Carroll Electric holds annual meeting

BOARD OF TRUSTEES — Consumer-members elected trustee candidate Todd Brown, center, and re-elected Diane Tarka, left, and Bill Casper to serve three-year terms on the Carroll Electric Cooperative Inc. Board of Trustees. Trustees of the nonprofit cooperative are responsible for setting company policy and monitoring the finances of the business.

CARROLLTON — More than 500 members and guests attended the 80th-annual meeting of Carroll Electric Cooperative at the Carroll County Fairgrounds.

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. Members re-elected Diane Tarka, District 2, and William Casper, District 9. William Brown was elected to serve District 7.

CEO and General Manager Larry Fenbers reported the cooperative made investments in substation and transmission equipment to bolster service reliability and continues to rebuild aging lines.

“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, an insect that infects and kills ash trees, is causing further problems for the cooperative, according to officials. 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. …”

Scherf reminded members that dying ash trees are brittle and dangerous to take down and to contact the Forestry Division by visiting or calling (877) 247-8733.

In other business, 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 for 36 years, with a plaque commemorating his service.

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 approximately $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 six recipients so 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 trustees, and all the money stays in the six counties the co-op serves.