How much do you know about your energy provider? Most people know that they receive a bill each month, but that’s about the extent of it. If they try to learn more, will they be able to get info on the company’s finances, their rate structure, or who’s running for board positions?
CoServ Electric is a not-for-profit cooperative headquartered in Corinth. The company provides electric service to more than 152,000 member-owners across six counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and is now the second-largest electric cooperative in the state.
Frisco resident Clint Bedsole is running for a seat on the CoServ board of directors, District 4, and he says it’s difficult to obtain much information from the company because they are anything but transparent.
“One of the things unique about this race is that anybody running for office knows it’s all about getting voter turnout. Here (at CoServ), it’s not so much voter turnout as it is voter education from a standpoint of them knowing that they even have a board, and the fact that they know that they can even vote for a board,” Bedsole said during an interview at my Flower Mound home.
“The voting process is not necessarily flawed, per se, but, I did not know until we had this power line issue that there was a board that you could vote on,” he added. The issue he refers to began around last August when Brazos Electric, CoServ’s wholesale power provider, proposed two pads for transmission lines through the city; Main Street or Stonebrook Parkway.
Some residents of Frisco found out about that and got involved, ultimately forming the West Frisco Homeowners Coalition. Soon thereafter, Texas State Rep. Pat Fallon, State Senator Jane Nelson and Congressman Michael Burgess got involved, slowing it down to a process in which more investigation was needed to find alternate options. Residents want to know if the lines can be placed underground, or if there are other locations where the power lines can be installed. “That’s the process we’re in now,” Bedsole said.
“These power lines would be ¾ the size of the huge power lines with three major prongs sticking out and placed in areas among the general population. So, from a health standpoint, and aesthetics, those are the two major issues. There have been studies made and there are people that live in Frisco Lakes, a retirement community, that are concerned about this. I am from a ‘whole value’ standpoint and aesthetics. I feel CoServ has not done their homework and has rushed to judgment, thinking they could put it down one median or another without doing their due diligence.”
Bedsole, 42, married with three small children, says one of the main reasons he’s running is to make the company and its board more transparent. “As I sit here right now, I can tell you that if you call CoServ and ask who is running in the election, they will not tell you. What’s the secrecy all about? I want my constituents to know what’s going on with CoServ. Bad land deals in 2000 brought up the bankruptcy. They were buying golf courses and restaurants. It is my understanding that they are out of that now and have paid their creditors. But, there were lawsuits in 2009 for election fraud, and the details of the bankruptcy are still not clear.”
How the board gets paid is also vague, according to Bedsole. “It took a couple of calls to find out that this board actually gets paid. According to the bylaws they don’t get a salary, which is correct, but they receive a per diem. Now, I’m a corporate guy and per diem means you get paid your expenses per day, but these guys are being paid per diem, plus if they have expenses they incur, they won’t disclose what those expenses are. In my humble opinion, CoServ as a company is not near as transparent as they need to be with their cooperative members.”
Bedsole says the current board has members that have been there an average of 14 years. He wants to be a voice on the board to let some air in and end the mystery. “I want the CoServ customers to know what is going on financially, with the power lines, with the board elections and with the other charity boards that they are involved with that get paid large amounts of money. I’d like to find out more about that; we are talking six-figure sums. For example, the only way I found out what the board was getting paid was through an online IRS document.”
Board members are elected at-large and each household or business with a CoServ meter gets one vote. The June edition of the Texas Co-op Power magazine will have the ballot for voters to fill out and mail in (a postage paid envelope will be provided). Ballots must be received at the CoServ office by June 13. On June 19, winners will be announced. For more info on Clint Bedsole, check his webpage: www.clintbedsoleforcoserv.com.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.