Thanks for joining us Aug. 26, in celebration of 80 years of cooperative service.
More than 500 members and guests attended the 80th annual meeting of Carroll Electric Cooperative at the Carroll County Fairgrounds on Aug. 26.
For the second year, members had the option of voting for the board of trustees by mail, phone, or online ballot before the meeting, as well as at the event on Saturday. Members re-elected Diane Tarka, District 2 and William Casper, District 9. William “Todd” Brown was elected to serve District 7.
CEO and General Manager Larry Fenbers reported that the cooperative had made investments in substation and transmission equipment to bolster service reliability, and it also continues to rebuild aging lines.
However, technology can’t resolve all outages – sometimes, Mother Nature has other plans.
“Trees continue to cause a significant number of outages, and we are continuing the more aggressive approach to this problem that we started in 2010,” Fenbers said.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an insect that infects and kills ash trees, is causing further problems for the cooperative. Trees outside of the typical 30-foot right-of-way are falling on power lines and causing outages. The problem is so severe that Carroll Electric invited Jeremy Scherf, a service forester with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, to tell members how EAB affects electric service and how members can be aware of infected and lost ash trees on their properties.
“Unfortunately, there are no cost-effective ways to protect your trees,” Scherf said. “There are a lot of dead and dying trees along the co-op’s right-of-way because ash trees like sunlight. It’s a monumental task. Remember that we’re a team in all this – you, the members, and the staff.”
Scherf also reminded members that dying ash trees are extremely brittle and dangerous to take down, and to contact the Forestry Division by visiting forestry.ohiodnr.gov or calling 877-247-8733 if you need some “free advice” about your trees.
“Safety is incredibly important when removing trees,” he said. “Remove it when it still has some green leaves because it won’t be as brittle. But regardless, use extreme caution when taking down a tree. In many cases, you may want to call in a professional.”
Because Carroll Electric is a not-for-profit cooperative, it operates at cost, and when the board of trustees determines the co-op is in healthy financial shape, members receive returns in the form of capital credits, based on their patronage. Carroll Electric was able to return $820,000 in capital credits to members last year, despite losing commercial accounts and mild weather that led to lower residential electric use.
“While this mild weather may have helped your monthly bills, it hurts the co-op’s bottom line,” Fenbers said.
Helping to bolster revenue will be two new commercial loads, the Rover Compressor Station and The Bluffs, formerly Atwood Lodge, later this year, he added.
In his report to members, board President Harold Sutton recognized retiring trustee Kenny Brown, who has served Carroll Electric members for 36 years, with a plaque commemorating his service.
“He will be sorely missed by the board, and especially me,” Sutton said. “Kenny causes us all to think harder and dig deeper. He has been a great servant to the co-op.”
Also at the meeting, the co-op’s scholarship winners and Washington, D.C., Youth Tour participants were recognized, and Fenbers reported that Carroll Electric’s Relay For Life team raised almost $10,000 in 2017, bringing the seven-year total to more than $106,000.
Carroll Electric members also made possible $28,000 in grants to 12 recipients last year, and $25,000 to 6 recipients thus far in 2017, via the People for People Fund, which allows members to round up their electric bill to the nearest dollar and donate the change to a foundation. The People for People Fund has its own governing board, separate from the co-op board of trsutees, and all the money stays in the six counties the co-op serves.
The average Carroll Electric member donates just $6 per year to the People for People Fund, said Jack Buettner, chairman of the fund board.
“In the seventeen years since the People for People Fund was established, cooperative members have provided $767,642.14 to individuals and organizations in need,” Buettner said. “On behalf of the recipients, thank you for participating in the People for People Fund roundup program. Together we are making our community a better place to live.”
Annual meeting speeches in their entirety are available at www.cecpower.coop.