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Trustees re-elected at Carroll Electric Cooperative annual meeting

CARROLLTON — Three incumbent trustees have been re-elected to the board of trustees of Carroll Electric Cooperative Inc.

Harold Barber, Kevin Tullis, and Robert McCort were elected during the cooperative’s annual meeting Aug. 24 at the Carroll County Fairgrounds. They represent Districts 3, 5 and 6 of the cooperative’s territory.

Larry Fenbers, CEO and general manager, told members that the cooperative had a successful 2018.

“We finished 2018 with a very strong financial position and great margins. This was largely due to increased kilowatt hour sales as a result of both cold and hot seasons,” said Fenbers.

Fenbers reported that the cooperative returned $621,000 in capital credits to members in 2018. Capital credits, a distinguishing characteristic of membership in an electric cooperative, are margins remaining after all expenses have been paid that are returned to members in proportion to their use in a given period.

However, Fenbers said that 2019 has presented several challenges, starting with a New Year’s windstorm and additional severe weather events since.

“We’ve had several cases of high winds, downed trees, torrential rains, flooding and wash outs,” Fenbers said. “These have caused unplanned expenses and been detrimental to our margins.”

Additionally, Fenbers reported that milder weather this year has caused a $254,000 decrease in revenue compared to last year.

“From a financial position, 2019 is looking to be quite different from last year.”

The cooperative continues to address reliability issues, having successfully replaced the transformer at the Sugar Grove substation, with planning under way to replace the transformer at the Merrick substation. Rebuilding aging lines, improving tie capacities and responsibly trimming trees are all methods used by CEC to ensure reliability.

In his annual address, board President Harold Sutton reflected on the many changes to the local economy and power generation during the past decade — and how they have motivated the cooperative to diligently plan for the organization’s future.

“We have a strategic planning session scheduled for February where we will try and compile strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” said Sutton. “Change seems to be happening at a faster pace than it used to, and opportunities are shorter lived.”

Sutton encouraged CEC members to provide feedback to trustees.

“The health of a co-op is maintained when member-owners have a say,” Sutton said. “If you have any ideas or concerns, don’t hesitate to give them to a board member. They will get discussed at a board meeting.”

Craig Grooms, vice president of engineering and operations at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, briefed CEC members on their power supplier and statewide services association.

Grooms reported that Ohio’s co-ops have successfully assumed operational control at the Cardinal Power Plant – the co-ops’ primary source of wholesale power – and two natural gas peaking plants used on the hottest and coldest days of the year. The three facilities were previously operated by American Electric Power on behalf of the co-ops.

“Looking forward, we think there are improvements and savings that will come from having a smaller, more focused organization being in charge,” Grooms said.

Grooms also highlighted additional services OEC provides to local distribution co-ops, including economic development assistance, employee and lineworker training, and political advocacy.

“Please know that we exist to serve your needs for safe, clean, affordable, and reliable electricity,” said Grooms. “We intend to keep making positive contributions to your community as part of our mission to serve you.”

The event concluded with lunch, provided by Ponderosa, and a joint presentation by the Carrollton Fire Department, Carroll County Safe Communities, and CEC.

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