After more than 1,400 members of East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative have joined a Facebook group decrying what they say are exorbitant bills and false usage numbers and MuskogeeNOW.com reported that they have no recourse about the issues because as a cooperative, East Central does not fall under the corporation commission’s oversight, members wanted to know what they could do to get the cooperative back under oversight, which could help regulate meters and billing practices.
There is an eight-step process to getting East Central back under state guidelines, Katherine Russell, public relations manager at the co-op, said today.
Step 1 - 5% of Members would sign and submit to the Cooperative an initiative petition in paper form to place the Cooperative under the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulation
Step 2 - The Cooperative will tentatively establish a date for a member meeting to present the petition for vote by the members approximately 180 days from the date the petition is returned
Step 3 - The Cooperative would validate the member signatures to determine if the 5% minimum is confirmed
Step 4 – If the petition is confirmed, the Cooperative will confirm the member meeting date for voting on the petition, and will deliver notice of this meeting with a ballot between 21 and 45 days prior to the meeting
Step 5 – If the Cooperative mails information about the proposition for regulation other than the notice of the election and ballot, the cooperative shall include in such mailing any information submitted by petition signed by not less than 1% of the Cooperative’s members
Step 6 - The members will be allowed to vote by delivering their ballots either in person at the member meeting or by mail
Step 7 - The 5% quorum will be counted from both those attending and delivering their ballots in person and the mail ballots received
Step 8 – A simple majority of votes in favor of regulation is required for approval. Upon approval, the Cooperative will notify the Oklahoma Corporation Commission of the approval within 10 days
Source: 17 Oklahoma Statue §158.27(E)(1-4)
Five percent of current users would be 1,267 members. The cooperative currently has 25,340 members, Russell said. More than 1,400 members are also members of the Facebook group.
Resubmitting to state oversight would mean members have an authority to appeal to when their bills double or triple with no explanation. Currently, there is no such authority, meaning the cooperative can do as it sees fit.