Washington Electric Cooperative member-owners elected Gale DePuy to another three-year term on the Board of Trustees.
Election results were announced at the 81st Annual Meeting of Members, which took place via a live stream on the co-op’s Facebook page on May 20. 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 2020.
“Washington Electric continues to look for opportunities to improve reliability and provide the type of high quality members expect and deserve,” Fleeman said. “Proactive measures such as right-of-way clearing, pole testing, and upgrading lines and other equipment require a substantial investment, but consistent application of these programs reduces the potential for power outages while also making it safer, easier, and quicker for our linemen to restore service when outages occur.”
The co-op cleared right-of-way in the Brownsville, Graysville, Bloomfield, Dalzell, and Germantown areas, and spraying occurred in the areas of Archers Fork, Shay Ridge, and Rainbow Creek. As part of an ongoing preventive maintenance program, WEC also tested approximately 3,000 poles in the Sharon, Caldwell, and Sarahsville areas to identify and replace bad poles before they become problems that can lead to power outages and safety concerns.
The year 2020 also saw the completion of the Rouse and Highland Ridge substations, which combined provide service to 2,500 electric accounts.
“The reliability improvements brought about by this investment are tremendous and will benefit these members for many years,” Fleeman said.
Board Secretary-Treasurer Betty Martin reported that the cooperative retired $381,000 in capital credits to members in 2020. 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.
Martin also noted that net margins for 2020 were approximately $1.1 million, with close to $600,000 coming from external sources such as interest and capital credits from other cooperatives of which Washington Electric is a member. More than $1.3 million was spent on right-of-way maintenance.
In his report, General Manager/CEO Jeff Triplett spoke about the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the closing of the co-op’s lobby, supply chain disruptions, and shifting to new work practices to keep members and employees safe.
“Despite these challenges, Washington Electric was able to successfully continue serving our members and keep the lights on,” he said. “That is a testament to the dedication of the cooperative’s employees, and I’d like to thank each of them for their commitment to our members.”
Triplett explained that a significant portion of members’ electric bills is related to demand – how much power the co-op’s system draws from the electric grid at certain times. When a new high demand, or peak, is set, the wholesale cost of electricity rises. Air conditioning load contributes substantially to Washington Electric’s demand, and Triplett urged members to consider reducing or delaying their energy consumption during the summer months. Raising the thermostat a few degrees and using appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers after 6 p.m. can reduce costs for the co-op and its members.
Triplett thanked members for their patience and support through a difficult year. The co-op plans to resume in-personal annual meetings in 2022.