Even as courts wade through the appeals being made over the permits granted to Georgia’s first coal plant proposal in over 20 years, and young people are in the streets protesting new fossil fuels facilities, Cobb EMC (Electrical Membership Cooperative) is pushing through with its plans to build a second dirty coal burner in the state.
Their plans though, have not gone uncontested. Students from around the state have assisted community members in forming the local Fall-Line Alliance for Clean Environment, and have taken various action to stop the plant. Recently, concerned Students with Georgia Students for Sustainability joined other Cobb EMC customers, unhappy with recent allegations of corruption within the board and lack of transparency for members, voted on Sept. 4th to cancel the plans and oust the current board. Lawyers for the cooperative say, of course, that no motions passed at the meeting were binding.
Cobb EMC is ripe with it’s own court cases. The non-profit cooperative, which as most cooperatives were- was created during the new deal era as a means for customers and communities to have greater control over prices of and access to electricity, has allegedly used non-profit money’s to finance the creation of a for profit service company; Cobb Energy. Five of the ten Cobb EMC board members, and its executive director Dwight Brown (who also acts as Executive Director of Cobb Energy), own and operate the for-profit business that now provides a myriad of services for Cobb EMC, at an ever increasing premium of course.
Cobb EMC’s lack of transparency and lack of accountability to customers (members who are meant to make informed decisions about the cooperatives operations) has culminated in it’s decision to build Plant Washington, a 850 MW coal facility. At a base cost of $2 billion dollars, the plant is to built by Power4Georgians, an LLC led by a Cobb Energy subsidiary; Allied Energy Services. Board of Directors decision to create the Power4Georgians partnership and to contract construction work out it’s Cobb Energy subsidiary was not announced to members until months after the arrangements were formalized.
With fossil fuel prices sky-rocketing across the board, the cooperative and its partners risk drastically increasing consumer rates for the gain of its for profit counterpart. Students and community members in the Cobb Alliance for Smart Energy (CASE), are working to ensure that risky plans like these don’t move forward. An election in the coming months will allow members to vote out some members of the current board, and may perhaps (as one of the approved resolutions states) allow members to vote on the Cobb EMC’s involvement in the Power4Georgians LLC