PEC: Bertram office not closing

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By Christine Bolaños

BERTRAM — A Pedernales Electric Cooperative leader said its Bertram office is not closing in response to recent rumors stating otherwise.

PEC President James Oakley said that during its July 21 meeting, the board agreed to close four walk-in offices in the future, but the Bertram office is not among those locations. There was talk of compressing the Bertram, Liberty Hill and Cedar Park offices at the meeting, however.

Oakley emphasized this does not mean the Bertram office is closing and that these changes would be long-term. He could not say whether that means a change or downsize of staff, a change or sharing of resources at the offices.

“I can tell you definitively that the Bertram offices are not closing. There was a vote taken to close some other locations that are walk-in facilities and one is already closed. Among those is Lampasas and Lake Travis (Bulverde, Manchaca, Blanco),” Oakley said. “There was talk about compressing Bertram for services with Liberty Hill as well as Cedar Park. That allows for management to use the location that best serves the needs of the co-op. We might move one location to another location or bring in another location.”

Compression, he said, allows flexibility for future use.

“Compressing Liberty Hill, Cedar Park and Bertram locations does not mean closure. We’re talking about a couple of years from now. Long-term planning for facilities and what not,” Oakley continued.

The third part of action taken on July 21 was to move forward with construction at the Marble Falls PEC site.

“The facility in Marble Falls has to be rebuilt because of fungus issues. It all fits into the mix and the revamping of the headquarters office. It’s all within a large conversation about the current facilities and what the future needs are,” Oakley said.

He reiterated there is no cause for concern because any changes occurring at the Liberty Hill, Bertram or Cedar Park offices would be down the line.

However, that concern continues with persistent rumors that the Bertram office is closing. Oakley attributes that to people misinterpreting what compression really means.

“I think that was a different interpretation of what compression meant. Some staff disseminated a version of that that wasn’t accurate,” he insisted.

Meanwhile Bertram Mayor Dickie Allen believes this is good news for the City of Bertram if it’s true. The PEC office is the largest employer in town, according to the Mayor.

“We look forward to a long life with PEC,” he said.

The Independent reached out to the PEC communications office for comment about the Board’s recent actions. They did not directly respond to any questions regarding the Bertram office.

“This is an ongoing dialogue between Co-op members and PEC management to ensure any recommendations regarding the future plans regarding PEC’s facilities best meet the needs of the entire membership,” Kay Jarvis, PEC Communications Manager wrote in an emailed statement. “PEC members increasingly choose to conduct their business with the Cooperative through automatic payments, online transactions and phone calls. Management has noted this and also a steady decline in the use of walk-in and drive-through facilities.

“In October, PEC will be launching new services that will allow members to manage their accounts even more easily and conveniently pay bills on the go. There will also be an option to make payments over the phone 24/7, seven days a week through a secure phone line,” Jarvis wrote.

A video recording of the July 21 meeting is available on PEC’s website.

At press time Wednesday evening, Jarvis sent an email to The Independent stating there are no immediate plans to close any office. “Current plans do also outline the closure of the Bulverde and Manchaca offices sometime in the future,” she wrote.

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