Community Electric Has ‘20/20 Vision’
With 20/20 vision, you should be able to see the future clearly, and Community Electric Cooperative’s future is a bright one.
That 20/20 vision, complete with feigned eyewear for the CEC team, was the theme of the co-op’s 81st annual meeting, which attracted more than 100 members, guests and dignitaries on August 6 to George Tyler Middle School in Windsor, Virginia.
“2018 was a good year for your cooperative,” board chairwoman Jeannette S. Everett told members. “Collectively, we have been working very hard to accomplish our goals and focus on our mission statement: to safely provide our members exceptional, courteous, and reliable services at a competitive cost.”
The co-op came very close to meeting its reliability targets and continues to raise the bar with respect to systems operations and reliability. Member satisfaction checked in with an 88 percent approval rating, among the highest nationally.
Financially, 2018 was a good year, secretary-treasurer Diana Beale reported, with CEC and Tidewater Energy Services, its subsidiary, earning a combined profit of more than $590,000.
The cooperative retired $357,452 in general capital credits and credits to estates, bringing to more than $19 million the total amount of retired capital credits in the co-op’s history.
Other financial highlights included an increase in the electric plant asset, before depreciation, to more than $53 million, and an increase in operating revenues and expenses to $26 million and $25.8 million respectively. In all, net operating margins totaled $591,000.
In his address, President and CEO Steve Harmon emphasized that the co-op must have a vision for the future to cope with sweeping changes in the electric utility industry.
“We try to keep our ear to the ground in regard to industry information. We took a real hard look out into the future and put together a presentation called 20/20 Vision,” Harmon said. “We can react to situations or we can take the bull by the horns.”
Harmon said the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., the lending arm of co-ops, is supporting a CEC study on cost of service, rooted in technological changes, that could be reflected in rate structures in the coming year.
“We’re not a power company but rather your service provider,” he emphasized. Harmon also took care to compliment CEC’s 33 employees, with a special nod to line crews that keep power going for 11,000 meters. Members were treated to a video CEC lineworkers explaining their jobs and the training process.
“These are the guys who keep your lights on,” said Harmon, who presented Evan Wagensomer and Eric Galford with framed certificates recognizing their graduation to journeyman lineman status after completion of the lineworker certification program through Northwest Lineman College.
The co-op also provided special recognition to outgoing director Carey Copeland of Suffolk with his wife Claudia for Copeland’s long service on the CEC board. Members elected Jason Carr of Suffolk, and reelected Diana Beale of Isle of Wight County and Everett of Southampton County. All will serve three-year terms.
The board reelected Everett as chairman for the upcoming year, while Michael A. Faulk will serve as vice chairman. Beale will be secretary-treasurer with John Stewart as assistant secretary-treasurer. A total of 96 members were present with 8,521 proxy submissions.
Entertainment was provided by Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson, Savannah, Ga.-based musicians, who travel nationally with the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra and perform big band jazz music. Davis and Johnson went at it as a trio with keyboardist Lucy Kilpatrick to an enthusiastic reception, especially when the saxophone-trombone artists played music by Johnny Mercer.
Another feature of the annual meeting with the Kids’ Corner, where the co-op’s youngest members engaged in fun activities such as coloring and piñata smashing.
After the meeting, more than two dozen prizes were handed out to lucky attendees with Betty Patterson taking home the grand prize, a $500 electric bill credit.