General Manager's report from 2018 Annual Meeting

Since day one at Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (HOEC), our mission hasn’t changed. That mission is to be a leader in delivering cost efficient, reliable energy with value-added service to our member-owners. We take this mission seriously and work diligently to ensure that we continue to provide you, our members, with the safe, reliable and cost efficient energy that you have come to expect.

During our 79th Annual Meeting of Membership held recently at the West Plains Civic Center, I updated you, our members, on topics surrounding HOEC. This article is intended to highlight some of those topics.

As many members may recall, one year ago our area was hit with catastrophic flooding. Between 40 and 50 river crossings were taken out and numerous bridges and roadways were washed away. The unprecedented amounts of rainfall made it very difficult for our crews to get to certain areas to safely restore power. We were forced to wait until the waters receded. In my 33 years of service, I can honestly say the flood was the most challenging storm I have ever worked. Nonetheless, our crews began working immediately to make repairs and safely restore power to our members. Crews worked long, exasperating hours. They replaced 239 poles, 94 transformers and 260 meters. The flooding cost your cooperative $2.2 million.

Just when we thought we were getting ahead of the flood, we were hit with several severe storms over the Memorial Day weekend. These storms brought lightning, high-winds, and more rainfall which ultimately lead to more damage and more power outages. While most were enjoying a three day weekend, personnel at the cooperative worked through their holiday weekend to restore power to our members. Our team knows that what we do affects the quality of life of our members.

During prolonged outages we do our best to keep our members informed through Facebook, radio and newspapers. In a survey, 53% of our membership said they utilize social media. HOEC has a Facebook page. We post safety messages, system improvement construction projects, outage information/updates, events your cooperative is involved in and much more. If you haven’t “Liked” us on Facebook, please do so.

As I stated in our mission earlier, your cooperative works diligently to provide you with reliable power that you have come to expect. When it comes to reliability, clearing right of ways is always at the top of the list. An effective tree-trimming program for areas near power lines is crucial to HOEC’s mission of delivering cost efficient, reliable energy to you, our members. Last year, your cooperative re-cleared 616 miles of right of way and trimmed 4,420 trees. We have gotten more aggressive with our right of way re-clearing. This helps ensure reliable power for you while being efficient with your money.

Lastly, for the past 6 years I have been able to stand up at Annual Meeting and tell you that there is no planned rate increase. We haven’t had to adjust rates since 2011. That speaks volumes to how efficient your cooperative operates. Many cooperatives have already made adjustments to their rates, but we wanted to wait as long as possible. Unfortunately, the time has come when I have to tell you that we will have to adjust our rates this year. Major contributors for the need to adjust rates are:

  • The last two wholesale power provider rate increases for HOEC came in 2016 and 2017; HOEC absorbed those and didn’t pass them along to our members.
  • The cost of the flood was $2.2 million, plus the added cost of Memorial Day storms; FEMA did not reimburse us for all the damage incurred.
  • A new PEAK was set in January 2018; the estimated cost is $500,000.

In conclusion, your cooperative will continue to work hard for you. Our continued goal is to keep your rates below the state average. As always, our team takes a lot of pride in what we do for our members as seen during the flood. We look forward to continuing our mission of being a leader in delivering cost efficient, reliable energy with value-added service to our member-owners.

Dan Singletary, CEO/General Manager, HOEC

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