Your cooperative's governance
Your cooperative is governed by a nine-member board of trustees elected by the membership. The board exercises all of the powers of the cooperative except those that are by law or the cooperative’s bylaws conferred upon or reserved to the members or otherwise delegated.
Duties – Members join the cooperative to receive electric service at their home or business. In return, members agree to timely pay for that service after an invoice is delivered to them. The cooperative’s policies also explain that cooperative employees should have access to the cooperative’s equipment and facilities located on the member’s property.
Rights – Members of the cooperative wear two hats: they are the cooperative’s customers and its owners. As an owner, each member has a vote at the annual membership meeting. The owners elect the board of trustees and approve the bylaws. The board members are elected to serve as the governing body that hires an executive officer who in turn hires employees and manages the operations of the organization.
Annual membership meeting – State law and cooperative bylaws provide an annual opportunity for members to meet to address relevant business needs of the cooperative. The details of the annual membership meeting, typically held on the 3rd Saturday in November, are provided in a notice that is sent to all members prior to the meeting.
Board of Trustees
Each board member’s term of service is three years. The terms are staggered so that elections for approximately one third of board seats are held each year.
The election of trustees is held at the annual membership meeting.
A nominating committee, made up of cooperative members who are not current trustees, meets to make nominations for candidates.
A credentials and elections committee, made up of cooperative members who are not current trustees, meets to assess the qualifications of board candidates and to organize the election. The committee traditionally assigns the management of the election to the county election commission to ensure a well-run election and to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest.
The qualifications required to serve on the board of trustees are contained in the cooperative’s bylaws, Article 5, Section 5.02.
Voting takes place on the day of the annual meeting at the meeting location - Exchange Park Fairgrounds, Ladson. In years when more than one candidate is running for an individual board seat, early voting will be allowed on a day prior to the annual meeting. The schedule will be announced in the notice of the annual meeting.
Campaigning by candidates or their surrogates is not allowed within the fairgrounds. If early voting is required, campaigning will not be allowed within 200 ft. of any entrance used by the voters to enter the polling place.
Extensive training is required to enable trustees to perform their duties. The electric utility industry is complex and expensive and is the world’s most capital-intensive business. The elected board members who serve the cooperative’s membership hire an experienced executive to lead the cooperative, and that executive hires employees who are specialists in their field. Employee training is expensive; for example, it costs almost $250,000 to complete the training of a journeyman lineman, the senior line worker under a crew foreman.
The cooperative purchases educational courses and compensates trustees to attend many days of training on such topics as the organization’s management, accounting, financing, construction and maintenance work. Members who wish to serve on the board must be willing and able to complete that training.
Board members are not cooperative employees and do not receive a salary. However, they are rightly compensated for their time and reimbursed for their expenses in service to the cooperative. They receive a per diem (Latin for “per day”) payment for attending meetings, continuing education programs and other such duties.
Full details regarding board member compensation are available in our Member Portal.
As a not-for-profit utility, Berkeley Electric Cooperative is required to make available a copy of Form 990 which can be found by searching for free on the Internal Revenue Service website.