ECE Annual Meeting Celebrates the Benefits of Electricity
Despite a spring snowstorm, 143 members helped us celebrate another year of service at our 83rd annual meeting. Held April 11 at the Braham Event Center and via live video at the Superior Operations Center, the meeting highlighted ECE community initiatives and our strong year financially. Copies of the cooperative’s 2018 annual report were distributed.
President/CEO Steve Shurts presented the recently-renamed Power Up Scholarship to non-traditional students. Shurts also awarded a plaque to representatives of the University of Minnesota Extension Pine County Master Gardeners, the co-op’s 2018 Touchstone Energy Community Award winner.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the invocation was delivered by Justin Jahnz, Manager of Energy Services and Strategic Projects. Board of Directors Chair Jerry Tvedt called the meeting to order.
In his executive report, Shurts shared that 2018 was the best year for reliability in ECE history, due in large part to our integrated vegetation management program and installation of animal guards across the system. He noted the completion of the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The system includes 34 base stations and more than 77,000 new meters. “With the new metering system, we are alerted to outages sometimes within seconds of the power loss,” he said.
Because our power supplier, Great River Energy, experienced an excellent financial year, we were able to set aside $4.5 million to reduce or defer future rate increases. “Stable costs for wholesale power, a stronger economy, and weather had a positive impact on ECE in 2018,” Shurts explained. There will be no residential rate increase in 2019, and we're hoping to continue that trend in 2020.
The co-op returned over $4 million in capital credits to members last year, and an additional $1 million in estate retirements. Over the years, more than $78 million has been returned to members.
This year, three seats were up for election on the ECE Board of Directors. Only one candidate was nominated by petition for the available seat in District 5, so voting by ballot was not necessary. The candidate, Linda Laitala, will serve the four-year term. An election was held in District 2, where members re-elected David Deutschlander to represent them for the next four years. In District 4, members re-elected Garry Bye to serve a four-year term as well. All candidates and election results were confirmed by the ECE Credentials and Election committee and ECE’s legal counsel.
ECE President/CEO Steve Shurts and Board Chair Jerry Tvedt present
Power Up Scholarships to Renita Twingstrom and Karli Weisz during
the ECE Annual Meeting.