The Annual Meeting of the Members was held on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m.

It was a beautiful, sunny day for gathering in Luthersburg for our 2023 Annual Meeting of the Members. Billy Parker, Manager of Safety expertly presented a high voltage demonstration explaining how equipment works on our electrical system. Journeymen Linemen, Dan Marshall and Jason Duttry demonstrated potential dangers and the power of electrical equipment.

Board Chairman, Stephen A. Marshall called United Electric’s Annual Meeting to order. Everyone joined in for the playing of the National Anthem, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Steve welcomed approximately 200 members, families, and guests, then whole-heartedly acknowledged all military veterans in attendance. Steve went on to introduce and thank the rest of the board members, as well as special guests Steve Brame, President and CEO of Allegheny Electric Cooperative & PREA (our statewide organization) and Pete Fitzgerald, Vice President of Public Affairs and Member Services for PREA.

Down to Business

Eileen Pisaneschi, our 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 on May 2, 2023. “The Annual Meeting will be held May 17, 2023, at 7:00PM at the Brady Township Community Center in Luthersburg, PA,” read Secretary Pisaneschi. “At the time of the mailing there were 16,161 members of the Cooperative.”

After motions from the floor to approve the 2022 Annual Meeting Minutes and 2022 Financial Reports, Chairman Marshall expressed his and the Board of Director’s gratitude once again “to all the members who support the cooperative in our collective efforts to improve the system.” He also thanked the management and employees of United Electric for their dedication to the cooperative.

Important Updates   

Chairman Marshall introduced President and CEO of United Electric Cooperative, Brenda Swartzlander. Brenda thanked everyone for attending and began providing our members with a summary of what the cooperative has accomplished since last year, as well as what is yet to come.

“Some of you may recall that last year we kind of eased into our first in-person event following 2 years of cancellations and postponements due to the Covid Pandemic. I think it’s a good sign that we’re all getting back to business. After all, annual meetings are all about bringing people together, so it’s nice to have you here this evening, along with your board of directors, cooperative staff, and some special guests.”

This past year, we completed our regular maintenance and inspection programs. This included our right-of-way program: we maintained approximately 500 miles of line and our pole inspection program saw 5,808 poles inspected and treated. 66 poles (1.1 percent) were determined to be unserviceable and were replaced. System Improvement projects totaling more than 15 miles of line upgrades were completed as well.” Brenda went on to point out, “There is so much involved in the scope of these projects: engineering or design of the projects, which are incorporated into our work plan and approved by the board of directors, talking with the property owners, clearing the right of way, and finally doing the necessary construction. This is really oversimplifying the tasks required to get the project completed.”

Brenda went on to read a letter received from thankful members, Jim and Jane McKillip. Mr. and Mrs. McKillip’s property was used as a staging area for a system improvement project in their area. Mr. and Mrs. McKillip were in awe of the size of the job and how so much more goes into their electric service than they thought. “To get this type of letter really means so very much to us. And when I say ‘us,’ I mean everyone: the board, the employees, the contractors that provide services for us, everyone that is part of our “United Team, including you, our members. After all, this is your cooperative.”

After discussing our Capital Credit return to the membership ($14.4 million over 14 years) and Youth Tour participation this year (4 outstanding students), Brenda discussed significant outages that had happened over the last 6 months. “On Friday, December 23rd, heavy rain followed by a large cold front with wind gusts upward of 55 mph, and lasting approximately 24 hours, caused widespread outages throughout our service territory. More recently, on Saturday, April 1st, a storm front brought heavy rain and high winds, with gusts upward of 60 mph. It’s “all hands-on deck” when we are in outage restoral mode, from the dedicated folks in the office to those dedicated folks out in the field.”

Brenda closed with a sincere thank you to the membership for their patience, as well as a thank you to all the employees for assisting with the Annual Meeting. “I’d also like to thank the Board for their never-ending commitment and support in all things United.”

Special Guest

Brenda introduced Steve Brame, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA) United’s statewide service organization, and Allegheny Electric Cooperative, Inc., our statewide generation and transmission supplier. Steve has spent the past 20-plus years in various roles at PREA and Allegheny, most recently as Vice President of Public Affairs and Member Services.

“I was born and raised in State College, but my roots are in Clearfield County. My grandparents were both born here in Houtzdale and Madera. Although I may work for PREA and Allegheny, I actually work for all of you. These organizations work to support the 14 cooperatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to provide safe, affordable, reliable power and I’d like to emphasize reliable power here today.”

Steve explained that reliable power is becoming a concern lately: “Flipping on a light switch is an act most of us probably take for granted these days, but sending those electrons from the power plant to that light switch in your hallway is no small feat. The concern today is whether our grid is ready for the 21st century.”

Steve discussed a winter storm this past Christmas Eve that saw nine states having to implement rolling blackouts. Nearly a quarter of the region’s resources went offline unexpectedly, mainly due to equipment failures and fuel supply problems. “During that event, PJM Interconnection, our regional grid operator, issued an emergency alert to all energy users across its 13-state region to voluntarily conserve power, hoping to avoid the need for rolling blackouts. While we averted disaster, there were still more than 7 million outages across the PJM region. As a result of that event, generation providers that went offline are facing up to $2 billion in fines for their failure to provide power when needed – a failure of reliability.”

Steve went to inform the membership, “So why are we seeing this marvel of the 20th century – the electric grid – struggle so much in the 21st century?” Several points of fact were given: “We’re transitioning to an all-electric economy; we’re electrifying the economy at a time when we’re replacing traditionally RELIABLE sources of energy with less-dependable sources. We have supply chain issues and permitting challenges, and we’re also experiencing more frequent and more severe weather events.” Mr. Brame stressed that this is a concern on a national level.

“Fortunately, cooperatives are consistent in their efforts in what I call the THREE Ps in dealing with reliability issues: Policy, Performance and People. When it comes to public policy, cooperatives have always been particularly good at explaining the practical realities of things in light of lofty policy goals. We continue to invest in the system and adapt our processes to minimize power interruptions – and that includes having those responsible for delivering our power invest in the reliability of our cooperative delivery points. Mr Brame closed with, “Finally, it takes a special commitment to tackle line work, and I can assure you that you have that commitment here from your line crew. They are dedicated to getting the lights on as quickly as possible and more importantly, as safely as possible. That’s a dedication that I know is shared by the board of directors and staff of United Electric.”

Election Results

Chairman Marshall then introduced the Judge of Elections, Patrick Lavelle. Mr. Lavelle reported the results of the Director elections in Districts #3 and #6. Because there were no petitions to run for the board in District #6, in accordance with the Cooperative Bylaws, incumbent Director Timothy D. Burkett was re-elected. “A petition to run for the board in District #3 was received by Mr. Henry Daugherty.” Having received one petition to run in District 3, election ballots were mailed to all members of that district before the meeting with candidates Henry Daugherty and incumbent, Richard A. Petrosky. After the votes were tallied by members who agreed to be tellers, Mr. Lavelle declared, “Richard A. Petrosky as re-elected to the board for District #3.”

Having concluded the business of the cooperative, Charmain Marshall asked for a motion for adjournment. He, once again, thanked all members for their continued support of the cooperative. “Your participation in the business of the cooperative is extremely important and I encourage you to stay engaged with us by any means you enjoy using. Please come back next year to show your support.”