“We get a lot of questions from members when we start talking about our Annual Meeting of Members,” says Penelope Hinson, manager of public relations, marketing and energy management for Horry Electric. “Once the notices hit mailboxes, our call volume increases.”
“The questions from year-to-year are basically the same,” says Hinson, adding that responses to the questions are also the same.
The plans for the Annual Meeting of Members are all based on requirements of the Bylaws of Horry Electric Cooperative, Inc. and on South Carolina Code of Laws pertaining to electric cooperatives.
“It’s the plans we make related to acheiving the quorum requirement established by the South Carolina General Assembly that generate the most questions,” says Hinson. The same quorum requirement is stated in the Bylaws of the Cooperative.
SC Code, Section 33-49-430 states five percent of all members present in person shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business at all meetings of the members, unless the bylaws prescribe the presence of a greater percentage of the members for a quorum.
“As our CEO explained in his column in South Carolina Living this month, Horry Electric will need to have a minimum of 2,734 members registered this year,” says Hinson. Registering and voting on cooperative business matters in person is also a requirement of South Carolina Code of Laws. “We have to do something creative in order to attract that many people to a business meeting on a Tuesday night.”
Registration Gifts that are sure to appeal to a large number of people, entertainment and prize drawings for registered members that include a retired fleet vehicle as the GRAND PRIZE have proven to be successful methods for attracting large crowds.
“Registration Gifts can make or break an Annual Meeting of Members,” says Hinson. The year Horry Electric failed to meet the quorum requirement, the Registration Gift was an electric food chopper. “The electric bill credit is a huge hit with members,” says Hinson.
Why do we have an Annual Meeting?
It is a business meeting. The purpose is to update Members on matters concerning their Cooperative and to elect representatives to the board of trustees.
Who decides when we have the Annual Meeting?
Per our bylaws, the time and date are decided on by the board of trustees. Prior to the event this year, we had to work with the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on their available schedule.
At our new site, The HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina University, the event will be on a more consistent schedule. From 2013 forward, it will be the first Tuesday in May following graduation at CCU. The date for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Members will be May 13, 2014.
Why all the gifts?
In order to conduct business, a quorum must be present at the Annual Meeting. The prize drawing and the registration gift are both intended to encourage Members to attend and participate in the Annual Meeting so the quorum requirement can be met.
Why advertise and send out notices about the Annual Meeting?
In order to conduct business, we must have a quorum. The notices and advertising remind Members that the meeting is coming up and encourages them to attend. This year, because we were moving to a new site, we increased our efforts to get the word out to members.
Why have it at Coastal Carolina University?
Coastal Carolina University is a central place for the majority of our membership. The location of the Convention Center prohibited a number of people in the county from attending the meeting. We surveyed members who did not attend the meeting to find out what kept them from attending. Two major issues were the time allowed for registration and the location of the meeting. We were able to adjust the hours of registration from 3 until 7 to noon until 7, but the location of the meeting remained an issue. We searched for other venues, but there just wasn’t anything that could accommodate an event as large as our Annual Meeting. The HTC Center has been our first and only viable option.
Why can’t I register for my Mother so she can get the electric bill credit when I go to the meeting to register and receive my own? She’s not able to attend the meeting this year because she’s sick in the hospital.
The Registration Gift is available only to Members who register, in person, at the Annual Meeting of Members between the hours of noon and 7 p.m. on the day of Annual Meeting. It’s a reward to the people who take the time to register and take part in the business meeting of their Cooperative.
My child is out of the country, but I have Power of Attorney to conduct business on their behalf. Can I register for them and get the $25 credited to their account?
Only if documentation of Power of Attorney can be provided and only if the document contains a notary statement that he or she witnessed the signer’s execution of the document or attest to the identity of the signer.
With a notarized Power of Attorney, the Cooperative can count the Member as present, give the Power of Attorney holder a voting ballot and give the $25 credit to the account.
- In the bylaws, Annual Meeting specifics are outlined in Article III, Meeting of Members.
- In SC Code, requirements are spelled out in Sections 33-49-420; 33-49-430 and 33-49-440.
RELATED STORY: A little Annual Meeting history