Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed by Gov. Ralph Northam on large gatherings, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative will be holding a very abbreviated annual meeting of the membership this year.
The event, which is mandated by the cooperative’s bylaws to occur every year on the third Wednesday in June, will simply meet the most basic requirements for an official meeting. The entire meeting will last only 15 minutes, and MEC members are encouraged to forgo attendance of the June 17 event.
“We are disappointed that we’ll be unable to have our traditional annual meeting this year because it’s a great opportunity to meet and visit with those we serve and we look forward to it every year…but unfortunately, nothing is traditional these days,” said John C. Lee Jr., MEC president and CEO explains. “And while we don’t like doing so, we are strongly encouraging our members to stay home this year and not attend the annual meeting. Choosing not to attend this year helps us mitigate the potential spread of the virus and helps protect the health of our membership, and our employees.”
He adds, “Obviously, we want all our members to avoid the virus, and if we had an outbreak here at the cooperative, it would seriously hinder our ability to get the lights back on in a timely manner. And should we experience a substantial outage event, we would be seriously disadvantaged with a lot of employees quarantined at home … and that translates into our members being without power longer. We really hope all our members understand the approach to this year’s required meeting and recognize that we are striking the appropriate balance between meeting the cooperative’s bylaw requirements, following COVID-19 precautions and the governor’s mandates, and doing the right thing by our Members and employees.”
In meeting social distancing requirements, the cooperative’s annual meeting facilities can only accommodate 50 in-person attendees and that number is also the limit imposed by the governor when the cooperative set its plans for the event. Additionally, only one person per cooperative account will be admitted, and all attendees will be required to bring and wear a face mask. It should also be noted that there will be no meal, no giveaway items, nor door prizes provided at this year’s meeting; and once the 50-person limit for the event is met, others arriving to attend will have to be turned away.
For those who still choose to attend, cooperative officials thank those in advance for patience in the check-in and registration process given pandemic spacing requirements, noting that the process will not be conducted as it has been in years past. Thousands of members have already voted in the director election through proxy cards sent in lieu of attending the meeting in person. Proxy cards were included with recent electric bills and will be accepted until June 10.
“Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative remains strong and in good standing and we encourage you to read and review our annual report and the president and CEO’s report that will soon appear in its entirety in the magazine,” said MEC’s board chairman David J. Jones. “Overall, your board is pleased to announce that, even during these difficult times, your cooperative remains solid financially and its employees remain healthy and ready to provide the excellent service you have come to expect from your cooperative.”
“Obviously we are doing what we have to do to meet the cooperative’s bylaws, we do intend to revisit those requirements and consider implementing language that better accommodates extraordinary circumstances like those we are experiencing now,” Lee said. “Language that gives us flexibility in when we hold the meeting if we encounter an issue of this magnitude in the future. We thank our members for their cooperation and understanding during these uncommon times and encourage them to review the annual report and other information we send out on last year and their cooperative’s strong financial health and operational excellence. We want to keep them well informed as to what we are doing and how successfully we are meeting our mission of providing them reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electric service.”
To keep its membership up to date on cooperative business, focusing on the last year’s operations, the cooperative’s annual report has been inserted in June’s Cooperative Living magazine, and other information will be delivered to its members in future editions, including the annual “State of the Cooperative” update from MEC’s president and CEO. The business session will be video recorded, and members will have access to the recording through the MEC website at meckelec.org and social media.
Any member requiring additional information should visit the cooperative’s website at meckelec.org or see the MEC Facebook page.
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative was created in 1938 and is the not-for-profit energy provider to over 31,000 meters located in portions of the Virginia counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance and Warren. It is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, headquartered in Chase City with district offices in Gretna, Emporia, Chase City and Bracey. It is an equal opportunity provider and employer.