updated Nov. 30, 2018
I chaired the Annual Meeting Committee meeting this week. Amongst other logistics, we went over options for increasing attendance. We did have an increase last year as well as doing live streaming and participation from our Delta and Healy folks. We are likely to expand some of the prize returns for participation in our upcoming web/mobile portal. The board should approve the recommendation at our January 2019 regular board meeting. The annual meeting will be Thursday May 2, 2019 at Hering Auditorium 5-6:30 pm registration and booth sampling, plus candidates for District 5 (North Pole) and District 6 (Delta) to chat with.
updated March 20, 2018
GVEA holds an annual membership meeting in early May. This meeting is required by our bylaws and is typical of organizations like ours. I think it has been good to gain a presence in the minds of our member-owners – those who buy electricity from GVEA.
I have heard from others that the business-oriented annual meeting has been better received than the flashy style entertainment meetings typical under the prior CEO Brian Newton.
We know what drives turnout: a registration bonus. In most past years, it has been $15 or some sort of energy saving device like a fluorescent or LED bulb, a Kill A Watt electrical measuring device, touch desk lamps, smart surge strips. With this bonus, signups were around 1,200 people. One year the signup bonus was raised to $25 and 2,000 members registered.
In 2014 and again in 2015, the annual meeting registration bonus was ended to save on the cost of the annual meeting. As a result, registered members dropped to 398 and 329 respectively, roughly a 70% drop. The response from the administration thus far has been to look to asking the members to drop the quorum requirement of what is now 650 in the bylaws.
There have been quorum problems in the past. I’ve found that true as far back as the 1966 annual meeting minutes. We solved the problem of quorum by offering a registration bonus.
Now, it is true that offering a $15 bonus for 1,000 people costs the utility $15,000. Not total chump change and for an annual meeting that otherwise costs $50,000, seems significant. But we are a member owned utility that spends money on lots of other optional things, so we need to weigh the value of having members engaged by at least coming to an annual meeting to register and having an exposure to their cooperative. We have 35,000 members and it’s hard to get their attention short of rate increases.
The members approved a bylaw change to require only 200 members for a quorum two years ago. The past few years we have been hovering around 300 attendees. We now meet quorum, but even with that change, the board has indicated support for increasing turnout. I believe we have more ways to engage our members that remain untapped and continue to advocate for the betterment of our cooperative.