Bluebonnet's Annual Meeting held May 12 without public attendance due to coronavirus

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative conducted its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 12, without public attendance in adherence to coronavirus-related guidelines from federal and state public health officials. 

“Our Annual Meeting is our most important event each year,” said Ben Flencher, Bluebonnet’s Board chairman. “It certainly was a different experience this year. We missed visiting with members, seeing old friends and making new ones.” 

During the Annual Meeting four incumbent directors who were unopposed in their respective races were re-elected by general consent in accordance with Bluebonnet’s bylaws. The four directors were, from left below, Roderick Emanuel, District 3, Bastrop County; Robert Mikeska, District 7, Washington County; Byron Balke, District 6, Austin, Colorado and Fayette counties; and Russell Jurk, District 4, Lee, Milam and Williamson counties.


Though the public was unable to attend this year’s Annual Meeting due to the coronavirus crisis, 6,487 Bluebonnet members were represented and established a quorum for the meeting by submitting their proxy forms. 

“It was important to hold our Annual Meeting in accordance with our bylaws and to re-elect the four incumbent directors so the Board could continue representing our members during this challenging period,” said Matt Bentke, Bluebonnet’s general manger. “The prohibition against large meetings for public health reasons demonstrated the importance of our members’ ability to participate by proxy.” 

There was no new business on the meeting’s agenda, but had there been, those items would have been voted on by members being present with their proxy. 
In other business during the Annual Meeting, Board Secretary-Treasurer Robert Mikeska certified the Annual Meeting’s legal notice and that a quorum was represented, and the cooperative’s Board of Directors approved the minutes from last year’s meeting. Ben Flencher provided the chairman’s report and Matt Bentke provided his general manager’s report, both of which included financial and operational highlights.  

“Bluebonnet’s directors and employees are proud to be able to support our communities and help our members through this difficult time,” Bentke said. “That includes returning $4.2 million in capital credits beginning this month, providing financial assistance to nonprofit organizations that help Bluebonnet’s members pay their electric bills, and donating much-needed money to area food banks that provide meals to families across the cooperative’s service area.” 

Bluebonnet will continue to track the bill-pay assistance provided by the nonprofit organizations, and work with food banks to provide additional support. Bluebonnet is also helping families and businesses by temporarily suspending disconnections for nonpayment; and waiving late fees, deferring payment due dates and making payment arrangements for members in need.

Bluebonnet members who submitted proxy forms were entered into drawings for prizes, including a 2011 Ford F-150 being retired from the cooperative’s fleet, two Cub Cadet riding mowers and a Yeti cooler. Prizes will be drawn on Wednesday, May 13. Winners will be contacted by Bluebonnet to arrange for their prize to be picked up or delivered. Prizes were paid for through donations from Bluebonnet vendors.

Read the news release »
A letter to our members »
Condensed Financial Report »​
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Frequently Asked Questions

Was Bluebonnet’s Annual Meeting canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak? No, the meeting wasn’t canceled, but it was held without public attendance. Bluebonnet’s bylaws require that the meeting is held each year in May. The cooperative’s Board of Directors decided to hold the meeting without public attendance in order to avoid endangering the public health of members, employees and communities from the spread of the coronavirus.

The meeting was Tuesday, May 12, and although members couldn’t attend the meeting, by returning their completed proxy forms before May 5, they could be fully represented if any cooperative business were placed on the meeting’s agenda that would require a vote by members. No items were added; the deadline was 10 days before the Annual Meeting. The completed proxy forms were very important as they were also counted to constitute a quorum of at least 1 percent of the cooperative’s membership, which was required for the 2020 Annual Meeting to take place.

What is proxy voting, and how does it work? 
Proxy voting allows members who are not able to attend the Annual Meeting to designate another person attending the annual meeting or Bluebonnet’s Proxy Committee to vote in his or her place. Proxy forms were mailed to all members in March. The deadline was May 5, 2020.
 
Can this proxy be used again at future Annual Meetings?
No, the proxy is valid only for the meeting specified on the proxy form.

Why return a proxy form when there is no contested elections for directors, and there will probably be no new business during the Annual Meeting? How should I direct my proxy?
Proxy participation is important to ensure there is a quorum of members represented during the Annual Meeting, and if any new business is placed on the Annual Meeting agenda that requires a vote. Members can direct their proxy selection to the Proxy Committee, which this year was made up of the five Bluebonnet directors who were not up for election: Ben Flencher, Milton Shaw, Debbi Goertz, Shana Whiteley and Bryan Bracewell.

Are you going to give out prizes?
Bluebonnet will still give away prizes, and any member who returns a proxy form will be entered into drawings for prizes, which the cooperative will mail or deliver to winners. Those prizes include a 2011 Ford F-150 that is being retired from Bluebonnet’s fleet, a Yeti cooler, two Cub Cadet riding mowers and more.

How will members know what occurs during the Annual Meeting?
Bluebonnet posted information immediately after the Annual Meeting on our website, bluebonnet.coop, and on our social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also sent a news release to local media outlets and will include an article about the meeting in our pages of the July issue of Texas Co-op Power magazine.  

What if I wanted to ask questions during the meeting?
At any time, any member can send questions to General Manager and CEO Matt Bentke via his email, generalmanager@bluebonnet.coop. Questions submitted to Matt via the general manager email are normally responded to within a day or two.
 


Bluebonnet’s service area is divided into seven districts. Can I vote for candidates in all districts or just the district in which I live?
Co-op members can vote for directors in all districts. The districts in the co-op’s service area were drawn along Bluebonnet’s service area boundary and county lines. The seven districts are represented by one to three directors based on, among other things, the number of meters in each district. 
 
Who administers the election? 
Election Services Co., which is a third-party, independent vendor that specializes in administering corporate elections nationwide. It has the skills, experience and equipment to efficiently and accurately tally proxies and votes while adhering to the Federal Trade Commission’s Red Flag requirements that protect members’ confidential account information.