Both incumbents are running for re-election and both have drawn opponents.
In District 5, which includes parts of Burnet and Travis counties, James Oakley of Spicewood seeks re-election to what will be his last term, if chosen, due to term limits. Also vying for the position are Rachelle Sutherland of Lakeway and Scott Powell of Horseshoe Bay.
Candidates for District 4, which includes Dripping Springs and Oak Hill, are incumbent Travis Cox and challenger Kathi Thomas.
Oakley, who is also Burnet County judge, has served nine years on the PEC board. He was recently re-elected as the Republican nominee for county judge and will serve a third term as he is unopposed on the Nov. 8 mid-term elections ballot.
“I want to continue the great things we’ve been doing as a team on the board for PEC,” Oakley told DailyTrib.com. “I want to continue working to keep rates low, customer service great, continue to maintain reliability, and proactively enhance the system to accommodate the growth we are experiencing.”
Oakley lists his accomplishments during his nine years on the board as:
reducing electricity rates by just over 14 percent;
implementing a new operating platform that saves $5 million a year;
providing employees with new tools and equipment to improve safety and efficiency;
and helping PEC become the first cooperative in Texas to invest in utility-scale battery storage.
“I am also interested in implementing new technologies and exploring the opportunities of partnering with market leaders to utilize our transmission infrastructure to deliver affordable high-speed broadband internet service to our membership,” he said in a statement. “I have nine years’ experience as a board director of the PEC, benefiting members with reduced rates, enhanced customer service, and more efficient governance with increased transparency.”
Sutherland has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry. She was raised in Austin and is excited about renewable energy and taking care of the planet.
“I wanted to run so that I can help PEC get on track with what all the other cooperatives in our nation and across the world are doing with renewable energy,” she told DailyTrib.com. “The demand for energy is increasing. Estimates are that demand will increase by 250 percent by 2050. By then, we want to bring our 80 percent reliance on fossil fuels to 20 percent. If we don’t have a plan at this point, then we are behind.”
Her campaign promises include more transparency at board meetings with less business conducted in executive session.
“I vow to put all major voting decisions on where I stand on my website energy4thefuture.net to keep people informed and to help educate people and to allow people to educate me,” she said in a statement. “I feel like the discussions that board members are having among themselves should happen in front of the members at large. To me, it’s all about transparency.”
Powell, a retired corporate manager with experience running Fortune 500 companies in the energy industry, promises to be a full-time director. He also spoke about making PEC board actions more transparent.
“During my corporate career, I fostered open, honest, and transparent communication with employees, colleagues, contractors, partners, and governmental officials,” he said in a statement. “If I am elected, I will have the same open door policy. I will take the time to sit down and talk with District 5 members so that I can understand your individual concerns and issues.”
His experience managing continuous and rapid change make him a good choice for the position, he said.
“Executives in businesses, such as the PEC, face constant change requiring a practiced and proven flexibility in addressing evolving technologies, policies, procedures, and regulations as well as corresponding capital expense adjustments,” he said. “Forward planning based on the dynamics is critical in order to develop strategies that address the impacts of these changes. Managing change requires experience and a steady hand to avoid missteps.”
The two successful candidates for districts 4 and 5 will be sworn in at PEC’s annual meeting on Friday, June 17, which starts at 9 a.m. They will be seated and get to work at the regular meeting immediately following. The annual and regular meetings will be held at PEC’s headquarters, 201 S. Avenue F in Johnson City.