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Claiborne Electric preps for drive-thru Annual Meeting


Claiborne Electric will host a drive-through Annual Meeting on April 24 due to the continuing effects of Covid-19.

The Co-op will have two sites available for members to register– one at Claiborne Electric’s headquarters office (12525 Hwy. 9 in Homer), and one at D’Arbonne Woods Charter School (9560 Hwy. 33 in Farmerville). On April 24, members can drive through a multi-lane site in either location to register for the meeting, be entered for all prize drawings, and cast a ballot for the proposed bylaw amendments. Drive-through registration will take place from 9 a.m. until noon.

At each location, members will drive in and remain in their vehicles through the registration process. Claiborne Electric employee will be directing members to lanes. After members are finished registering and voting, they will be directed to the exit.

“We hoped that by this spring, Covid would be a terrible memory and we would be able to meet in person, but that isn’t the case,” said Claiborne Electric CEO and General Manager Mark Brown. “We have some important business we need the membership to vote on, so we are improvising to allow our members to vote on the proposed bylaw amendments that were intended to go before the membership in 2020.”

The proposed amendments and explanations have been presented in Louisiana Country, the Co-op’s member newsletter, several times. The March/April issue contained a ballot for each member to vote on the amendments and bring to the meeting. Members who do not have that ballot will be given a blank ballot at the meeting. Amendments and explanations are also available on the news page of this website.

In early April, members received an official registration card by mail. For the registration process to flow smoothly, members are asked to bring this card. All members who bring their registration card will be entered into a drawing for a $500 gift card.

Several cash prizes will be awarded after the conclusion of the meeting. Members who participate will be eligible for cash prizes of $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, and a grand prize of $5,000. Names will also be drawn for 50 $100 gift cards. All prizes will be drawn after the conclusion of the meeting, and winners will be posted online and contacted directly.

Brown said that as members arrive to the drive-through sites, they should try to have their ballot, registration card and photo ID ready to present.

The primary member on the account must be the one to register and present identification. If a spouse will attend the meeting without the primary member, both spouses must visit a Claiborne Electric office before the Annual Meeting to form a Joint Membership. With a Joint Membership, either spouse can present I.D. and represent that membership at the meeting. A joint membership is still one membership – spouses will need to determine jointly how they wish to cast their one vote.

An organization that is a member of the Co-op may designate a person to attend the meeting to register on behalf of the organization and cast a ballot. At registration, that person will need to present a letter on the organization’s letterhead and signed by the leader of the organization naming them as the representative for the organization.

“The 2021 Annual Meeting will look different than what we are accustomed to, but we are determined to make this a good situation,” Brown said. “We hope to be back in our big venue soon, shaking hands and hugging friends. But for now, we have to improvise to take care of our Co-op. Please make plans to join us for a few minutes on April 24!”

Bylaw Amendments proposed for 2021 Annual Meeting


The following 10 proposed Bylaw amendments will be put before Claiborne Electric’s membership for a vote during the 2021 Annual Meeting. Bylaw ballots were mailed to members in the March/April edition of LA Country. Blank ballots will be available at the meeting for members who do not have a ballot.

Proposed change 1 – To replace the first sentence of Article I, Section 1 to read as follows:

“Any person, firm, association, corporation or body politic or subdivision thereof may become a member of record in Claiborne Electric Cooperative, Inc., (hereinafter called the “Cooperative”) by:”

This change adds the term “of record” to the sentence to form the term “member of record.” This change strengthens the term, making clear that “member” refers to a bona fide, current member of the Cooperative.

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Proposed change 2 – To replace the first sentence of Article I, Section 3 to read as follows:

“Any two adults living in the same residence may apply for and sign a joint membership application and, subject to their compliance with the requirements set forth in Section 1 of this Article, may be accepted for such membership.”

This change adds the terms “and sign” and “application” to the sentence, clarifying the process of applying for joint membership.

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Proposed change 3 – To replace Article III, Section 1 to read as follows:

“The annual meeting of the membership shall be held at such place and time as approved by the Board of Directors and designated in the notice of meeting for the purpose of passing on reports for the previous fiscal year, conducting Director elections, if needed, and transacting such other business as may come before the meeting. Failure to hold the annual meeting at the designated time shall not work a forfeiture or dissolution of the Cooperative.”

This change adds the term “, conducting Director elections, if needed,” to the language of the paragraph. This would allow for Director elections at the Annual Meeting.

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Proposed change 4 – To replace Article III, Section 4 to read as follows:

“Except for Director elections, three per centum of the Cooperative’s total membership, present in person at a meeting, shall constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting a special meeting of the membership or the regularly-scheduled annual meeting of the membership. If less than a quorum is present at any meeting, a majority of those present in person may adjourn the meeting from time to time without further notice, provided, that the Secretary shall notify any absent members of the time and place of such adjourned meeting.”

This change adds the term “Except for Director elections,” to open the paragraph. This language makes clear that a quorum applies to members in attendance at membership meetings, not for Director elections.

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Proposed change 5 – To replace Article III, Section 5 to read as follows:

“Each member of record shall be entitled to only one vote. All questions shall be decided by a vote of a majority of the members voting thereon in person, except as otherwise provided by law, the articles of incorporation or these bylaws.”

This change adds the term “of record” to the sentence to form the term “member of record.” This change strengthens the term, making clear that a vote may only be cast by a bona fide, current member of the Cooperative.

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Proposed change 6 – To replace Article III, Section 7 to read as follows:

“The order of business at the annual meeting of the members and, so far as possible, at all other meetings of the members, shall be essentially as follows:

  1. Report as to the number of members present in person in order to determine the existence of a quorum.
  2. Reading of the notice of the meeting and proof of the due publication or mailing thereof, or the waiver or waivers of notice of the meeting, as the case may be.
  3. Reading of unapproved minutes of previous meetings of the members and the taking of necessary action thereon.
  4. Presentation and consideration of reports of officers, Directors and committees, if any.
  5. Report on Director elections, if conducted
  6. Unfinished business.
  7. Such new business as shall have been published in the agenda incorporated into the official notice of the meeting.
  8. Adjournment.”

This change adds a report on any conducted Director elections to the Order of Business at the Annual Meeting. It also re-numbers the Order of Business following such report.

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Proposed change 7 – To replace Article IV, Section 2 to read as follows:

“No person shall be eligible to become or remain a director or to hold any position of trust who:
(a) Is not a member and bona fide resident in the area served by the Cooperative and who does not reside within the Board District the director represents or,
(b) Is in any way employed by or financially interested in a competing enterprise or a business selling electric energy or electric materials and supplies to the Cooperative;
(c) Is the incumbent of or candidate for an elected public office;
(d) Has been in any manner employed by the Cooperative during the previous ten (10) years;

Upon establishing the fact that a director is holding office in violation of any of the foregoing provisions, it shall immediately become incumbent upon the Board of Directors to remove such director from office. Nothing contained in this section shall affect in any manner whatsoever the validity of any action taken at any meeting of the Board of Directors.”

This change has two parts. First, it removes language from line (a) which read “(this provision shall not be applied retroactively and shall not affect any elections of directors held prior to the approval date of these changes of bylaws)”. This removed language is unnecessary. Second, this change removes language from line (c) which read “in connection with which a salary or compensation in excess of $1,000.00 per annum is paid”. This removed language eliminates any provision for an incumbent or candidate for an elected public office to hold a position on Claiborne Electric’s Board of Directors.

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Proposed change 8 – To replace the last paragraph of Article IV, Section 3 to read as follows:

“The Board of Directors shall provide for elections as the term of office of the director from that district expires. Director elections shall be held at the annual meeting of the general membership. Such elections shall be held on a staggered basis, three district elections per year, and Directors, once elected, shall serve for a term of three years. Such terms shall begin at the meeting of the Board of Directors held at its next regularly scheduled meeting following the annual meeting of the members. For purposes of Director elections, no quorum is required. Directors shall be elected by majority vote of all registered members casting ballots at that annual meeting. Should balloting result in a tie vote, the winner shall be determined by drawing lots, conducted by the current Board President or his designee. If no nominees are submitted, the vacancy shall be filled in accordance with Article IV, Section 6 of these by-laws.”

This change moves Director elections from District Meetings to the Annual Meeting. This move allows Directors to be elected by the members in attendance at the Annual Meeting. This change also eliminates a quorum for the purpose of Director elections.

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Proposed change 9 – To replace Article IV, Section 4 to read as follows:

“Any three (3) members of record living within a district and acting together, may make a nomination for the Director from that district in writing during the month of January. Nominations will be due by close of business on the last business day of January. The secretary shall post such nominations at the principal office of the Cooperative in both Union and Claiborne Parishes. If only one nomination is submitted, the Board of Directors will declare the nominated candidate as the winner and shall not hold an election for that district. If no nominations are submitted, the seat will be considered a vacancy and will be handled according to Article IV, Section 6 of these bylaws.”

This change removes language concerning the nomination period for the Board of Directors that could be confusing, changing the nomination period to the month of January each year. This change simplifies the nomination process and allows plenty of time for notification of Director elections in the Cooperative’s publication. This change also dismisses the election process in the case that only one candidate is nominated. Also, this change adds the term “of record” in the same manner as proposed changes 1 and 5.

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Proposed change 10 – To replace Article IV, Section 5 to read as follows:

“Any member may bring charges against a director by filing such charges in writing with the Secretary, together with a petition signed by at least ten per centum of the members residing in the district from which the director was elected. The director against whom such charges are brought shall be informed in writing thereof at least thirty days prior to the meeting at which the charges are to be considered and shall have opportunity at the special meeting to be heard in person or by counsel and to present evidence in respect of the charges; and the person or persons bringing the charges against him shall be given the same opportunity. The question of the removal of such director shall be considered and voted upon at the special meeting of the members from that district. Any vacancy created by such removal shall be filled in accordance with Article IV, Section 6 of these Bylaws.”

This change increases the consistency of the Bylaws, making sure a vacancy on the Board of Directors is handled in the same manner under varying circumstances.

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We believe the proposed changes presented to the members simplify language and processes. We think these changes also increase member involvement and transparency. We ask that our members make themselves familiar with the proposed changes. As we believe these changes are in the best interest of the Co-op and its membership, we urge members to approve these changes at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

A Message from the Manager regarding MISO load shed event


A Message from the Manager:
Friends,
The good news is, we have thus far been spared the initial disaster predicted by the various weather services across the country. We have had few outages and they have been scattered for the most part. That is, until last night! The precipitation from our first round of the winter storms was very dry and did not stick to the trees very well. This served to limit tree-related outages to a minimal level.
Last night, we did experience a widespread outage when CLECO-Cajun followed a MISO-driven order to shed load. CLECO-Cajun chose to drop load on the south feeder out of our Minden Bulk substation. The resulted in briefly terminating source power to our Heflin and Regency substations. They did so without notice to us. The first indication that we had a problem was when we began receiving outage calls from that area. Following my phone call with CLECO-Cajun last night, it is unlikely we will be receiving a Christmas card from them this year!
MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, manages transmission and generation resources on behalf of their owners throughout most of the mid-section of the United States from Louisiana north to Canada. In our area, there are numerous generation owners, including our provider, CLECO-Cajun. The primary owner of transmission lines in our area is Entergy. In their role as the manager of all these assets, MISO makes the decisions as to which generators operate and at what level they generate power as well as manages the transmission grid to ensure a stable flow of electricity in the central region of the country.
We have brought in additional crews in anticipation of today’s potential for additional snow and ice. We will provide updates along the way and you can continue to monitor our status using this link to our webpage Map Viewer (https://ebill.our.coop/maps/OutageWebMap/ur.coop).
Mark Brown
General Manager, Claiborne Electric Cooperative

Rural Electric Youth Tour winners to receive scholarships in lieu of trip to Washington, D.C.


Each year, Claiborne Electric Cooperative holds the Rural Electric Youth Tour contest, which sends two local high school juniors on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

The winning students usually join a delegation of winners from other electric cooperatives in Louisiana and travel as a group to the nation’s capital. There, they connect with students from electric cooperatives across the country to participate in the National Rural Electric Youth Tour. Events on the trip are spearheaded by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

The 2020 Youth Tour was canceled due to Covid-19, and NRECA recently decided that the 2021 Youth Tour must also be canceled.

The management team at Claiborne Electric has decided to proceed with the 2021 Youth Tour essay contest. Instead of the traditional trip, two winning students will receive a $2,000 college scholarship.

Any high school junior who lives with a parent or guardian in a home served by Claiborne Electric is eligible to enter the contest. Also eligible are current high school juniors from any of the five high schools served by Claiborne Electric. These include Union Parish High School, Union Christian Academy, D’Arbonne Woods Charter School, Claiborne Academy and Lakeside High School.

To enter, each contestant must write an essay in the form of a letter to an elected official. Essays may discuss any topic that is important to the student and should be addressed to the appropriate official. Essays should be at least 300 words in length. Students may state facts and statistics to support their essay, but writing with clear purpose will be equally as important.

Essays will be coded for anonymity, so the name of the writer will not be known during the judging process. A panel of judges will review the essays and finalists will be determined. The winners of the trip will be selected from the group of finalists, based on the quality of the essay and other academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

Essays submitted become property of Claiborne Electric Co-op and may be published at the co-op’s discretion. All essays must be accompanied by a student information form, which is available here. All essays and student information forms must be delivered electronically to youthtour@our.coop by the end of the business day on Friday, February 26, 2021. This extends the original due date by three weeks, due to changes in the program and student quarantines. Essays will be scanned for plagiarism detection.

Foster Campbell announces support of electric cooperative internet projects


At a press conference held on October 6, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell announced his support of Claiborne Electric Cooperative and Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative providing affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband internet service in the areas where they provide electric service.

Claiborne Electric General Manager & CEO Mark Brown said this support is vital to the proposed fiber-to-the-home broadband project the cooperative has been working on for the past three years.

“We express our sincere thanks for Commissioner Campbell’s support of our project,” Brown said. “Without his endorsement, our proposal wouldn’t be able to get off the ground. With his help, we will now be able to provide desperately needed, genuine broadband access to thousands of homes and businesses across our service area.”

Campbell said during the next 10 years, federal agencies are expected to distribute more than $600 million to expand Louisiana’s high-speed internet service. Campbell said he now supports and urges electric cooperatives to compete for that funding.

“These are our tax dollars,” he said.  “Few public needs are as vital right now as broadband access, so we should fight to capture these dollars for our state.

“So much of our education, health care, and commerce is now conducted on-line, so reliable, fast and affordable internet service is needed in every household and every community.”

Campbell said he will ask the PSC this month to support proposals by Claiborne Electric and Northeast Power to create subsidiary companies that will offer internet service in their regions.  The Louisiana co-ops are part of a trend across the country of electric cooperatives entering the broadband business. Currently, more than 100 electric cooperatives nationwide have thriving internet subsidiaries.

“Rural residents and business owners in North Louisiana have received reliable and reasonably priced electric service from these co-ops for decades,” Campbell said.  “I believe they can count on the same for internet service.”

My lights are out! Now what?


Electricity powers our lives. We depend on it for nearly everything we do. So we understand how frustrating it can be when you’re left in the dark.

Power outages are never convenient. It takes a lot of hands to keep your power on, and even more hands to get it up and running when an outage occurs. Claiborne Electric Cooperative works hard to restore your electric service when outages occur, but there are necessary steps to take to ensure that power is restored to the majority of members as quickly, and as safely, as possible.

After a major storm, our line crews must identify which infrastructure has incurred damage. Sometimes, transmission towers and lines can be damaged. Transmission lines deliver power to substations. Most of the transmission lines delivering power to Claiborne Electric’s substations are owned by a separate transmission company. We pay this company a fee to deliver power from our power supplier near Baton Rouge to our substations along their transmission lines. If there is damage along these transmission lines, there is no power being delivered to our substations. Repairing damage to transmission lines is the first necessity when it comes to restoring power.

Next, damage must be assessed and repaired at Claiborne Electric’s substations. These substations serve thousands of members each. If the issue is isolated and can be resolved at the substation level, great! That means thousands of people can get their power restored at once.

At times, the issue cannot be isolated to one of our distribution substations. If that is the case, crews inspect supply lines between the substations and the meters they serve. If the supply lines can be repaired, power can be restored to the towns and homes those lines serve, as long as there is no damage to the tap lines.

Tap lines carry power to the transformers outside homes and other buildings. Line crews identify which damaged lines to work on first based on which lines can receive power, and which ones will restore power to the greatest number of members.

Sometimes, the service line between a member’s meter and the transformer is damaged. Have you ever lost power only to look next door and see the lights still blazing from your neighbor’s window? This is what we refer to as an individual or single outage. If this happens, report it so we know we have individual damage in the area that will require the attention of a line crew.

Power restoration can be a tricky business, so if you lose service in your home or neighborhood please remember the following:

  • Stay clear of downed power lines. Contact with these lines could be life threatening.
  • Report the outage to by using our free SmartHub app or calling 800-900-9406 as soon as possible.

Click here for a model of the power restoration process: Power Restoration handout

Co-op preps for Hurricane Laura – Manager’s Message


A MESSAGE FROM OUR GENERAL MANAGER

Friends,

Here’s a quick update on our preparations for Hurricane Laura. We currently have four extra crews here onsite from ECHO. We also have four more crews on the way. There has been a steady stream of delivery trucks arriving over the last few days bringing us an extra supply of poles and pole-line materials. We should be ready when this storm arrives.

I should also offer a few words regarding how the repairs will be handled as a reminder of our procedures. These kinds of situations are the most dangerous for our co-workers and for our contractors. Safety comes first. As the storm approaches, we will stage materials and supplies in our warehouses and on each truck involved in the restoration effort. While the storm is actually underway in our area, our employees and co-workers will be located safely out of harm’s way. We will be assessing the extent of our outages during this time to better allocate resources across the system. When the storm passes, the restoration effort will begin in earnest.

You should be aware of the priorities used in this effort. Transmission lines must be restored first. Any required substation work comes after that. Next, we focus on main three-phase feeders. We then begin working on large single-phase feeders. Finally, we commit effort to restoring smaller single-phase taps and individual outages. We often receive complaints from members telling us that we drove right by their house without stopping. It will likely happen again over the next few days. We must follow the proper power restoration process. For example, if a substation is without power, we must make those repairs before homes served by that substation can receive power. We will focus our efforts where they can make the most impact in the shortest amount of time.

Please pray for our Cooperative, for our employees and for those individuals who have come to our area to help us with these restoration efforts.

Mark Brown
General Manager & CEO

Claiborne Electric refunds nearly $700,000 in account deposits


Claiborne electric members who have paid their monthly electric bill on time for the past 36 months will receive a credit on their August or September bill in the amount of the deposit they paid when connecting their account.

“At a time when many of our members are wondering how they will pay monthly expenses, our Board of Directors made the decision to refund deposits on accounts with a demonstrated on-time payment history,” Claiborne Electric General Manager and CEO Mark Brown said. “These members have shown that they are unlikely to disconnect and leave the Co-op with unpaid debt, which is the reason we keep a deposit on file. For many of these members, a deposit refund will mean one to two months without owing an electric bill.”

Brown said refunding deposits after 36 months of on-time payments will continue.

“This is not a one-time refund,” he said. “Any member, no matter how long they have been connected, will receive their deposit back at the point they have paid on or before the due date for 36 months.”

Claiborne Electric names 2020 college scholarship recipients


Congratulations to Claiborne Electric’s 2020 college scholarship winners! Due to the cancellation of our Annual Meeting, winners were drawn in our office.

Each student will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

 

Elise Perritt (parents: Wayne & Monique Perritt)

Kathlyn Redman (Parent: Michael Redman)

Bethany Morris (Parents: Terry & Stacey Morris)

Evangeline Brasher (Parents: Ryan & Leslie Brasher)

Mihir Patel (Parent: Kamlesh Patel)

Janae Battle (Parent: Jacqueline Battle)

Allyson Martin (Parent: Megan Martin)

Daisy Verdin (Parents: Chad & Amanda Verdin)

Kaleb Armstrong (Parent: Kevin Armstrong)

Kyleigh Bass (Parents: Charles & Dwala Bass)

Claiborne Electric offers payment arrangements for delinquent accounts


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Louisiana Public Service Commission issued an order to suspend disconnection of electric services due to non-pay. As that order expires, Claiborne Electric General Manager & CEO Mark Brown wants Co-op members to know they have payment options to clear delinquent debt.

“We understand that this pandemic has caused financial hardship for some of our members, and we want to help them clear that debt so that it doesn’t grow to an unmanageable amount,” Brown said.

Electricity used during the order will still have to be paid for. Members who feel they will be unable to pay balances should contact the Co-op for possible payment arrangements. Brown said members have multiple options to clear debt over time instead of paying an entire accrued balance at once.

12-month payment plan:

For members who want to pay debt on a traditional monthly billing cycle, the Co-op offers a 12-month payment plan. With this plan, all debt owed by the member to the Cooperative is divided by 12. The member pays one portion of the debt each month by the due date, along with their current monthly bill, until all debt is paid in full.

This plan allows members to bring their current balance out of a negative state and pay a small portion of the debt each month for 12 months, at which point the debt is cleared.

EZPay:

Members with an outstanding debt may opt to use Claiborne Electric’s EZPay program. EZPay allows members to pay for electricity in advance instead of receiving a traditional bill. The program allows members to purchase electricity before it is used, giving them the flexibility to add credit to their electric account as their budget allows. It also eliminates deposits, due dates, late fees, and fees associated with disconnection or re-connection.

EZPay also has a mechanism that helps members pay off accumulated debt. When a member who owes debt to the cooperative makes an EZPay payment, 80% of the payment purchases electricity for future use and 20% of the payment is applied to outstanding debt. This allows a member to pay the debt over time without facing disconnection. This would be a good option for members who have accumulated debt during the pandemic that they are unable to pay in full. If a member is on traditional billing and would prefer changing to EZPay, we can also apply the account’s deposit to help lower the debt.

“The people we serve are our friends and neighbors, and we want to help them during this difficult time,” Brown said. “I would ask members not to wait until they owe an amount that makes them overwhelmed. Call us. We will be glad to help find the payment option that fits their needs.”

To discuss payment options, please call our Farmerville office at 368-3011 or our Homer office at 927-3504.

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