|Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative celebrates 75 years of service|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Monday, 23 September 2013 09:52|
NORTH BALTIMORE - U.S. Congressman Robert Latta, R-Bowling Green, commended Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative on its 75 years of service during the co-op's annual business meeting Sept. 14. In a speech before hundreds of co-op members and dignitaries, he said, "There is something really great going on in America today and that is called - energy." Latta serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction on legislative matters, including energy policy.
"As we look around the world, we are sitting on [energy] right here in this nation for the rest of the world." He recalled past U.S. gas shortages and said, "We have 26 percent of the world's coal in this country and we should be utilizing that clean coal technology to make sure we keep the lights on."
During the business meeting, David Corbin, Tom Dierksheide and John Edie were reelected to their respective districts. Attorney Robert Hollister administered the oath of office. Later, in executive session, Ed Crawford was reelected as board chairman, and Dan Wickard, was named new vice chairman, replacing Steve Gerten. Dierksheide will remain secretary/treasurer and Tom Kagy will continue to serve as assistant secretary/treasurer.
Crawford spoke about the co-op mission, saying, "'Members First' was the key to our cooperative's success back in 1938, and it will continue to be the key to our success in the future. "
President and CEO George Walton described the advantages of the co-op's introduction of new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and automated technologies, which resulted in far less impact on members than on customers of neighboring electric utilities. "In July storms, our operations personnel were faced with 3,627 outage locations - all of which had power restored within 28 hours - and most within eight hours."
The co-op invested $450,000 in SCADA technology to ensure better service reliability. It also launched an aggressive Rebuild Program, which included the rebuilding of more than 40 miles of power lines and outdated equipment at a total investment of $4.5 million. More than a half million dollars also was invested in right-of-way maintenance, which involves foliage growth management to protect against power line interference.
Walton also spoke about the co-op's notable financial performance, which keeps it better positioned to keep rates stable. Electric cooperatives differ from public utilities in that they are not profit driven. Co-op margins are reinvested for infrastructure and operations. Any reserves are distributed to members in the form of patronage capital, paid on a member's investment into the cooperative. A complete HWEC Board of Trustees Annual Report, which includes the Auditor's Report for fiscal year 2012-2013, can be accessed on the HWEC web site at www.hwe.coop
A surprise was an impassioned speech delivered by Olivia Velasquez, a junior at Pandora Gilboa High School. At the recent National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., Olivia's speech was chosen from among others submitted by 42 co-op state delegates across the U.S. to be delivered at the NRECA annual meeting in Nashville. Olivia will represent Hancock-Wood at this national level.
Operation Round Up Board Chairman Dan Branson predicted that this year the co-op would break the $300,000 mark in donations to the community since the program's inception in 2008.
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