Washington Electric members hear about system upgrades
DePuy elected to board of trustees
MARIETTA, May 18, 2018 — As soon as this fall, Washington Electric Cooperative members can look forward to fewer blinks and outages, thanks to a joint transmission project between the co-op and American Electric Power (AEP).
That project, with the first of four substations to be rebuilt by the fall, will be complete in about two years. Co-op consumers heard about reliability and much more at their 78th annual meeting May 17 at the Washington Electric headquarters office in Marietta.
Trustee election results revealed that Gale DePuy of Marietta was re-elected to a three-year term on the co-op board. Voting was conducted by mail prior to the meeting.
Board Chairman Paul Fleeman opened the business meeting with an overview of the cooperative’s achievements in 2017. He noted that the co-op’s operational focus has been on reliability, primarily through regular tree trimming and pole testing and by reviewing the system to identify ways to prevent or reduce the length of power outages.
Fleeman explained that the cooperative relies on AEP for transmission service, and the joint project to improve reliability for all electric consumers in southeastern Ohio is currently underway. The South Olive substation in Noble County is the first of four Washington Electric Cooperative substations that will be rebuilt to accommodate AEP’s higher-voltage transmission lines. The South Olive substation is expected to be completed this fall, with the remaining three – Marietta, Rinard Mills, and Dart – to be rebuilt within the next two years.
In his report, Washington Electric General Manager/CEO Jack Bragg said much of 2017 was spent on getting the cooperative in the proper financial position for the project, which will require an investment of $10 million.
“Moving into the future, the challenges that await are numerous, but we are confident that they will be met,” Bragg said. “This investment, along with improvements we are making to our distribution system and the related right-of-way, will help us reduce long-term maintenance costs and reduce unplanned outages and restoration time.”
Board Secretary-Treasurer Betty Martin reported that the cooperative retired $362,000 in capital credits to members in 2017. 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 four scholarship winners, continuing a 60-year tradition of helping the children of co-op members further their education. Scholarship winners were Katey DePuy of Caldwell, Meredith Coil of Marietta, Isabella Brown of Graysville, and Devyn Latture of Marietta. Green also recognized Olivia Zalar of Caldwell and Drake Berentz of Lower Salem, Washington Electric’s delegates for the 2018 Youth Tour, a statewide co-op program that sends high school students on a weeklong leadership trip to Washington, D.C.