utility Commissioners who provide regulatory oversight. At NHEC it is the directors who supply that oversight, so they need access to the same information as PUC Commissioners.

As for the resume, it wasn’t for an employee, it was for a candidate who was potentially going to be given great responsibility in the organization. You are correct that the board only has one employee – the CEO – but looking at the qualifications of the team the CEO is pulling together helps a director judge the performance of the CEO. Note that the bylaw amendment excludes director access to personnel files and requires that a minimum of three directors join in making an information request. Seems reasonable to me.

As for billing for legal services, NHEC spends a lot of money on lawyers. Legal services are provided in support of both board and management. Directors should have access to scrutinize those bills. Of course, some of the information is sensitive, but directors have the same, or perhaps higher, duty of confidentiality than employees.

Members elect the directors to oversee the management of the business. If you want a board of directors that just nods and votes yes on every proposal put in front of them without question, then don’t vote for the amendment and don’t vote for me.

But if you want to ensure that directors have access to the information needed to look after your interests and that those directors are motivated to ask questions, I suggest you vote YES for the amendment for and check the box for Stringham, Morrill, and Dwyer (that’s me) the only three candidates (out of nine) who support the amendment.

You can vote online at NHEC's SmartHub HERE or look for a paper ballot in yesterdays’ (5/28) US Mail. I attach a Sample Ballot including pro and con statements regarding the bylaw amendment.

Leo Dwyer
Sandwich

PS – I note that Amy Anna is from Sandwich and just joined the Forum last week. I know most of the folks in town and never happened upon her acquaintance. I’d be happy to catch up and chat for a coffee at the Foothills Café and welcome her to town – that is if Amy is a real person and not disguising their true identity for some reason.
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Old 05-29-2024, 11:49 AM   #25
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Maybe it is time to reverse the deregulation of NHEC. As a "member", we are also kept in the dark on everything. No detailed budgets, no detailed actual expenditures other than a scant few inches on their annual report card to members. Board of Directors does not respond to member issues. Agendas for board meetings are written like elementary school exercises. Minutes of meetings are brief with no supporting information. The only thing that really works in NHEC are the line crews that maintain the power. They are fabulous. I am also suspicious of the OP.
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Old 05-29-2024, 03:01 PM   #26
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From what I hear locally.

Most want the government out of most everything.

Are these same people now wanting the government to control/access/regulate this entity ?
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Old 05-29-2024, 04:04 PM   #27
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From what I hear locally.

Most want the government out of most everything.

Are these same people now wanting the government to control/access/regulate this entity ?
If you look at what these "regulated" companies charge for electricity, it's pretty easy to assume falling under the regulator's purview would not be good for our pocketbooks.

Boards provide oversite of CEOs and management actions. We are fortunate in that our cooperative can democratically influence the composition of the board, more so than share holders of a publicly held company.

I tend to agree with Leo, in that board members, especially in a co-op should have unfettered access to all information. Especially things such as purchase negotiations and contracts.

We are not developing space craft, rocket engines, AI or other things here. We are buying power from producers and selling it to ourselves. I can't fathom what "sensitive" information is. Customer info, such as ID and phone numbers can be easily assembled from address info readily available in the public realm. So that can't be it.

The funny thing here is that some of the biggest tech companies are open sourcing their intellectual property.

Open the records up to the board.
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Old 05-29-2024, 06:03 PM   #28
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If you look at what these "regulated" companies charge for electricity, it's pretty easy to assume falling under the regulator's purview would not be good for our pocketbooks.

Boards provide oversite of CEOs and management actions. We are fortunate in that our cooperative can democratically influence the composition of the board, more so than share holders of a publicly held company.

I tend to agree with Leo, in that board members, especially in a co-op should have unfettered access to all information. Especially things such as purchase negotiations and contracts.

We are not developing space craft, rocket engines, AI or other things here. We are buying power from producers and selling it to ourselves. I can't fathom what "sensitive" information is. Customer info, such as ID and phone numbers can be easily assembled from address info readily available in the public realm. So that can't be it.

The funny thing here is that some of the biggest tech companies are open sourcing their intellectual property.

Open the records up to the board.
This is so uninformed and dangerous that it doesn’t merit a response beyond this. Go do some research on the dangers of mishandling of personally identifiable information (PII) and come back and do a report for the class. Also, utilities are a vital part of our public infrastructure, not some hobby. Let me know when AI does something other than confidently lie to me.
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Old 05-29-2024, 06:23 PM   #29
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Amy, you fail to point out that the previous board chair, Jeff Morrill, cosigned the 5/28 letter in the Laconia Daily Sun. In fact, five of the current board members agree with me that the Bylaw amendment which guarantees directors access to information is a good idea.

As for specifics, NHEC spends on the order of $70 million purchasing power each year. Getting access to read power purchase contracts has been like pulling teeth. I tried six years ago and was shut down. Recently a director took up that mission and was faced with resistance and I don’t think to date he has gotten what he is after in a manner that makes it easily digestible. Mind you, if NHEC were a for profit utility, the analogous documents would all be readily accessible to the Public Utility Commissioners who provide regulatory oversight. At NHEC it is the directors who supply that oversight, so they need access to the same information as PUC Commissioners.

As for the resume, it wasn’t for an employee, it was for a candidate who was potentially going to be given great responsibility in the organization. You are correct that the board only has one employee – the CEO – but looking at the qualifications of the team the CEO is pulling together helps a director judge the performance of the CEO. Note that the bylaw amendment excludes director access to personnel files and requires that a minimum of three directors join in making an information request. Seems reasonable to me.

As for billing for legal services, NHEC spends a lot of money on lawyers. Legal services are provided in support of both board and management. Directors should have access to scrutinize those bills. Of course, some of the information is sensitive, but directors have the same, or perhaps higher, duty of confidentiality than employees.

Members elect the directors to oversee the management of the business. If you want a board of directors that just nods and votes yes on every proposal put in front of them without question, then don’t vote for the amendment and don’t vote for me.

But if you want to ensure that directors have access to the information needed to look after your interests and that those directors are motivated to ask questions, I suggest you vote YES for the amendment for and check the box for Stringham, Morrill, and Dwyer (that’s me) the only three candidates (out of nine) who support the amendment.

You can vote online at NHEC's SmartHub HERE or look for a paper ballot in yesterdays’ (5/28) US Mail. I attach a Sample Ballot including pro and con statements regarding the bylaw amendment.

Leo Dwyer
Sandwich

PS – I note that Amy Anna is from Sandwich and just joined the Forum last week. I know most of the folks in town and never happened upon her acquaintance. I’d be happy to catch up and chat for a coffee at the Foothills Café and welcome her to town – that is if Amy is a real person and not disguising their true identity for some reason.
What I’m reading here is that you think your job is to do some forensic accounting. Not sure that’s really in the board’s job description? If you want to change day jobs, by all means feel free, but I think at a vital electric utility your resume isn’t exactly fitting that bill. You just seem like you want to create a bunch of busywork for the rest of the board, none of which will amount to anything actionable. I’m not willing to alter the bylaws just so you have an evening hobby after you wrap up bingo. None of this is worth the risk, especially with the minimal vetting that seems to occur with board members.

Also: you want resumes for people even before they are hired? Again, waaaayy beyond the purview of what is appropriate at any organization with this structure. Your job is to evaluate the CEO and the overall performance of the cooperative — not the individual members of the staff.

Board members do not have a higher duty of confidentiality than staff. Remember, some are paid professionals, some are elected part-timers. You all sign the same confidentiality agreements. Let’s keep that inflated sense of self in check.

I want a board that does what is within their purview. If you want to be a part of managing the day-to-day of an electric utility, then you should apply for the next opening. Maybe then the board can vet your resume; maybe even interrogate your references. Wouldn’t want to make a bad hire!

PS: I am in Sandwich, but you do not know everyone. You’re an elected public figure, while I am not. Grow up.
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Old 05-30-2024, 03:23 PM   #30
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Default Now…..take a deep breath, Amy

Amy, Amy, Amy…….you need to calm down! The super- charged animosity you are displaying is not good for your blood pressure! Additionally, you are being very rude to my forum friends. As a new forum member, you need to show some respect.
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Old 05-30-2024, 05:18 PM   #31
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Default with all the things going sideways in the world...

I find it awfully hard to get all worked up about the leadership of the local electric company... Or is it just me?
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Old 05-30-2024, 05:40 PM   #32
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After all, the directors are each earning over $20,000 to not have the information they need. And don't ever expect them to ever get back to you if you make a complaint to them or have an issue. Nope, never going to happen.
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Old 05-30-2024, 08:31 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy.Anna View Post
This is so uninformed and dangerous that it doesn’t merit a response beyond this. Go do some research on the dangers of mishandling of personally identifiable information (PII) and come back and do a report for the class. Also, utilities are a vital part of our public infrastructure, not some hobby. Let me know when AI does something other than confidently lie to me.
Amy, NHECs customers are readily identifiable by their location (NHEC's territory) and easily obtainable public records via tax records, GIS maps, and for a determined person, companies that will tell you almost everything you want to know about a customer based on their address.

It is ridiculous that board members are denied access to any information concerning the company they are governing.

Of course, your point about personal customer information is an obvious canard, a distraction, I seriously doubt any board member is interested in customer info, beyond usage and revenue.

The issue that Leo brings up is denial of access to purchase contracts and financial information. That is absolutely within the purview of a board member and honestly is negligent if the board doesn't regularly review this information and delve into the information that is used to put financial reports together. If there is question about a contract, or "sensitive" legal negotiations, the board should be in the loop and making suggestions, not cast aside and ridiculed for their efforts. The board is elected by the COOP members as our eyes and ears, shutting them out is shutting the COOP members out.

Your concern about board members having access to this information is.... well, concerning.
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