North Western Electric Cooperative members exercised their democratic member control when they re-elected two trustees at the cooperative’s 2016 annual meeting, April 23, at Edon Northwest School.
Kim Shoup, District 3, and Richard Polter, District 7, were returned to the board. About 600 members of the cooperative and guests attended the meeting.
President/CEO Darin Thorp reported that the cooperative’s goal is to continue improving all aspects of service to its members, including the launch of SmartHub, a new online bill-payment portal that offers much more.
“The co-op will be able to keep members better informed about outages, restoration times and the initial causes of the outage,” Thorp said. With SmartHub, members can manage their accounts by paying bills online, tracking their electricity use as compared to the weather, and determining how to make changes that will ultimately lower their energy bills. Thorp encouraged members to sign up for SmartHub and register on the co-op’s website, www.nwec.com.
Board Chairman Andrew Farnham reported on NWEC’s return of excess margins, or the money that remains after bills have been paid, back to members in the form of capital credits. In 2015, the board of trustees approved capital credits refunds of $1,018,982.
“Cooperatives are different in that we return any excess margins to our members,” Farnham said. “The total capital credits refunded to date now exceed $15.1 million. Both estate and general capital credits refunds have been made annually since 1978.”
Farnham also discussed NWEC’s “Concern for Community,” one of the seven principles that guide all cooperatives.
“We work together with you, our members, on efforts like Operation Round Up, which rounds up members’ electric bills to the nearest dollar and donates the spare change to local groups, organizations, schools, and individuals. 2015 saw $29,725 donated, all right in our area. NWEC members have donated over $377,000 since 2001.”
Demonstrating NWEC’s commitment to its members and communities, Farnham highlighted Duane Peugeot, a lineman who celebrated his 45th anniversary working for the co-op. Peugeot was recently recognized by his fellow employees as a loyal, knowledgeable, skilled employee with concern for members. Farnham also recognized the co-op employees for the hard work they do for the members.
Members then heard that wholesale power rates have recently stabilized and will remain stable for the next several years, according to Pat O’Loughlin, president & CEO of Buckeye Power, NWEC’s wholesale power supplier, and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, NWEC’s statewide trade organization.
In addition, power production is cleaner than ever, using proven, available technology, O’Loughlin said. Carbon dioxide emissions are down nearly 16 percent over the past decade, and the transition toward greater reliance on natural gas and renewables is underway.
Also at the meeting, NWEC’s 2016 scholarship winners and Washington, D.C., Youth Tour delegates were recognized. Winning scholarships were Claire Keber, Tinora High School, and Travis Lysaght, Hicksville High School (first place), and Tayla Davis, Tinora High School, and Brayden Dietrich, Fairview High School (second place). The winner of NWEC’s new Power Up scholarship, for a student from Four County Career Center, was Autumn Rowe. And Breanna Davis from Edon High School won a Touchstone Energy® Achievement Scholarship.
Rachel and Rebecca Schroeder of Edgerton High School will go on the weeklong tour of Washington, D.C., sponsored by NWEC, in June.