Cobb EMC postpones action on transparency initiatives

Changes to Cobb EMC’s transparency policies have been delayed at least another month until new board members are elected and can have a say on the issue.

The Marietta-based utility’s CEO, Chip Nelson, asked the current board of directors on Tuesday to postpone discussion of whether to allow open board meetings until after the first of three rounds of board elections on Nov. 12, Cobb EMC spokesman Sam Kelly said.

The open board meetings, to begin in January if approved, were part of a “New Day” plan and rebranding that Nelson outlined last month as a way to restore trust in the embattled co-op. Nelson also recommended a member advisory board to act as a liaison between the board and the EMC’s approximately 190,000 members. The advisory board discussion will be delayed until all three rounds of elections for the 10-member board are complete on May 12.

Nelson’s recommended initiatives — along with revealing his salary and releasing quarterly reports, which have already been done — were seen as a major undertaking in an industry whose transparency guidelines are limited.

Like other Georgia EMCs, the Marietta co-op is self-regulating and not required to provide detailed information about its actions to  members or the state Public Service Commission.

When introduced, Nelson’s initiatives were supported by members who sued the company and its former CEO in 2007, after controversy erupted about a for-profit side unit set by the executives then in charge. They also drew support from reform groups looking to unseat incumbent members of the current board of directors.

“As long as they are still intending to have open board meetings beginning in January, I don’t know that it makes a huge difference,” one of the original suing members, Tripper Sharp, said Tuesday. “Basically what we have is a lame duck board and I’m not expecting a lot from the board until after the elections anyway.”

On Tuesday, the sixth incumbent board member, David McGinnis, decided not to seek re-election, Kelly said, joining five others, including the board’s chairman and vice-chairwoman, not running again.