Co-op rolls out info about broadband | Guest Column

Winnie Adams - Journal file photo
Winnie Adams
— image credit: Journal file photo

By Winnie Adams, OPALCO board of directors

A group of co-op members on Lopez Island, organized as the Lopez Chapter of Citizens for Safe Technology, recently submitted a petition asking for a change to the Orcas Power & Light Cooperative bylaws related to the construction of wireless facilities.

The number of signatures was adequate to meet the bylaw requirements for member initiated amendments (Article XIV, Section 2); however, the proposed language of the bylaw change was ruled impermissible by OPALCO’s legal counsel on the basis that is was in conflict with OPALCO’s articles of incorporation.

The letter sent to Citizens for Safe Technology is available to view at http://tinyurl.com/cfbemxh.

This letter is a legal response because, as a cooperative formed and organized under Washington state law, we are sometimes compelled to respond formally and for the record.

However, on a higher level, I want to make it clear that the member concerns being raised are taken seriously and will factor into the decision about whether or not it makes sense for OPALCO to move forward with the broadband initiative. We hear loud and clear that some members are concerned about the use of wireless technology. We will be talking with members and seeking solutions when we get to the stage of finalizing system design.

We have begun a member engagement effort, meeting with community groups and organizing opportunities for member dialogue and input into the process. Please let us know if you have a group we can meet with.

We have also made the findings of our extensive study available online, at www.opalco.com, and are compiling resources and Q&A for member consideration on our website. A group of co-op members has created an online forum to discuss the project at www.sjcbroadbandforum.org.

This project will move forward only if there is substantial support (more than half of the membership) from the community. It’s a complicated and multi-faceted initiative and we know that people have a lot of questions. Please stay tuned; we will be publicizing opportunities to ask questions and give feedback on the project on multiple islands.

Check the website (www.opalco.com) often for updates, and contact us at broadband@opalco.com if you have a specific issues or question you’d like us to consider.


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