Three trustees were re-elected at the 75th annual meeting of the Adams Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) held Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Red Barn Convention Center in Winchester. Approximately 450 members and guests were in attendance.
Re-elected to represent the cooperative’s District 1 was Blanchard (Buck) Campbell of West Union. A lifelong resident of Adams County, Campbell retired from Emerson Electric, Browning Division, after 36 years of service. He has served on Adams REC’s board for nine years and passed the necessary courses from the National Rural Electric Cooperatives (NRECA) to earn both the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate and the Board Leadership Certificate.
Kenneth McCann of West Union was re-elected to represent Adams REC’s District 5. Also a lifelong resident of Adams County, he has been an employee of General Electric Peebles Test Operation for 28 years. He is president of the Ramblin’ Relics of Southern Ohio, serves on the Ohio Resource Conservation and Development Committee for Adams County and is the secretary of the Adams County Cattlemen’s Association. A member of Adams REC’s board for nine years, he too has earned both the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate and the Board Leadership Certificate from the NRECA.
Stephen Huff of Russellville was re-elected to represent the cooperative’s District 8. Retired from the Ohio Department of Transportation after 27 years as a transportation manager at the Brown County Maintenance Facility, Huff is president of the Byrd Township School Preservation Committee and a member of the Brown County Cattlemen’s Association and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. He has been on Adams REC’s board for six years and has completed the coursework for the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate.
Receiving service awards at the annual meeting were General Manager Bill Swango, who has been a cooperative employee for 25 years, Mike Whitley and David Ralston, both cooperative employees for 15 years, and Charles Newman, who has served for 10 years on the cooperative’s board.
In his report to members, Board president Donald McCarty focused on the fact that 2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of Adams REC in 1940. He commented that the incorporation meeting for the cooperative took place in July of 1940. A total of 543 members signed up the first year, requiring 217 miles of electric lines to serve them. Adams REC received approval for its first REA loan of $228,000 in February of 1941. Construction of the first electric lines began with the first stakes being driven around the Marble Furnace area and proceeding southward at two miles per day. Since then, nine general managers have served the cooperative.
“There have been lots of changes over the past 75 years, but one thing that’s stayed the same is that we work to get electricity to you as efficiently as we can and to keep it as cheap as we can,” McCarty said.
General Manager Bill Swango reported that Adams REC now services 1, 300 miles of line, a figure equal to the distance from Columbus, Ohio, to San Antonio, Texas. Much of the equipment Adams REC has at its disposal wasn’t available in 1940, Swango said, and includes five line bucket trucks, two right-of-way bucket trucks, two digger derricks, a tracked digger derrick with a bucket, a trencher, two brush chippers, two mowers and other smaller vehicles. On any given day, Adams REC may have crews working in three separate counties. Swango reported that Adams REC connected 63 new services in 2014 and has connected 39 new services in the first half of 2015.
Adams REC also has continued to improve the technology assisting the work of the cooperative, Swango said. An outage management system was implemented in February, which aids in the restoration of outages by predicting how far the outage reaches and what line devices have been activated. In June, Adams REC began using the Cooperative Resources Center to handle after-hours calls, which “proved vitally important on July 15,” Swango said, when Adams REC’s headquarters was struck by lightning and had no phone service all day. The CRC was able to take members’ calls, with information routed to the outage management system so crews could be dispatched.
Swango told members they could see an outage viewer at the cooperative’s website, www.adamsrec.com. When outages occur, members should still call and inform the cooperative, not just post the information on the Facebook page, he added.
Erika Ackley, Adams REC’s manager of finance and administration, reported that in 2014 the cooperative had a margin of $1,539,355, a 7 percent decrease from 2013. The cooperative sold more than 114 million kilowatt hours, five million more than in 2013. Revenue was $15.8 million in 2014, an increase of 1.6 percent over the previous year, with 85 percent of that coming from residential sales and 11 percent from commercial sources.
The cooperative spent $8.9 million, or 56.6 percent of total revenues, to purchase power from Buckeye Power, the electric generation and transmission cooperative owned by Ohio’s rural electric cooperatives. This was a 3.7 percent increase over 2013. Total cost of distributing the electric and running the cooperative went up $292,000 in 2014, largely due to the depreciation of the cooperative’s metering system, Ackley said. The utility plant is now valued at more than $40.3 million, a growth of 1.71 percent over 2013, and the cooperative currently owes $20,505,285 in debt, a reduction of $985,000 from 2013.
Ackley said the 2014 margin of nearly $1.6 million was passed along to members as capital credits, with $156,000 retired to the estates of deceased members. A general retirement of capital credits was made in November that paid the balance of 1991 capital credits and 52 percent of 1992 capital credits to those members who had service during those years.
Also speaking at the annual meeting was Doug Miller, vice president of statewide services at Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of cooperatives that Adams is a part of. He congratulated the cooperative on reaching the milestone of 75 years, praising “those who built the foundation we have today.”
He said Adams REC members are now enjoying a period of rate stability after a period of several years of rising rates while Buckeye Power was making major environmental upgrades.
That rate stability is threatened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s issuing of its Clean Power Plan in early August, which calls for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in Ohio by 36 percent from 2005 levels. To achieve those goals may require the shuttering of coal plants and an increased reliance on natural gas and renewable energy with a net result of members paying $40 to $50 more on their monthly bills, with only a very small decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Miller said.
Ohio’s attorney general has joined a number of other states in filing a law suit against the EPA, saying that it has overreached its authority in issuing this plan.
Miller urged members to go to www.action.coop to send letters both to the White House and to their senators and representatives urging that the EPA’s plan not be implemented until the outcome of these lawsuits has been determined. “We’ve always depended on the grassroots efforts of our members, and we need to continue to make sure our voices are heard,” Miller said.
Adams REC serves more than 7,400 members in parts of Adams, Brown, Highland, Pike and Scioto counties.