By a nearly three-to-one margin, Midwest Energy members voted to self-regulate, giving the cooperative’s member-elected Board of Directors most of the decision-making authority previously held by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC).
Nearly 50,000 ballots were mailed to members in April. A total of 11,115 completed ballots were returned to Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball of Hays, an independent accounting firm retained to count the ballots and certify the results. The final count was 8,001 members (72%) voting “Yes” to self-regulation, with 3,114 members (28%) voting “No.”
“We were very pleased with the strong ballot response,” said Midwest Energy’s President and General Manager, Earnie Lehman. “We made every effort and took every opportunity to inform members how self-regulation would help our cooperative, and the strong turnout is an indicator we hit our target.”
The drive for self-regulation began in January, with an employee and member education campaign, which used direct mailings, radio, and newspaper ads to outline the proposal. A series of town hall-style meetings were held in Great Bend, Colby, Scott City and Hays in March and April for members who wanted to discuss the proposal in person.
“I appreciate the vote of confidence the membership has placed in our Board,” said John Blackwell, Chair of the Board of Directors for Midwest Energy. “While this ultimately makes our Board more accountable, it positions us better for future opportunities, while eliminating significant overhead costs for our members.”
With the vote, Midwest Energy becomes the 28th of 29 electric cooperatives in Kansas to become self-regulated since the legislature authorized it in 1992.