Almost a week after the Valley Electric Association’s annual meeting, Ken Derschan has resigned as the cooperative’s board president.
At the meeting, members accused the Pahrump utility’s board of hiding finances and voiced support for removing board members.
Derschan, who represented Sandy Valley on the board, cited personal reasons for his decision, according to a Valley Electric statement.
The utility has faced a series of allegations in recent months following its announcement of a rate hike.
Valley Electric raised its rates 9.9 percent in March, despite promising to keep rates stable through 2024. On Feb. 22, shortly after the rate hike was announced, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search of the cooperative, citing allegations of sexual harassment and financial cover-ups against former CEO Tom Husted. The next week, CEO Angela Evans was arrested on charges of embezzling from the utility.
Accounting firm Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss released an audit of the cooperative this month. During the meeting David Copeland, a partner at the Texas-based firm, said it found no wrongdoing in its fraud inquires.
Derschan’s resignation comes after former board member John Maurer announced his retirement from the board April 9, citing family health issues, according to a Valley Electric statement. Derschan began serving as president in May 2018, after being appointed to the board of directors in August 2015.
“We are relieved Mr. Derschan decided to step aside and allow another member to take his seat,” said Ken Johnson, one of the organizers of VEA Members for Change, a group of cooperative members working to oust board members.
Johnson said his group is working to hold a meeting June 1 to consider removing board member Pete Gazsy. According to Valley Electric’s website, Gazsy has served on the board of directors since 2008.
“If we are successful … half of the Board would be new,” Johnson said via email. “That is a very good start. We will then move on to recalling the remaining 3 Directors to give the Board a completely fresh perspective to begin healing the cooperative.”
Michael Hengel, Valley Electric’s executive vice president of corporate communications, said members would have to figure out logistics such as when and where the meeting would take place, but “the members elect all the board members, and the members can recall all the board members.”
Hengel is a former editor-in-chief of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Valley Electric is accepting applications for the open Sandy Valley board seat through May 30. The applicant must be a resident of Sandy Valley, Mountain Springs or Trout Canyon.