The Union Rural Electric (URE) board and staff welcomed members Saturday, June 4, at the cooperative’s headquarters in Marysville for the annual meeting of members.
Steve Patton, chairman of the board of trustees, introduced his fellow trustees and mentioned that all trustees have earned the highest level of trustee certification through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Jeff Reinhard, trustee, introduced the URE scholarship winners for 2022: Caridad Dupote-Fosnot of Dublin Jerome High School, Alyssa Beeching of Marysville High School, Elizabeth Lombardi of Jonathan Alder High School, Audrey Ferguson of North Union High School, and Olivia Vollrath of Fairbanks High School. He also introduced the 2022 Youth Tour winners, Cannon Moser and Kennedy Yurkovich, both of Marysville Early College High School.
Dave Speicher, URE CFO/VP finance and accounting, briefed members on the cooperative’s financial outlook, which he described as very positive. He cited URE as the fastest-growing electric cooperative in Ohio, adding over 300 new accounts per year, which is an approximate 3% growth rate. Speicher said, “Growth helps hold off the need for a rate increase. The URE distribution rates have not increased for the past eight years.” He told members, “URE will conduct a rate study next winter, depending on economic conditions. Rest assured, URE will do what we can to manage costs to prevent or minimize impact on your bill.”
Pat O’Loughlin, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives’ president and CEO, said that Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives celebrated 80 years of service this year. O’Loughlin highlighted Buckeye Power’s role in providing reliable electricity to cooperative members: “Unifying our power supply needs in 1965 under Buckeye Power has allowed Ohio’s electric cooperatives to own and operate our own power generation resources. Buckeye Power first invested in coal generation to take advantage of this local resource and its cost advantages. Buckeye Power continues to operate these plants after investing $1 billion in environmental controls, making our fleet among the cleanest coal power plants in the world.” He said Buckeye Power will continue to add renewable resources when opportunities are available. Collective decision-making among 24 electric cooperatives in Ohio allows Buckeye Power to provide competitive and stable wholesale power costs to nearly 1 million Ohioans.
O’Loughlin committed to continuing to partner with URE to educate and inform members on local cooperative news as well as important industry issues through Ohio Cooperative Living magazine and social media channels.
The Central Ohio Lineworker Training (COLT) program is training the next generation of lineworkers to work safely and efficiently to serve cooperative members. O’Loughlin said that this unified training pays off every day at home and especially during severe storms, allowing us to pull together 40 to 60 linemen from cooperatives across the state to provide assistance to the cooperatives hardest hit by extreme weather events. In the past year, Ohio cooperatives have assisted not only their fellow Ohio cooperatives but also a Virginia cooperative hard hit by snow and ice.
Chairman Patton discussed changes within URE before the nearly 150 attendees at the meeting. He stated that the board will change with this year’s election and talked about how the dynamic of a group changes each time a new person joins the board. He looked forward to the opportunity to help the new trustee or trustees learn about the cooperative.
URE President/CEO Anthony Smith focused his comments on URE employees, discussing how each department contributes to serving our members. He said, “All of these groups work together toward the common cause of making a difference in our community by delivering safe, high-quality, reliable energy to our members and communities at fair prices. None of these groups could fulfill that mission alone. It is in working together that we can accomplish so much here at URE.”
Emily Zuver, nominating committee chairman, delivered the election results. URE members elected a new board member, Mark Lotycz, to represent District 2 and reelected Jeff Wilson for District 7. Adam Davis, general counsel, performed the swearing-in duties.