LIBERTY CENTER —Tricounty Rural Electric Cooperative’s 84th drive-in annual meeting was held at Liberty Center Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater on Sept. 15. Board election results were announced, with two new trustees joining the board.
Election results included:
• District 4 trustee winner: Kenneth Maag (representing Harrison and Monroe townships in Henry County)
• District 7 trustee winner: James Weber (representing portions of Swancreek Township in Fulton County)
This year’s trustee elections were conducted by mail and allowed for electronic voting through Tricounty’s website. Voting ran Aug. 2-31 and was conducted by a third-party company called Survey and Ballot Systems. Tricounty REC thanks former District 4 Trustee Dustin Sonnenberg for his service to the co-op; he had reached his term limit and retired from the board.
CEO Brett Perkins explained that the co-op won three national “Spotlight on Excellence” Awards from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association:
1) Most Innovative Use of Digital Communication, second place: For 2020’s co-op video titled “Who are We?”
2) Best Event, second place: For 2020’s social-distance-friendly drive-in annual meeting
3) Best Covid-19 Response, first place: Selected from among the 700+ co-ops in the nation who entered the Spotlight Awards
“This past year was extremely challenging,” Perkins said. “These challenges created new opportunities for us to succeed. Although difficult at times, we embraced change, we came up with new ideas to solve problems and we found solutions to our challenges. These awards and all of Tricounty’s successes would not have been possible without creative and dedicated employees, strong board leadership, and the membership’s support.”
Members in attendance heard video updates on the co-op’s financial standing, as well as reports from co-op management recapping the cooperative’s activities this past year. Board president Johney Ritz detailed the $555,000 spent in distribution line maintenance to keep the co-op’s system running smoothly and “to provide members with reliable electric service.” More than $535,000 was spent to upgrade equipment, build new lines, and rebuild old sections of line in the last year.
The board also announced a $643,000 capital credits retirement to current and former members this December 2021. As a not-for-profit utility, the co-op operates at cost and returns any profit (or margin) after expenses are paid back to the member-owners based on their electric use for the year.
Since 1950, Tricounty REC has returned nearly $19.3 million to its member-owners.
Pat O’Loughlin, President and CEO of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives and Buckeye Power — Tricounty’s power supplier — reported that despite COVID-19’s impacts on Buckeye Power’s Cardinal Generating Plant, OEC is still “in an exceptional position to deliver electricity the 400,000 Ohio co-op members reliably, affordably, and in an environmentally responsible way.” This balance, he said, is something every Ohioan should expect.
“Recently Texas and California pursued poorly planned energy markets that didn’t consider grid reliability,” O’Loughlin said. “Texas endured both destructive blackouts and high electric system costs that will take years to recover… fortunately, Buckeye Power is part of a network that plans for an adequate level of resources plus a healthy reserve margin.”
However, he explained the Midwest also has risks, citing the 2014 polar vortex when electric load was high and Ohio’s power system had difficulty keeping up. Since then, several base-load coal plants have been closed, replaced by natural gas plants and some renewables that may not be available during extreme cold weather events.
“Buckeye Power provides your electricity supply from clean baseload coal plants — Cardinal is one of the cleanest in the world — modern natural gas plants, and about 6% from a mix of renewable resources including hydropower, biomass, and solar,” O’Loughlin said. “Our diverse resource mix allows us to ensure you have power when you need it, while keeping wholesale power costs flat for the last 10 years.”
Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives is also working to double solar output over the next year, according to O’Loughlin.
The animated family movie, “Sing”, was played after the meeting. Snacks and a gift were provided to each membership in attendance.