Annual Meeting Recap and Thoughts
We had a beautiful and sunny spring morning for our annual meeting this year. I appreciate everyone that took the time to stop by and visit with us. One of my favorite things about doing the drive-thru format of the annual meeting, is it allows me the opportunity to visit with most of the members who come through. I appreciate these interactions because they help me know what is on your mind and better understand people’s concerns. There were three topics this year that appeared to be at the top of everyone’s mind; our new building, reliability, and rates. Frankly, these topics have been at the top of my mind for the past couple of years as well, so let me address these items this month.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in our current office or warehouse realizes that we are in serious need of an upgrade. After many years of planning and construction, we are almost at that goal. By the time this article makes it to your mailbox, a move in date to our new facility should be just weeks away. This 17,075 square foot facility will house all our equipment, materials, and offices in one location. This will greatly improve the efficiency of our employees as well as improve our energy efficiency. With 5.3 acres of land, it will be a vast improvement over the 1 acre that we have been operating on for the past 85 years (50 in our current location). We are also looking forward to things like improved security for our equipment and employees, a safer facility for guests and employees with no steps or tripping hazards and a better location to receive deliveries. We look forward to finally getting to the new building and we are planning on holding an open house, to welcome all our members and friends to see the new site.
Many members mentioned concerns about the reliability of the electric grid. Some reliability issues are within our control. Things like upgrading aging infrastructure and doing maintenance on lines, or clearing trees from right of ways. Our crews do an excellent job of these things that we have direct control over. As a result of these preventative actions, our members have experienced very few reliability issues over the past several years. It’s the things that are out of our control which are more worrisome. Items like not having enough generation or transmission resources, tighter regulatory environment, extreme weather events, and external attacks on our infrastructure. These are much more complex issues and are difficult to fully address in the limited space I have in my articles. But rest assured, these are topics that we address on a regular basis with the Board of Directors, other Cooperative leaders, as well as our state and federal regulators. If any of these things are of a concern to you, or you just want to know more about what we are doing to address these issues, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss these concerns in depth with you.
Finally, the topic that is on everyone’s mind is where are our rates going. We have all seen increases in the grocery store, gas pump and nearly every other area of our life. Simply put, costs are going up all around us. Unfortunately, that’s true with your electric cooperative as well. We last had a rate increase seven years ago, in 2016. Since that time, we have continued to invest in system improvements to make important upgrades to our system. Building a new facility will contribute roughly ½ of a cent per kWh ($0.005/kWh) to our rate. The bigger driver affecting our rates is the increased cost of material over the past seven years. Most of these material increases have happened since 2020. Over the past few months, we have been working with our financial advisors and auditors to update our financial forecast prior to implementing a rate increase. I need to make sure that we have the most accurate, up to date information possible before implementing any change. While I don’t have an exact number yet, we will be announcing a rate increase in the next few months. The Board of Directors are diligently looking at our options to ensure we take the appropriate action to cover our costs to continue providing reliable service.
Until next month, stay safe and God bless.
Quote of the Month: “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States