2017 Annual Meeting
United members and families filled the hall to near capacity for the 80th Annual Meeting of the Members held May 17th at the
Brady Township Community Center in Luthersburg.
The 2017 Annual Meeting was called to order by Board Chairman, Steve Marshall promptly at 7:00 PM. Steve 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. Steve pointed out that it was very
nice to see many familiar faces in the crowd, and extended a special welcome to all the new members in attendance that he had not seen at the Annual Meeting
in previous years. He also extended a sincere thank you to the Clearfield County Dairy Princess Committee for providing the attendees with their excellent milk
punch, 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
went out to all members April 28, 2017. Secretary Pisaneschi informed the members that at the time of the mailing there were 16,423 members of the Cooperative,
and that all members were sent the notice along with the 2016 Annual Report.
After motions from the floor to approve the 2016 Annual Meeting Minutes and the 2016 Financial Report, Chairman Marshall reported that,
“United Electric finished 2016 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 for the current membership and our needs today, but also for 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, Chairman Marshall introduced Chris Dush who represents our members in State House District 66 and Matt Gobbler who
represents United’s members in District 75. Both briefly addressed the members and expressed the confidence they have in the cooperatives and the job they do
for their members.
The Judge of Elections, Patrick Lavelle, reported the results of the director election in Districts #4 and 5. 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 David W. Walker was
reelected as the director in District 4, and Stephen A. Marshall was reelected in District 5.
We were pleased to once again have 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, present. Mr. Betley updated the
attendees on the rate stability the cooperatives have experienced over the last decade while consumers of the other utility companies in the state and throughout
the area have not been so lucky. Mr. Betley stated that, “The cooperative’s investment in Nuclear and Hydro generation facilities which provide the bulk of our
generation are not only carbon free generation resources, they are now some of the most efficient and cheapest sources of power in the state”. He pointed out
that while co-ops’ rates remain stable; the consumers on the neighboring utility company have experienced continually changing rates and increases.
Moving on to another subject, Mr. Betley said, “the wholesale power provider along with the distribution cooperative, United Electric, are
doing everything possible to hold down the members’ energy bills, but there are things that the members can do to make their bills even less.” He pointed out
the huge advantage of members participating in the Load Management program, primarily on water heaters, which saves the Cooperatives hundreds of thousands of
dollars per year. He then got into a very entertaining discussion on the advantages of the new LED light bulbs. This led to a lot of interesting questions and
discussion of the many improvements not only in light quality but also the savings these new LED bulbs offer the consumers.
Following the conclusion of Mr. Betley’s remarks, United Electric’s President and CEO, Brenda Swartzlander took the podium. She expressed her
pleasure at having such a great turn out, and especially all the new members willing to be part of the cooperative’s future.
“It’s been 80 years since the rural residents of Jefferson and Clearfield counties took their future into their own hands and formed United
Electric,” stated Brenda. “What started in 1937 with a $310,000 loan from the REA has evolved into a cooperative with total assets of over $96-millon serving over
18,000 accounts. Most of these accounts are residences, farms and seasonal members, but the number of businesses and commercial accounts has increased over the
years, due in a large part to the availability of electric in the rural area. But essentially, we are the same as the rural residents who founded the co-op all
those years ago. We all have a stake in the betterment of our communities…. and as always… our main concern continues to be having a reliable, safe and
affordable supply of power.’
‘Poles are still poles and wires are still wires, but the way we go about building and maintaining the system today has changed dramatically
over the years. When I started at the coop…let’s just say a number of years ago…meter technology hadn’t changed since utility companies started selling
electric.” She explained that, “The co-op is currently in the process of upgrading to the second generation of self-reporting meters, which will not only provide
us with meter readings for billing purposes, but also allow us to check to see if there is power to the meter...in real time. This is a huge advantage,
especially during a severe storm. During outages, these meters interact with our outage management system, allowing dispatchers to check to be sure the power
is on to all the accounts on a given line before the crew leaves the area, eliminating the need to call members to ask if their power is on.”
Brenda also updated the members on how well the new SmartHub online interface has been embraced by members wanting to inquire on the status
of their accounts and pay bills online. “When I introduced SmartHub at last year’s meeting, we had about 4,800 Members registered to use E-bill (the predecessor
to Smart Hub). In the last year, we have expanded to almost 5,200 SmartHub users and more than 500 members using the new smart phone App, on their cell phone to
access their account information.” She was quick to point out that the cooperative is aware that not all of our members are ready to move to these new
technologies. “Rest assured that, as a cooperative, whose mission is to serve our members’ needs, you still have the option of receiving a paper bill, which you
can pay by mail, and you still have the option of stopping in our office and doing business face-to-face with a real person. Regardless of the technologies we
are embracing, your co-op continues to maintain a presence in the community and we continue to have an office where you can stop in and talk to someone in person
whenever you need to.” she assured the crowd.
Brenda informed the members that, “After closely evaluating advancements in technologies over the past number of years, United Electric is
moving forward with the installation of a SCADA system. SCADA has become essential to the further improvement of our reliability to our members. With SCADA
in place we can monitor our substations, communicate with various equipment on our electric system, and make adjustments to equipment in the field from our
office. Many of the regulators, reclosers, and switches we have been installing in our substations over the last decade have the ability to transmit data and
can be controlled remotely. We currently have electronic reclosers on over half of our mainline feeders and we have plans to complete this phase of the project
over the next few years. Until now, we had not been able to utilize these features. Once the SCADA system is in place we will know exactly what is happening at
our substations, in real time. SCADA will send Text alarms or Emails to our supervisors when abnormalities are occurring. SCADA will also aid our engineering
department in the planning of line rebuilds with load balancing, and it will help us determine if we may need to upsize substation equipment. With the right
equipment in place, we will be able to open and close tie-points between substations to backfeed when necessary, which will drastically decrease outage time.
This will be a long term project but right from the beginning SCADA will help United Electric improve reliability to our members and allow us to assess
situations in the field in order to respond more quickly when needed.
After concluding her presentation, Brenda introduced the special guest speaker for the evening, Bob Farmer. Bob is a native of Louisville,
Kentucky and had done extensive writing for the Farmer’s Almanac. He travels the nation, entertaining audiences of all types with his own take on rural life
and the eccentricities of some of his friends and family in the hills of Kentucky. He was a great hit with the crowd…many of which seemed to know people very
similar to the ones Bob was talking about.
Having concluded the business of the cooperative, Charmain Marshall 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 expressed his wish to see everyone back at next year’s meeting.