More than 325 members and their families attended Menard Electric Cooperative’s 85th Annual Meeting on July 12th at Athens Christian Church in Athens. Members re-elected directors, learned more about the cooperative, enjoyed a pork chop dinner, snow cones, and visiting with neighbors and co-op employees. Each membership received a $20 bill credit and more credits were given as prizes.
In addition to the appreciation fun a business meeting was held that included reports from General Manager Alisha Anker, Board President Warren Goetsch and Board Treasurer Dennis Ryan, along with a Director Election.
General Manager Alisha Anker Report
Anker reminded members of where we stood last year in regards to the energy market and the co-op’s ability to maintain steady rates at that time due to the diverse portfolio of our power supplier Prairie Power, Inc. “This held true for 2022,” she said. “The 2023 outlook we received in November from Prairie Power included a 14% increase in forecasted costs over the most recent 4-year average.” She also referenced inventory costs that doubled in 2022 and have continued to increase. These factors led to cutting some planned projects and analyzing the most recent cost of service study to implement a facility charge increase to members this January.
“Despite these market-influence rigors, over the past year your co-op employees have accomplished many feats,” said Anker. Some examples included interconnection of 63 member-owned distributed solar generation systems, bringing the total to just under 200 members; installation of over 5 miles of underground line and 75 new member services; and completion of 225 work orders to upgrade existing or retire unneeded services. The installation of 17.5 miles of overhead line by co-op and contract crews provided an upgrade in conductors which improved the system line loss factor between substations and member meters by one-half of one percent. “Given our wholesale power cost for every 1% of line loss equals almost $183,000 a year, we welcome every tenth of a percentage of reduction.” She also praised the vegetation management right-of-way program that assisted in reducing line loss, as well as improving the safety and reliability of our system.
Alisha highlighted key accomplishments from each departments’ employees that included enhanced communications systems at substations, the ability to accept new membership applications online, expansion into a new Mechanics building allowing for better care of our fleet, equipment and materials, and the integration of asset records, purchasing, inventory and work order processes into our financial information system.
President Warren Goetsch Report
In a video presentation Goetsch discussed the challenges faced and progress made by the co-op during the past year, focusing on infrastructure, technology and workforce. He discussed how employees met the challenges of supply chain disruptions and increased materials pricing and lead times. He pointed out the collaborative work performed to upgrade lines, substations and electronic equipment, all while keeping our services safe and reliable.
“We understand that Menard Electric’s success is not measured in kilowatts or dollars, but in the quality of service we provide our membership and the impacts we have in our communities,” said Goetsch. He ended with a reminder that the co-op’s continued evolution in response to changing technologies, consumer needs and regulatory environments is critical. “I am confident that by working together, we can overcome any challenges and achieve even greater success,” he said. View the video presentation (link above) for his full report.
Treasurer Dennis Ryan Report
In a video presentation Ryan gave financial details about the cooperative, focusing on the importance of the long-term financial plan balancing equity and debt, the co-op’s commitment to returning capital credits to members, and its priority to minimize rate increases. He indicated a cost of service study is currently being conducted to ensure each rate class structure adequately captures the co-op’s costs. View the Video presentation (link above) to hear all the numbers.
Director Election Results
Three incumbents ran unopposed and were re-elected to three-year terms: Jodine Tate – District 3; Michael Patrick – District 7; and Warren Goetsch – District 8.