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Sparse Turnout Falls Short of Quorum For 67th Annual GVEA Members Meeting

Tim Ellis/KUAC

Unlike the big crowds of the past two years, the turnout was relatively sparse at Golden Valley Electric Association’s annual members meeting Wednesday night in Fairbanks.

Just under 400 GVEA members showed up for the 67th  annual meeting at the Carlson Center, well short of the 650 required for a quorum. So, for the first time in recent memory, the meeting was not officially convened.

GVEA officials admitted the co-op’s cost-cutting decision to forego the usual incentives to encourage members to show up this year caused the lame turnout. Previous years’ incentives included a $15 discount on members’ monthly bills, along with raffles and rides for the kids in cherry-picker trucks.

Less than 10 people stood in line to speak to the co-op’s board and management during the call to the public. But those who did, like Ben Stewart of Fairbanks, say they didn’t much like this year’s stripped-down meeting.

“This is really sad that we can’t hold a quorum here, Stewart said. “With the amount of membership we have, from Cantwell north, Delta and Fairbanks area. This is ridiculous.”

Sara Burley of North Pole says the lack of fun things for kids will discourage families from bringing them – and will turn away GVEA’s future customers.

“I’m begging the committee to think about the next generation and not just us – to get those kids here, to get them peddling the bike, to get them riding in the boom trucks,” Burley said. “ It’s worth the money. If you have to have it at Alaskaland, or a gravel pit to save money – give them hotdogs, and let the kids come.

GVEA President and CEO Cory Borgeson says co-op’s membership meeting committee may well reconsider the cutbacks to get members interesting in attending next year’s meeting. He said in an interview after the meeting that board members and management was able to give most of the information they’d hoped to pass along, except for an account of last year’s meeting.

“An annual meeting for corporation, even for a cooperative, is to really provide reports on the status of the company, Borgeson said. “And that’s what we were able to do, even though we could not get a quorum. So the only business that didn’t get passed was the adoption and approval of the minutes for last year’s meeting.”

Borgeson says the board will approve those minutes during next year’s meeting.

The reports to members included a generally upbeat assessment of the utility’s finances and an overview of challenges it faces over the next few years.

Those include what he termed a “modest” rate hike to pay for increased fuel costs resulting from the closure of the Flint Hills refinery later this month – more on that later in this newscast.

He told members that the rate hike may well go away once the coal-fired Healy 2 powerplant begins operating late next year – followed a couple years later by the trucking of natural gas from the North Slope to fuel power generation.

Co-op members also heard an update on elections for three seats on the board. The outcome of those races will be announced June 12.