Co-ops to adjust to new governance law

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and the other Co-Ops in South Carolina are under a new governance law, and a Blue Ridge spokesman says the law is going to mean greater transparency for consumers. Governor McMaster’s signature signed the governance bill into law during a ceremony on May 17. The legislature decided to write new rules after abuses came to light in a cooperative based in St. Matthews. Consumers perhaps will notice the biggest change in the process that selects the board of directors that decide Co-Op policy. Blue Ridge’s Terry Ballenger says all of the Co-Ops are going to open up further the opportunities for consumers to elect their representatives. In the case of Blue Ridge, board nominees selected at district meetings are voted on at the annual membership meeting. But, starting next year, Ballenger says, Blue Ridge will allow members to cast ballots at the Oconee and Pickens offices “a day or two before the annual meeting.” Consumers will be free also to cast their ballots at the annual meeting in Pickens. Part of the new law is a provision providing for limited state oversight, which means that the Office of Regulatory Staff may audit a co-op on a periodic basis. In another move toward greater transparency, Blue Ridge on its website will publish the agendas for the monthly meetings of its nine-member board of directors, along with financial information of the organization.