2018 Annual Meeting
Throw away those old inefficient light bulbs and install the new energy efficient LED light bulbs the Co-op sent you. That was the message delivered at this year’s Annual Meeting.
With nearly 400 United members and family members filling the hall to near capacity, Board Vice Chairman, Tim Burkett called the Co-op’s 81st Annual Meeting to order promptly at 7:00 PM. Tim welcomed the members to their Annual Meeting and thanked the members and their guests for taking time from their busy schedule to be in attendance. Tim extended the Co-op’s appreciation to many members who faithfully attend Annual Meeting each year, and offered a special welcome to all the new members who may have been in attendance for the first time. He also thanked the Clearfield County Dairy Princess Committee for providing the attendees with their excellent milk punch, cheese, snacks and fruit as they have for the past number of years.
Eileen Pisaneschi, the Board Secretary/Treasurer read the Official Annual Meeting Notice that appeared in the May issue of Penn Lines which was mailed to all members of United Electric April 27, 2018. “The Annual Meeting will be held May 16, 2018 at 7:00PM at the Brady Township Community Center in Luthersburg, PA,” read Secretary Pisaneschi. “At the time of the mailing there were 16,169 members of the Cooperative, and all members were sent the notice along with the 2017 Annual Report.”
After motions from the floor to approve the 2017 Annual Meeting Minutes and the 2017 Financial Report, Vice Chairman Burkett reported that, “United Electric finished 2017 in a sound financial and operational position.” He expressed his and the Board of Director’s gratitude to all the members who support the cooperative in their efforts to improve the system not only to meet our current member’s needs, but also to meet the future electric needs of the area. He also thanked the management of United Electric, and the employees of the cooperative who all continue to pull together for the betterment of our Co-op. He stated that, “the Board of Directors remains dedicated to their commitment to continued system improvement, and take advantage of every opportunity to assure that the co-op is run in the most efficient manner possible”.
Following his remarks, Vice Chairman Burkett introduced United’s President and CEO, Brenda Swartzlander. After thanking all the members for their interest in their cooperative, Brenda provided the members with a brief summary of a number of initiatives and services implemented to enhance the coop’s efficiency and to make it easier for members to interact with the cooperative.
Brenda updated the members on the progress of the new metering system which is in the final stages of completion. “We currently have 15,500 TWAC meters installed with 3,500 meters remaining to install by the end of the year,” she explained. “With this system in place we can now download a reading around midnight each night in order to provide members with 24 hour usage information. This system also allows us to get a real time reading from the meter which allows us to know if there is power to the meter, or if there is possibly an outage at that location…this is especially useful during an outage situation when we are trying to be sure power has been restored to all the accounts in an area.”
Brenda also updated the members on the Smart Hub program she introduced at Annual Meeting a couple of years ago. “Smart Hub allows members to access their account information from their computer, tablet or smart phone,” She explained. “We currently have 7,527 members registered on Smart Hub. Members are using the site to check on their usage status, to pay bills on line or set themselves up for automatic backdrafts, or to report an outage directly into our outage management system.”
“Initiating systems and programs to go beyond simply providing you with safe, reliable and affordable electric service is not the only thing that sets United Electric apart from other utility companies you may have done business with,” said Brenda. “As a not for profit cooperative, United Electric returns any excess margins (or profits) to our members. United Electric has returned capital credits of over $9.6-million to our members over the last 9 years. We returned $1,078,000 in 2017 alone. These capital credits which are returned are from many prior years’ margins. The Board has budgeted for the return of capital credits this year as well. This is no small feat. It takes the combined efforts of this devoted Board, management and dedicated employees to make this all work. We are all constantly looking at the operations and efficiencies within the cooperative. The board has directed us to have a rate study completed this year to make sure we are where we need to be. You’ll hear more on this later in the year.
United Electric has a mission statement which we all take very seriously…It reads….“United Electric will provide reliable and safe electric service at the lowest possible cost consistent with sound management and cooperative principles”
Following her address to the members, Brenda introduced our guest speaker for the evening, Wallace Barron who updated the members on all of the changes in the generation supply mix which is occurring nationwide. Barron explained that the closing of nuclear and coal fired base load generation plants and their replacement with natural gas (which is cheap at this time) is putting all of our eggs in one basket, leaving us susceptible to spikes in gas price and the resulting spike in electric prices. He went on to point out that even though renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are increasing, because they depend on weather conditions to operate they are not capable of supporting grid reliability. Base load generation remains critical in maintaining a reliable supply of power when consumers need it.
Frank Betley, the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA), United’s statewide service organization, and Allegheny Electric Cooperative, Inc., our statewide generation and transmission supplier then took the stage. Mr. Betley explained that, “after a conversation we had in this very room last year about light bulb efficiency, we at your statewide organization, along with your co-op representatives, took a long look at the benefits for our members upgrading to LED lighting. As your wholesale power provider, we own about 70 percent of our generation supply, but that means we must go out on the market and buy the other 30 percent...and at times that can be very expensive compared to our own resources. We began running the numbers to calculate how much less generation capacity we would have to purchase if each co-op member installed just four LED bulbs in place of 60 watt incandescent bulbs. It turns out that it is a very smart investment. Your co-op along with the other 13 co-ops across the state made the commitment to send each household a pack of four LED bulbs. Your co-op made the commitment to provide you with these new energy saving bulbs, now I’m here tonight to get a commitment from you to install the bulbs as soon as you receive them.” Betley explained to the members that he understands nobody wants to throw away something that is still working, but in this case it is the smart thing to do. The high efficiency of the LED bulbs will pay for themselves in electric savings many times over their expected 20-plus year life span. His parting comment to the crowd was, “Change those lightbulbs as soon as you receive them.”
The Judge of Elections, Patrick Lavelle, reported the results of the director election in Districts 1 and 7. Mr. Lavelle reported that because there were no petitions to run for the board in either district, in accordance with the Cooperative Bylaws, incumbent director R. Shanelle Hawk was reelected in District 1 and Arden E. Owens was reelected as the director in District 7.
Having concluded the business of the cooperative, Vice Charmain Burkett entertained a motion for adjournment. He thanked all of the members for their continued support of the cooperative, stressing the importance of member participation in the business of the cooperative. He also encouraged the members to keep in contact throughout the year and invited everyone back to next year’s meeting