ECE annual meeting highlights 24/7 connection
Nearly 300 members and guests learned how their local electric cooperative is keeping them connected 24/7 when they attended East Central Energy’s (ECE) 80th annual meeting. The event was held April 14 at the Braham Event Center and via live video at the Superior Operations Center.
ECE Board Chair Diane Zimmerman welcomed members and their families to the meeting. Lineman Toby Geiger gave the invocation.
President/ CEO Steve Shurts reported that the cooperative had a sound financial year in 2015. He explained how advances in technology are helping ECE offer conveniences to members that allow them to connect with their co-op at any time. His executive report highlighted the system-wide meter upgrade that is being installed. The new meters will pinpoint outage locations quickly for faster response time, help address power quality issues like blinks, and make more timely information available to members about their account.
Shurts pointed out that ECE’s load management programs experienced growth in 2015, with 523 new systems adding 4.5 megawatts of controlled load, and he spoke of the potential electric vehicles hold as a load management tool.
“We’ve used and promoted energy-efficient products and programs for decades because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Our expertise in load management puts us in a strong position as energy efficiency plays a bigger role in the future of energy.”
He reported that ECE is working to integrate small-scale renewable energy systems into the cooperative business structure in a way that will equitably balance the cost of delivering electricity to all members. There are 56 of these systems currently operating in ECE’s service territory.
“We recognize that renewable energy has benefits for members, the cooperative and the environment,” Shurts said. “Our wholesale power supplier, Great River Energy, includes wind, solar, biomass and hydropower in its power generation mix, and we believe in the value of a diverse portfolio of energy resources.”
The cooperative’s 2015 decision to sell its largest subsidiary, Como Oil and Propane, was also addressed. Shurts explained that the sale allows ECE to dedicate full attention to the electric industry and new initiatives that will help the co-op meet the challenges ahead.
This year, in voting districts 1, 3 and 6, only one candidate per district was nominated by petition. The candidates were confirmed by the ECE Credentials and Election committee and ECE’s legal counsel. With only one candidate for each district, voting by ballot was not necessary. Incumbent Mike Kapalin, district 1; Wayne Eller, district 3; and Wesley (Inky) Siemers, district 6, will serve four-year terms on the ECE Board of Directors.
Board Chair Zimmerman invited members to attend appreciation events that will be held October 6 at each ECE location. Copies of the cooperative’s 2015 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. Jerry Tvedt was elected chair, Mike Kapalin, vice chair, Linda Laitala, secretary/treasurer, and Bob Kaeter, assistant secretary/treasurer.