Washington Electric hosts 300 at annual meeting
Members hear about the state of their cooperative
MARIETTA, May 18, 2017 — More than 300 members and guests attended the 77th annual meeting of Washington Electric Cooperative at the headquarters office.
Trustee election results were announced, and members re-elected Vice Chairman Paul Fleeman, Eldon Miller, and Larry Ullman. Voting was conducted by mail prior to the meeting.
Board Vice Chairman Paul Fleeman opened the business meeting with a tribute to the late board Chairman David Miller, who passed away unexpectedly in April.
“David’s passing is a great loss for the Washington Electric family, its members, and the community,” Fleeman said. “David dedicated many years of service to this cooperative and was instrumental in many of the initiatives that have moved this organization forward. Those of us who worked closely with him will do our best to honor David’s legacy and carry forth in a manner of which he would have approved.”
Fleeman went on to report that the co-op’s operational focus has been on reliability, primarily through regular tree trimming and pole testing. In addition, the cooperative relies on American Electric Power (AEP) for its transmission service, and AEP’s aging equipment is getting a $330 million improvement plan over the next several years.
“The upgrades will improve service for members, reduce power interruptions, and speed up recovery when outages do occur,” he said. “Washington Electric continues to support AEP with this project and will cooperate in every way possible to help secure these benefits for our members.”
In his report, Washington Electric General Manager/CEO Jack Bragg echoed Fleeman’s sentiments about Miller.
“David was a great friend a great colleague,” Bragg said. “We have to resolve to continue the initiatives he started. We talked as a group and decided that was the best way to honor him.”
To that end, Bragg said the board would be putting together a plan to fill the remainder of Miller’s term. Members who are interested in joining the board should contact Bragg by June 1.
As Washington Electric looks to the future, Bragg said the co-op must invest in technological upgrades to improve customer service as well as electric service.
“We are embarking on an upgrade to our customer payment and information systems that will provide convenient access for our members to pay bills online, analyze usage data, set up alerts, and generally provide improved communications with our membership,” he said. “We want you to have a seamless experience, and that’s going to take a substantial investment. But our priority is to keep it cost-effective.”
Even as the cooperative invests in equipment and technology that will improve service, it’s able to return money to members. Board Secretary-Treasurer Betty Martin reported that Washington Electric returned more than $321,000 in capital credits to members in 2016. Because Washington Electric’s consumers are also owners of the co-op, excess revenue is returned to members as capital credits based on their consumption of electricity, when the board finds that the cooperative is financially able to do so.
Also at the meeting, Director of Marketing and Member Services Jennifer Greene recognized the co-op’s five scholarship winners, continuing a 60-year tradition of helping the children of co-op members further their education. Greene also recognized Washington Electric’s two delegates for the 2017 Washington Youth Tour, a statewide co-op program that sends high school students on a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C.