On the night of Tuesday 12th April 2022, 25 CoPower customer members gathered via video conference to workshop this year’s participatory budgeting process. Here’s the meeting agenda we followed.
We started with a brief and discussion around the current spend year’s spend, and CoPower’s overall financial position (here’s the profit and loss statement). This provided the basis for discussion around our work as a co-operative given how many customer members have signed up over the last few months. There was also a really great question about whether the increase in income would lead to rushed spending. Our Treasurer noted that in this case CoPower is allocating funds to pre-existing projects so we should be able to avoid this real issue.
From there we shifted to working through projected income for the upcoming democratic budgeting period (income earned from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023). There was some brief discussion about the renewal of the commercial terms with Energy Locals. It was raised that it was CoPower’s preference to have all key terms shared with the customer members but that we were still awaiting Energy Local’s position on what parts of their terms they would disclose on the open market. We hope that a written brief on this matter will be available to customer members in the next couple of weeks. Crucially though, the new terms will include gas after the overwhelming vote of customer members, and it will include the $50 refer a friend bonus on an ongoing basis.
A realistic projected income of $150,000 (with an upper estimate of $175,000) for the democratic budgeting period was tabled. This was made on the basis of the current 3,000 customer members growing at a rate of net 4 customer members per day for the rest of the year (as we’ve seen this could change radically at any point during the year).
We then discussed the draft budget reinvestment strategy. You’ll notice that the investment spend is broken up into critical spending (that which we need keep the co-operative going on the current basis), high priority and lower priority. It’s done this way so that we can honour the proposed commitment of $100,000 to be democratically allocated via project proposals if we reach the realistic income estimate.
There’s an open call for customer members to reach us on [email protected] if you have other ideas about how we could spend to grow the cooperative. It was also clarified that customer members were free to put forward project proposals in future rounds that involve reinvesting back into the cooperative.
There was also discussion around the rules and participatory budgeting process itself. A suggestion from the virtual floor was to clarify that funding should not be given to political parties. There was general agreement that this should be added to the rules.
Three matters were then put to a vote/poll of attendees for decision:
That CoPower’s estimated $175,000 electricity revenue for the 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023 period shall be allocated as follows:
Any additional revenue will be set aside for allocation at a subsequent meeting of customer members, which can include adding it to the next budget cycle.