PEC board approves $111 million improvement plan

JOHNSON CITY — A $111 million capital improvement plan approved by Pedernales Electric Cooperative directors Monday will include a new substation, transmission lines and improvements to co-op facilities.

The board at their March meeting in Johnson City also created a new committee to investigate compensation for the co-op’s directors and top executives.

The multimillion-dollar improvement plan is a $22 million decrease over the 2009 plan, and will include improvements mandated by state agencies, according to PEC Engineering Manager Robert Peterson.

“We’ve taken a hard look a the electric system and weeded out a lot of the projects that simply don’t need to be done,” he said. “What we have left is a very good plan for the expansion of the system.”

PEC spent $141 million on capital improvements in 2008 and about $134 million in 2009, officials said. The next capital plan, set for 2013, is expected to cost about $61 million.

Also on Monday, directors assigned Board President Larry Landaker, District 7 Director Patrick Cox, Vice President Cristi Clement and District 5 Director R.B. Felps to a new committee formed to investigate pay for board members and top executives.

PEC came under fire in 2007 after it was revealed some board members took home more than $40,000 per year for just a few hours of work each week.

Currently, board members earn a $1,500 flat rate per month, in addition to $750 for full board meetings and $500 for committee meetings. Those amounts were set in 2008 after an earlier committee recommended capping director compensation and benefits at levels below $39,000 per year.

The committee also will investigate compensation for top PEC executives such as General Manager Juan Garza, officials said.

The board also revised policies calling for greater director involvement on approving contracts related to co-op projects. Under the new rules, the board must approve all contracts lasting two years or more, and will also approve all consulting contracts valued at $150,000 or greater.

The board also will approve all contracts valued at $1 million or greater, down from the earlier threshold of $5 million.

“This is not in any way designed to trim the authority or lack of confidence in the general manager,” Landaker said. “This is a refinement-based policy change.”

The next board meeting is 10 a.m. April 19 at PEC headquarters, 201 S. Avenue F.

chris@thepicayune.com

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