Members exercised one of their rights as owners of the cooperative Saturday, April 6, when they elected two of their own to serve on the board of trustees and voted on changes to the code of regulations at the 77th Annual Meeting of North Western Electric Cooperative.
Kim Shoup was re-elected to serve as a trustee for North Western Electric’s District 3 and Dick Polter will continue to serve the cooperative as the trustee for District 7.
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Members also approved four changes to the cooperative’s code of regulations during the meeting held at Fairview High School. The code changes covered continuity of service, qualifications for serving as a trustee, means by which board members can be notified of meetings and correcting a title in a section pertaining to the board chairman’s duties.
Board Chairman Andy Farnham told members that North Western continued in 2012 to return capital credits to members.
“We again paid out general capital credit refunds totaling $1,052,000 and refunds to estates totaling $132,400. Since the beginning of this co-op, we have now exceeded $12 million refunded to our members,” Farnham said.
“We have lowered our administrative and general expenses and also our interest expense compared to 2011,” Farnham added. “The board and the staff are continuing with our plans to keep costs to a minimum and still provide reliable power and service to our members.”
NWEC Manager Darin Thorp talked with members about how the cooperative keeps it focus on the members.
“Our service goes beyond the poles and wires. It is also important that we offer additional value that has a positive impact on everyone in our community,” Thorp said.
Thorp told members that North Western Electric is introducing the Co-op Connections® Card in July. The program offers members discounts at local and national businesses and is free to members. “While our number one priority is keeping the lights on, North Western is committed to bringing additional value to our members and the communities we serve,” he said.
Thorp noted the cooperative’s transition to automated metering infrastructure is nearing completion, with the areas served by the Center, Montpelier and Edgerton substations scheduled to have the conversion completed by the end of the year.
“This conversion will give our co-op more timely data and eventually allow you to access your accounts online and see your daily use,” Thorp said. “The more information we can provide to you, the more informed decisions you can make about your use and ultimately help you lower your electric bills.”
Members heard a favorable financial report from Tim Yoder, with Shultz Huber and Associates.
“Operations margins were very good — revenues exceeded expenses by $1,707,894,” Yoder said. “Overall the company is in a strong financial position.”
Members also were given an update on issues across Ohio by Pat O’Loughlin, vice president of engineering and COO of Buckeye Power, Inc., the generation-and-transmission cooperative supplying wholesale power to North Western and the other distribution cooperatives in Ohio.
“We’ve reduced over 90 percent of the emissions from burning coal to produce electricity,” O’Loughlin said. “It has come at a cost. About $20 a month in your electric bill goes for all those environmental projects. I’m glad to report they are working well.
“We are going to have to continue to defend our right to use all of our natural resources, including coal, to produce electricity for your benefit,” O’Loughlin said. “Some of you are already involved in our political action committee and we appreciate your involvement. You can also stay informed by reading Country Living magazine.”
Also as part of the 77th annual meeting, winners of several youth programs were announced.
Anna Ritchey-Moore, a sophomore at Bryan High School, and Bradley Grimm, a junior at Hilltop High School, were named as North Western Electric Cooperatives representatives on the upcoming Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.
Britanny Conkey (Fairview High School) was announced as the winner of the $1,000 Touchstone Energy® Achievement Scholarship.
Four winners were named in the Children of Members Scholarship Competition. Anthony Weber (Edgerton High School) and Sabrina Brown (Edon High School) each won the $1,500 first-place awards and Abigail Hill (Edon High School) and Ryan Oberlin (Bryan High School) won the second-place awards of $750.
Blaine Thorp, son of NWEC manager Darin Thorp and a senior at Montpelier High School, was recognized for winning a Louise Freeland Scholarship awarded by the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., to children of cooperative employees or trustees.
The meeting concluded with the awarding of several door prizes, including energy credits and a television.
North Western Electric Cooperative serves nearly 6,000 members in Williams, Defiance, Henry and Paulding counties.