The positions and statements listed below are those of Gary Newman

This spring of 2018, I am a candidate for re-election, having served one term on the GVEA Board of Directors. My positions haven’t changed a lot in the last three years, but I have been fully engaged in doing the business of GVEA. It’s been an honor to serve the members and I’ve tried to live up to the responsibilities.

I believe in giving to my community, particularly where the need was demonstrated and I had the expertise. Passions are transparency and engagement, promoting and implementing sustainable and practical energy policies and common sense. GVEA provides an essential service to Interior Alaska. With integrity and sincerity, and as one of seven board directors, I pledge to help GVEA be the electrical cooperative that meets the needs of its members with excellence.

Ballots to District 4 will be going out in the mail May 11 and due June 9. The on-line voting will be open May 11 at noon.

Annual Meeting
The 2018 Annual Membership Meeting is Thursday, May 3 at Hering Auditorium. 5:30 pm registration, meeting starts at 6:30 pm. I served as the Annual Meeting Committee chair for the past two years and have been working with the committee to encourage more attendance. At the end of the meeting, we’ll be giving out a special prize to each member. We also give out several large sum credits toward one’s electric bill. Displays and a booth for each director candidate for Districts 4 and 7. Hope to see and chat with you.

Member Engagement
GVEA is not-for-profit cooperative organization. we are owned by our members and any margins over cost (profit) goes back to the members, last Dec $7 million. I want GVEA members and the company to be able to communicate two-way to the extent that members want to be engaged in their cooperative, not just the ‘electric company.’ It will help us be a better company. I proposed some opportunities to the board in 2012, some of which have been implemented.

GVEA is making a considerable effort to update our use of technology for the 21st century. Replacing our SCADA control system, installing a functional outage management system and AMI (smart) meters this year, a mobile app and a phone system that can handle some services 24-7, we have only just begun to capitalize on the opportunities technology can bring. I have advocated for this for many years so we can do things like Peak Notification. We could communicate to members to short term efforts to reduce usage when we are at a peak usage when expensive generation would be needed. We might also provide visibility to the amount of electricity is being used to a member through an app or an in-home display.

It is stressed in discussions at conferences and in GVEA’s vision to be transparent with members. There is a lot that justifiable doesn’t need to be disclosed, but we need to be open where we can. Two years ago, I advocated we post our board policies on the website. After discussion, the board decided to go through them for updates one by one before doing so. We might be 2/3 of the way through them. Maybe we have too many policies?

For as long as we have had mailed ballots for director elections, the return ballots have had the requirement of a member’s signature on the outside envelope. Between 10-12% of ballots were rejected at each election. This was not advertised or noted to the Election Committee who count the ballots. I happened to catch a side-remark about this some years ago and couldn’t find any justification for the signature, particularly since they were never checked. Once on the board, as a member of the Bylaws Committee, I was able to get the committee and ultimately GVEA members to approve a bylaw change to make it clear no signature was needed. At last, those 10-12% of those members who took the time to send in what is a complicated vote won’t be disenfranchised! Mission accomplished.

Right of Way Clearing
We are all aware that extreme weather events have led to trees falling on power lines. Rights of way are typically 30′ wide. GVEA had a goal of a 7 year rotation for clearing those rights of way. I’d been paying attention with a windstorm Nov. 2013 and again the following spring. October 2015 I asked management if they were keeping up and they thought they were. I researched past reports and found that we weren’t in fact keeping up. Management stepped up the effort, as did the board in subsequent budget cycles, but it hasn’t been enough. GVEA now has a goal of a 5 year rotation, to get on track within the next 5 years.

In fairness to GVEA, many of the trees falling on lines are outside the rights of way, essentially on private property. On top of climate/weather disruptions, our trees are stressed with a warming and changing biome, thus more susceptible and weakened. That is a bigger issue than clearing rights of way.

More on this can be found here.

Past positions prior to my time as a board director can be found at posted under “Common Sense”.

I’ve provided regular updates about GVEA Board activities on my Facebook page. You are welcome to view it or Like the page to add to your feed.


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