Nelson spoke only briefly about the dissolution of the for-profit Cobb Energy and said the forensic audit will reveal the total losses related to Energy, though some have speculated the amount could be near $60 million. Today, he said, Cobb EMC is focused on cost-effective delivery of electricity to its 170,000-plus members.
“Think where we’ve come since last July,” Nelson said. “The whole world has flipped.”
Cobb EMC also owns Gas South, a natural-gas marketer, and has annual revenues between the two of more than $700 million. Nelson said both companies are profitable on a whole-year basis, with gas peaking in winter and electricity peaking in summer.
“We have negative months and we have positive months,” he said.
Crowell, who will serve as board chairman through the September annual meeting, said open board meetings are not off the table, but he worries that would give a few members who can attend special access to the board at the expense of most other members.
He also reiterated that the forensic audit will be done, but will take some time “to do it right.”
Of his predecessors on the board, Crowell stopped short of agreeing they took orders from the previous company head, Dwight Brown, rather than the other way around. But when talking about best-practices corporate governance resources the company is starting to use, Crowell said those resources had “been deliberately ignored by some of the previous folk at Cobb EMC.”
Of Brown’s pay package, which some have called obscene, Crowell agreed, “It was excessive, to say the least.”
“It’s not just the numbers, it’s how they were arrived at,” he said. “Those are the kinds of things you don’t want to ever see happen again.”
And although Crowell and Nelson both said there is a lot of changing and updating to be done, Crowell wouldn’t say the company was a mess.
“There’s a million things to be done in part because some things need to be changed,” Crowell said. “Bylaws and policies need to be updated, the forensic audit needs to be started. We need to set parameters for the CEO and how we evaluate his performance. … I don’t think it’s fair to say the place was a mess. The operational side of Cobb EMC is just stellar.”