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‘Together, we are co-op strong’ is theme for ECE Annual Meeting

With “Together, We Are Co-op Strong” as the theme, more than 350 East Central Energy (ECE) members and guests attended their cooperative’s 82nd annual meeting. The event was held April 19 at the Braham Event Center and via live video at the Superior Operations Center.

President/CEO Steve Shurts recognized Bob Kaeter, who recently stepped down after nearly 40 years of service on the ECE Board of Directors. He also presented a plaque to representatives of Catholic Charities Central MN Foster Grandparent program, the co-op’s 2017 Touchstone Energy Community Award winner.

ECE Board Chair Jerry Tvedt welcomed everyone to the meeting and reported that 255 members had registered at the Braham and Superior locations. Terry Parson, a distribution system operator in the System Control department, gave the invocation.

In his executive report, Shurts announced that ECE’s reliability record in 2017 was the best in the cooperative’s history, with outage minutes per member nearly 15 percent lower than the previous best.

“We take many proactive steps to make sure you have power whenever you need it,” he said, “and we’re pleased to see the positive impact our work is having.”

He updated members on the progress of the system-wide meter upgrade and the benefits the co-op is experiencing with the new meters. Within the next few months, ECE expects all 75,000 meters will be installed on the system.

“The meters are helping us respond more quickly to outages, which results in shorter response times,” he said. “We have many examples of the meters showing us the power was out at a location, and we restored it before the member was aware of the outage.”

Shurts reported that ECE sold 914 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity last year, which was down slightly from 2016 and mirrors a trend being seen throughout the industry. He reminded members that ECE’s costs continue to rise. With energy sales remaining flat, it was necessary to raise the cost of basic service by $1.50, Shurts said.

This year, in voting districts 1 and 3, only one candidate was nominated by petition for each of the available seats on the board of directors. Voting by ballot was not necessary. Incumbent Diane Zimmerman will serve the four-year term in District 1, and Greg Kvasnicka, Bruno, MN, also District 1, will serve the remaining two years of former Director Mike Kapalin’s term. Incumbent Don Swanson, District 3, will serve a four-year term. An election was held in District 6. Members from that district elected Jim Jesok, Sauk Rapids, MN, to represent them for the next four years. All candidates and election results were confirmed by the ECE Credentials and Election committee and legal counsel.

Board Chair Tvedt invited members to attend appreciation events that will be held October 4. Copies of the cooperative’s 2017 annual report were distributed. The report can also be found at eastcentralenergy.com.

The board met immediately following the annual meeting to elect officers for the coming year. Re-elected to their positions were Chair, Jerry Tvedt, Vice Chair, Wayne Eller, and Secretary-Treasurer, Linda Laitala. Diane Zimmerman was elected Assistant Secretary-Treasurer. Don Swanson and Joe Morley represent ECE on the Great River Energy Board of Directors.

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