NEWARK, OHIO – Three incumbents were re-elected to The Energy Cooperative Board of Directors at the organization’s 81st annual meeting held Monday, May 15, at the Reese Center at The Ohio State University/COTC Newark Campus. Don Hawk, Joanne Little, and John Klauder (pictured to left) were re-elected to serve members in Districts 1, 8, and 6, respectively.
Board Chair Nelson Smith recognized The Cooperative’s Board. “Your directors take their responsibilities very seriously. All nine have earned their Credentialed Cooperative Director and Board Leadership Certifications. The designation is given to a board director after completing a series of certification classes provided by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Several also obtained a new “gold” designation for additional continuing education.”
Smith said, “Licking Rural Electrification was formed in 1936. Our charter was to serve rural areas that other utilities chose not to serve because it was not profitable for them. I think that we have done that very well over the past 81 years.”
Commenting on the year’s highlights, Smith spoke of meeting with elected officials about concerns affecting rural electric cooperatives at the annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C. with Cooperative President/CEO Todd Ware and Director of H.R./Safety Connie Hogue. “The representatives that we met with responded well to our requests and understood our concerns very clearly,” said Smith.
Smith recognized Cooperative staff who volunteer with non-profits such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Chambers of Commerce, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and others. He mentioned the Cooperative’s member-focused events such as Kids Day and Earth & Energy Day.
Board Secretary/Treasurer John Klauder reported that comprehensive income from electric and natural gas operations continues to be stable. “The Cooperative has equity of $30.7 million as of the end of 2016,” Klauder said. “Equity for the combined entities has grown to 11.01 percent. Our bank will consider allowing the payment of capital credits once the Cooperative reaches an equity position of 20 percent.”
Guest speaker Bill Roberts, VP/ CFO of Buckeye Power and Ohio Electric Cooperatives, discussed electric power generation, environmental controls at the Cardinal power plant, reliability of service, and rates. “The power we produce is cleaner than ever,” said Roberts. “Because co-ops are not-for-profit, service-oriented organizations, it’s a priority for us to control costs to keep rates as affordable as possible.”
President/CEO Todd Ware reported on the performance and combined financial condition of Licking Rural Electrification and its subsidiary gas and propane businesses. “The goals for 2016 focused on safety, financial performance, member service, communications, and reliability of service, with safety of the employees, members, and general public being the number one goal.” He added that TEC continues to have lower incident rates and days away/restricted or transferred (D.A.R.T.) rates than both state and national averages.
Ware mentioned that electric operations underwent the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) Recertification. “I am proud to report that our scores improved greatly since our last certification in 2014. The final review panel stated that we had some of the highest marks in the State of Ohio.”
Ware discussed the financial performance of the Cooperative and major factors impacting year-end results: warmer-than-normal weather, low oil and gas prices, and increased off-system margin. “There’s a fine balance between capital expenditures and system reliability. We continue to watch our expenses. We reduced budget by $2 million, and we are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively.”
“Outstanding member service and reliability remain important priorities for the Cooperative,” said Ware. “We have focused on system improvements for both electric and natural gas services with continued right-of-way clearing and our bare steel pipeline and gas riser replacement programs.”
Ware noted extensive growth in western Licking County and efforts the Cooperative makes to meet demand. “We thank the Board for allowing construction of our new Hazelton substation, which will substantially increase the reliability of service in Pataskala. We also expanded our natural gas service in New Albany and Johnstown. We are excited to see this growth in our service area.”
Ware discussed the effect that Marcellus and Utica Shale have on natural gas pricing, cyber-security, and capital credits. He expressed concern for the EPA’s proposed rules on existing power plants, American Electric Power’s exit from the electric-generation business, and the future of natural gas and oil prices.
In other business, Marc Odenweller reported on The Energy Cooperative’s Operation Round Up Foundation: In 2016, $270,510 was awarded to area organizations and individuals through funds raised by Cooperative members who “round up” their bills to the next dollar. Everyone associated with the foundation volunteers, so that 100 percent of contributions returns to the community. Operation Round Up has contributed more than $2.55 million to worthy causes since 2005.
Outside of the business meeting, members were entertained by the Granville High School Jazz band led by Jarrod Smith.
The Energy Cooperative, based in Newark, Ohio, is a not-for-profit energy enterprise and serves more than 62,000 electric, natural gas, and propane members. In October of 1998, Licking Rural Electrification, Inc. (LRE) acquired National Gas & Oil Company and its subsidiaries, National Gas & Oil Corp., Producers Gas Sales, NGO Development Corp., NGO Transmission, Inc., and NGO Propane. The Energy Cooperative is the trade name used by LRE and its subsidiaries, which operate as separate corporations. The Energy Cooperative is a Touchstone Energy® Partner.