Jemez Co-op Withholds Records from Members, Media

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Jemez Co-op Contract Attorney Charles Garcia wrote Monday to Trustee David Salazar’s attorney A. Blair Dunn that any communication from Salazar had to go through Dunn because Salazar is currently involved in litigation against the Board, including all communication regarding the litigation, as well as any document requests.

The Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative rejected a July 31 request from the Rio Grande SUN for a copy of its Power Purchase Agreement with solar company Cuba Jemez, LLC.

Cuba Jemez is the company planning to build a 2.5 megawatt solar array in Alcalde.

The company will sell the power back to the Co-op for six cents per kilowatt hour, Co-op Board of Trustees Secretary and District 5 Trustee Nick Naranjo said previously. He was president of the Board when he made the comment.

The Agreement should contain the terms of the contract between the Co-op and Cuba Jemez, with such details as the length of the contract and how much the Co-op will pay for each kilowatt hour.

Co-op interim general manager Andrew Chávez rejected the request and wrote in an Aug. 12 letter that Co-op Policy 136 allows the organization to “protect trade secrets or other information that is privileged, confidential, competitive or proprietary, as well as information concerning matters that are under negotiation with third parties, until such time as the matter is resolved.”

The original request filed by the SUN states the purpose for request was to learn more about the financial health and viability of the Co-op.

Chávez wrote that the Agreement “provides little to no information” about the Co-op’s financial health and viability.

Instead, he wrote, the financial report presented at the Board’s monthly public meeting and the annual financial audit would “provide a significant amount of financial information that goes far beyond what you will find in any wholesale power supply (Agreement.)”

The Agreement also contains confidentiality provisions, Chávez wrote.

“The terms of this (Agreement) are legally binding contractual obligations for (the Co-op), including the provision requiring confidentiality of the contract,” he wrote. “For (the Co-op) to do otherwise would result in (the Co-op’s) breach of the contract, which the Co-op will not do.”

Other answers

District 6 Member-Owner Heather Nordquist filed a request March 1 for any contracts, written agreements, emails and memoranda of understanding between the Co-op and Cuba Jemez. She asked for the same documents for Consolidated Solar Technologies, LLC and Mosher Enterprises, Inc. Jerry Mosher owns all three companies.

She also asked for any internal Co-op documents showing approval of the Cuba Jemez contract.

Nordquist originally sent her request to former general manager Donna Montoya-Trujillo, who told Nordquist she was working with legal counsel “regarding the accessibility” of the documents.

“I believe that there exists proprietary information in the contract,” Montoya-Trujillo wrote in her March 28 response email.

Nordquest sent an email to Montoya-Trujillo March 28 stating the proprietary information could be redacted from the documents.

Nordquist began emailing Chávez about her pending request after Montoya-Trujillo resigned May 17.

She asked for the status of her request in a May 24 email. Four days later, May 28, Chávez replied that he would get an update from an unnamed Co-op employee.

Nordquist sent a second email to Chávez June 23 asking whether or not she would receive copies of the requested documents.

“I do not understand how it takes more than six months to redact whatever proprietary information exists from this document,” she wrote.

Chávez sent a letter to Nordquist, also dated Aug. 12, which states she had to use the correct form when requesting Co-op financial information.

Nordquist used this form in the original request she sent to Montoya-Trujillo.

She replied to Chávez Tuesday and included a copy of her original request.

“I find it wholly unacceptable that the (Co-op) cannot provide this information, at least in redacted form, in less than seven months,” she wrote.

Chávez did not return a phone message Tuesday inquiring about Nordquist’s request for financial documents.

Other denials

Co-op officials are also denying financial information requests from Board trustees.

District 4 Trustee David Salazar said during a Tuesday telephone interview that he asked for copies of all trustee vouchers at the July Board meeting, but has yet to receive the documents.

Co-op Contract Attorney Charles Garcia, of Cuddy & McCarthy, LLC, wrote in a Monday letter to Salazar’s attorney A. Blair Dunn that any communication from Salazar had to go through him because Salazar is currently involved in litigation against the Board.

This includes all communication regarding the litigation, as well as any document requests, Garcia wrote.

Dunn responded to Garcia the same day and wrote in email that since Salazar is a member-owner in good standing with the Co-op, he has the same rights as any other member-owner to request information.

Dunn wrote Salazar would not funnel any requests through him.

“Again though you have denied (his request), this seems to be yet another example of your law firm taking steps to increase the cost of litigation for the sake of your law firm and contrary to the best interest of the members of the Co-op,” Dunn wrote to Garcia.

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