While he feigns concern about Cobb EMC governance, he neglects to mention that the stated goal of his organization, the Cobb Alliance for Smart Energy, is only to elect new Cobb EMC board members who will stop Plant Washington. His failure to disclose his true agenda is dishonest and calls into question his credibility.
The core of Barksdale’s argument seems to be that Cobb EMC members have no control over the co-op. Apparently he has chosen to ignore the principles of representative governance — an interesting omission in a column that begins with a discussion of Congress and is written by a former government employee.
A short refresher for Mr. Barksdale: Just as voters elect members to Congress to represent their interests, members of EMCs elect boards of directors to ensure their co-ops provide reliable and affordable electricity. But EMC members do not vote on decisions they have elected board members to make, just as citizens do not vote on legislation in Congress. It also is important to remember that Cobb EMC decided to join Power4Georgians in 2007, long before the terms of any board members had expired.
Nonetheless, Barksdale seems to believe that because the Cobb EMC board made a decision he does not like — to invest in Plant Washington — that decision is somehow invalid because members did not vote on it. Perhaps he also believes that if Congress passes a law he does not like, he does not have to obey it because he did not vote on it.
Another of Barksdale’s assertions, that the Cobb EMC board has attempted to bend election rules, also shows his disregard for facts. In fact, following the settlement of civil litigation in 2008, Cobb EMC began a process to implement voting by mail to make voting easier, more convenient and inclusive for all members.
But opponents went to court to block Cobb EMC’s efforts — leading many to wonder if ‘bringing more democracy to Cobb EMC’ is really their goal (it clearly is not Barksdale’s goal). While opponents continue to decry the lack of elections, they seem to forget that had they not gone running back into court, those elections very likely would have taken place by now.
Aside from Barksdale and the handful of malcontents that attend CASE meetings — including representatives of the anti-coal Sierra Club — a 2010 survey of Cobb EMC members found the majority are satisfied with their co-op. And with good reason.
Consider that between 1994 and 2010, the national cost to consumers for electricity increased an average of 40 percent. By comparison, members of Cobb EMC only saw their costs increase an average of 20 percent. During the same period, Cobb EMC built one of the most technologically advanced electric distribution systems in the nation, with a reliability rating of greater than 99 percent.
Reliable and affordable electricity also is the reason Cobb EMC joined the Power4Georgians consortium in developing Plant Washington. Coal is a proven, cost-effective and reliable way to generate electricity, and Plant Washington will be one of the cleanest coal energy facilities ever developed. Cobb EMC’s involvement in the project will ensure its members have reliable and affordable energy for decades to come.
Despite his purported concerns about Cobb EMC’s governance, Tom Barksdale appears to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for environmental groups seeking to derail practical energy solutions in Georgia. That he fails to reveal his true agenda while accusing Cobb EMC of not being transparent is sheer hypocrisy.
Bob Elsberry was employed by Cobb EMC for almost 31 years, retiring in 2005 as the co-op’s senior vice president, member relations. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a BBA in marketing.