Capital Electric Cooperative held its 70th annual meeting of the membership June 1 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck. More than 1,000 members, families and guests attended to learn about cooperative issues; to collect a capital credit check if they qualified; to enjoy entertainment from Joe Friday’s Dixieland Jazz Band and eat a free meal; and to cast their vote and elect three members to serve on the board of directors.
This year, the board of directors approved the retirement of 50 percent of unretired “co-op” capital credits from 1999 totaling more than $481,000, which exclude capital credits allocated by the co-op’s generation and transmission providers. Employees distributed checks prior to the meeting. Unclaimed checks were mailed to members who were unable to attend.
During the business meeting, three members were elected to serve three-year terms on the board of directors. In District 1, incumbent Sheri Haugen-Hoffart was re-elected to the board. She has served as a director since June 2010. In District 2, the cooperative had one vacancy for a director residing in sub-district 2A. Richard Koski was the only candidate to reside in sub-district 2A, so he was elected by a voice vote of the membership prior to the election. Incumbent Arlene Olson was also re-elected to the board; she has represented district 2B for the past 24 years. The cooperative congratulates Haugen-Hoffart, Koski and Olson for being elected by the membership to serve a three-year term. The cooperative also thanks District 1 candidate Dave Charles, and District 2 candidates Andrew Frohlich, Arthur Hendrix and Vernon Laning, for vying for a board position and being active cooperative members.
After having served on the board of directors for 33 years, David Liuska, a Wing resident who represented District 2A, chose not to seek re-election. Capital Electric thanks him for the time, knowledge and experience he’s provided in the board room and at meetings across North Dakota and the United States over the years, representing electric cooperatives. We know this will provide David and his wife, Marcia, more time for work on the farm, and with family and friends.
The cooperative membership also voted on a bylaw amendment regarding redistricting. The Capital Electric board of directors had proposed an amendment to the bylaws to redefine the boundaries and the definitions of the director districts: from District 1 and District 2, with District 2 subdivided as Sub-District 2A and 2B; to District 1, District 2 and District 3. Agreeing with the need to have a more equal representation based on membership in each district, Capital Electric members voted in favor of the bylaw amendment. The board will move forward with the bylaw change, which will be effective with the annual meeting in 2017.
Business meeting highlights
The Capital Electric membership was welcomed by U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer, as well as other candidates running for statewide and national government positions. Nicole Lautenschlager, a certified public accountant with the auditing firm of Eide Bailly LLP, presented the annual financial report.
LeAna Hug, board president of the Charitable Trust, gave a report on the cooperative’s Operation Round Up program and urged members to opt into the program if they do not currently participate.
Natasha Hesse, a Century High School graduate, accepted the Capital Electric/Basin Electric Power Cooperative student scholarship. She plans to attend South Dakota State University, where she will study medicine in the hopes of becoming a pediatrician or obstetrician
The president’s and manager’s combined report was given by Board President Dwight Wrangham and new Manager Paul Fitterer. Formerly the cooperative’s business manager, Fitterer took over as general manager in April, following the retirement of Lars Nygren.
Before the report was given, Wrangham asked for a moment of silence to remember those who have been associated with Capital Electric and passed; most recently, former general manager Syd Soma and longtime director Gene Hilken.
“Their dedication to the co-op was a tribute to our membership, and they will be remembered as leaders in the co-op community,” Wrangham said.
He and Fitterer then shared some of the past and current events and activities at Capital Electric, updated the membership on power-supply issues, and gave an update on the progress of infrastructure improvements.
Updates on the transmission side included:
• Central Power Electric Cooperative, Capital Electric’s power provider, has been making significant enhancements to Capital’s electric system to add reliability and redundancy in the transmission of power, and help Capital prepare for future growth.
• Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a power provider for Central Power, is reporting positive results from joining the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. However, a decrease in activity in the Bakken, mild weather, and a reduction in natural gas and commodity prices are causing some negative effects in the industry. Basin Electric is also dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which would have an immediate impact on the cost of power in North Dakota and across the United States. Basin Electric is working with the State of North Dakota on how to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, assuming the plan moves forward. The generation and transmission cooperative continues to develop renewable energy resources and invest in emissions control technology to make its already clean generation fleet even cleaner.
Updates on the distribution side included:
• An .8 percent increase in kilowatt-hour sales in 2015;
• An increase of 722 new accounts in 2015, which represents an increase of 3.9 percent;
• Stable electric rates for the past four years, as Capital Electric has used revenue deferral dollars to offset the need for rate increases. The cooperative will continue to see significant wholesale rate pressures and anticipates a rate adjustment will be necessary later this year.
• Investments in technology, including SmartHub, the system that allows members to access their accounts by computer or mobile device. This fall, the cooperative is also expanding its use of mobile technology by bringing real-time connectivity to employees in the field. Work will be done electronically from the office to the field, improving efficiency, data accuracy and real-time service information.
• Investments in infrastructure: adding underground distribution line and retiring overhead line; rebuilding overhead line; and automating substations to provide real-time data and the ability to control substation breakers from headquarters.
Fitterer concluded by noting the cooperative did not have any lost-time accidents during 2015. “We want to thank everyone for their dedication and effort to safety and efficiency,” he said.