More than a hundred people gather in close proximity for the annual meeting aboard Washington State Ferries each spring as is evidenced by this file photo from 2016. (file photo)

More than a hundred people gather in close proximity for the annual meeting aboard Washington State Ferries each spring as is evidenced by this file photo from 2016. (file photo)

Safety first! OPALCO cancels annual member meeting – elections continue

  • Thu Mar 12th, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative

The Orcas Power and Light Cooperative Board of Directors announced on March 3 that the upcoming annual member meeting and all OPALCO gatherings are canceled until further notice in order to err on the side of caution in the face of tremendous uncertainty with the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the state of Washington. The announcement follows Gov. Inslee’s proclamation of a state of emergency. OPALCO is simply doing its part to help contain the spread of the virus and encourages other organizations to do the same.

While the election (online or by mail) will continue as planned, the candidate forums will be scaled back to one remote (via video conferencing) event on March 12, made available to members via Facebook live streaming. The other candidate forums on Orcas and Lopez islands are canceled. The annual member meeting on the ferry, scheduled for Saturday, April 18, is canceled. Board meetings will be conducted via remote video conferencing until further notice. Members can submit any comments and questions in advance of each meeting to communications@opalco.com.

“We considered the risk to our membership and staff,” said General Manager Foster Hildreth, “and decided it’s best to err on the side of caution and follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing—at least until the threat of the virus has passed. We look forward to getting out to meet with members this summer.”

Hildreth urges members to vote when their ballots arrive by mail or email beginning March 13. Member voting is essential to a cooperative democracy and a quorum of at least 10 percent of the members casting a ballot is required for a valid election. Please vote!

OPALCO strongly encourages members to sign up for AutoPay and/or to pay their bills through SmartHub (online) to limit unnecessary person-to-person contact. Beyond the health and safety benefits, AutoPay brings significant savings to OPALCO’s billing expense, which helps keep rates down for everyone.

At press time, there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 in San Juan County, and OPALCO wants to keep it that way. OPALCO’s primary goal is safety: the safety of its members, board, staff and their families. OPALCO staff will miss seeing you on the ferry for the beloved tradition of lunch and lively discussion—but please look for ways to stay engaged by participating in the save now, pay later “Switch it Up” program; signing up for the next Community Solar project (to be announced later this spring); and by engaging with your co-op on social media. Staff welcome your co-op comments, questions and ideas at communications@opalco.com.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 virus, we recommend the CDC website www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html. San Juan County Health Department is regularly updating their information www.sanjuanco.com/1668/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.