Record numbers of members turned out for West Central Electric’s 73rd annual meeting, with an official registration of 1,023 members and more than 2,500 in attendance.
During the business meeting, members considered and passed 554-398 a bylaw amendment brought forth by member petition which redraws the cooperative district boundaries. Under the bylaw change, the cooperative will be divided into four physical districts, with two directors from each district. A fifth “at-large” district, will allow for one director from anywhere in the service area.
Members also participted in the election of directors. Incumbents Paul Nolte, Clark Bredehoeft and Dale Jarman were (L-r) Paul Nolte, Clark Bredehoeft, Dale Jarmanelected to serve three-year terms.
In his annual report to the members, General Manager Mike Gray updated members on operations and maintenance as well as the financial state of the cooperative. He reported that only 97 new services were added to the system in 2011, down from 115 in 2010. To date, the cooperative has added 50 new services in 2012.
“These numbers tell us that the economy, or at least the housing market, is still sluggish,” he said.
Gray told members that maintenance and system upgrades have been the top priority of construction crews over the past year, and that a new Construction Work Plan, as well as long-range plans to outline system improvements will begin in the coming months.
On the financial side, Gray told members that while revenues were less than expected, expenses were also down. He mentioned that the cooperative finished 2011 in good shape with margins just over $1 million. He addressed the April rate increase to cover an increase in wholesale power costs, and said at this time, he doesn’t feel that a rate increase will be necessary in 2013 as long as the weather cooperates and the EPA does not do anything that would cause wholesale power costs to go up.
Members also heard from Board President Clark Bredehoeft, who told them that cooperatives are helping to build a better world. He outlined youth progrms such as the Rural Electric Youth Tour, the Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience and scholarship programs as ways the cooperative supports the youth of our communities. He also informed members that while some of the cooperative's competitors have recently applied for as much as a 14 percent increase in rates, WCE is remaining stable with only a 7 percent increase. Bredehoeft told members that a recent survey shows WCE rates as the second lowest in the NW Electric group, and slightly lower than the closest competitor, KCPL.
“Not only is it the goal of your board of directors to make the cooperative the very best it can be for every one of our members, it is also our desire to build a better world around us,” said Bredehoeft, drawing reference to the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives’ theme.