Jody Dunklee on Board Service: "A Unique Opportunity to be Part of the Solution"
Jody Dunklee of Fairfax has served on the VEC Board of Directors since 2019 and represents West Zone at Large towns. (Alburgh, Bakersfield, Belvidere, Berkshire, Bolton, Cambridge, Eden, Enosburg, Essex, Fairfax, Fairfield, Fletcher, Franklin, Georgia, Grand Isle, Highgate, Hinesburg, Huntington, HydePark, Isle LaMotte, Jericho, Johnson, Milton, Montgomery, Morristown, North Hero, Richford, Richmond, Sheldon, Shelburne, South Hero, Starksboro, Stowe, St. Albans Town, St. George, Swanton, Underhill, Waterville, Westford, Williston.)
Below, Jody, whose seat is up for election in 2027, offers some thoughts on serving on the VEC Board.
What made you want to serve on the VEC Board of Directors? After working in engineering for many years, I became interested in how we use energy and how it can be done in a sustainable way. I place a lot of value on the natural world, and believe that technology is not only a tool to enable us to life more comfortably, but also a critical path to living in harmony with nature in the modern world. Technology in the energy sector is evolving quickly to meet this need - it is an interesting time! When I saw the request for director candidates at VEC, I knew right away it was something I wanted to be involved in. It wrapped up all these interests into something tangible and actionable, that I knew would be a valuable learning experience, while also serving a need in our community.
What’s been rewarding about being on the board? I am most proud of our commitment to source emissions-free power to the VEC membership as of 2023, and 100 percent renewable by 2030. Vermont is a leader in the country in the clean energy transition and it is exciting to be a part of. There is a lot of work to do and considerations to take into account, but as board members, we set that vision on behalf of the members. I also love that VEC is a non-profit, cooperative business. In addition to the community centered operating principles, VEC does not make money from the members. Rates are only used to cover operating costs and infrastructure, and the rest is returned to members at the end of the year, provided the co-op is in a strong enough financial position.
What are the challenges? Balancing the need to innovate and transition to clean energy while also keeping rates low.
What would you advise to anyone considering running? I would encourage people from all backgrounds to consider serving on the VEC board. Diverse viewpoints are important for problem solving, and more representative of the membership. I would also advise that, unless you are already involved in the utility sector, there is a lot of learning in the first couple of years. There are many opportunities for formal courses and you will also learn from attending meetings, but new directors should also plan to dedicate time to learning about the areas of the business they are not familiar with. As a director, you will have to have high-level understanding in many aspects. Serving on the Board has been a great experience and gratifying work. Electricity is so important to our daily lives - this is a unique opportunity to be a part of the solution for the VEC community, and for future generations.