Electric coop listens to comments, discontinues weatherization

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The Aug. 29 Socorro County Electric Cooperative board of trustees meeting began with contention.

Board member Charles Wagner asked an item be removed from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. He said the item, consideration and approval of District 1 members names to be released, is in the co-op by-laws and therefore should not be up for consideration as an agenda item.

Board Chairman Paul Bustamante said discussion over the item, Item XI on the agenda, would be held at the appropriate time during the meeting.

Gayl Dorr, during the public comment segment of the meeting, asked for clarification. Dorr is running for the District 4 co-op board seat and said she was told she would have to wait until after the filing date of Sept. 6, before she could get a list of names of people in the district. She asked if she would get the names on Sept. 6 or had to wait for a board vote.

Also during public comment co-op member-owner Steve Jones of District 1 said he had a call from someone claiming to be conducting a survey on behalf of the co-op and wanted to know if it was a legitimate survey. Bustamante responded that a survey is in progress and has been announced on the cooperative’s web site.

Next in public comment, Charlene West said she feels most people don’t know what co-op district they are in and she would like to see districts included in the electric bills.

“Districts were recently changed,” West said. “There has been no notice as to what district they are in. I think we have to be straight forward.”

Trustee Donald Wolberg responded by saying members can easily find out what district they are in by looking at a district map available at the co-op office.

“Anybody who has a question of where they live can give me a call,” Wolberg said.

The board then approved a meeting change, making the next board of trustees meeting 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Then the board discussed the weatherization program the co-op has had in place. Co-op manager Joseph Herrera reported loans for the weatherization program are not being repaid in a timely manner and people who signed up for the program owe a total of $56,000 to the co-op.

The board voted to discontinue the program pending collection attempts.

Voting “nay” on the closure of the program, Wagner said he doesn’t think because of a few who didn’t pay the whole program should be discontinued.

Wolberg pointed out there are other entities, federal and state, who have weatherization programs available.

Then Item XI on the agenda was up and the board discussed the approval of releasing District 1 members’ names as per Dorr’s request. Wagner said it is the law and in the co-op’s bylaws voting lists should be released if they are requested.

Wagner made a motion to strike the item from the agenda.

Then, when Bustamante stated Wagner’s motion failed for lack of a second, Wagner said he seconded it for himself, saying as a representative of both District 2 and District 5, he could do that.

“This is ridiculous,” Bustamante said.

Co-op Attorney Bruce Wiggins said the person requesting the voters’ names did not state the reason for the request and therefore it couldn’t be granted at the current meeting.

The item was removed from the agenda.

Throughout the meeting, because Wolberg continued to comment on Wagner’s statements, Wagner referred to Wolberg as “the mouse” in Bustamante’s pocket.

Before the meeting was over Wolberg called Wagner both an “ass” and a “rat.”

For more on the Aug. 29, SEC meeting, please see the Wednesday, Sept. 5, edition of El Defensor Chieftain.