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Members of McDonough Power Cooperative re-elected three area men to the organization’s board of directors. The re-elected directors from left are: Robert Dwyer of Roseville, and Jerry Riggins and Steve Lynn, both of Macomb.

Members of McDonough Power Cooperative were updated on power supply, infrastructure and right-of-way projects, and programs the co-op is participating in to enrich its community and others in need at the organization’s 78th Annual Meeting of Members held Thursday, Aug. 27 at The Crossing in Macomb.

President/CEO Mike Smith addressed the Clean Power Act that is requiring states to cut carbon emissions significantly thus forcing a shift in how power is produced in the U.S. “Part of the problem is that this was done by regulation and not legislation, which means those who actually generate power really didn’t have much voice when it came time to put the details into the plan,” said Smith. He added that the Clean Power Act will be challenged in court and will play out over several years. Coal, which as recent as 2014 was still producing 45 percent of the power generated in the U.S., would be phased out in favor of low- or no-carbon emitters.

To help the co-op comply with the Act, Prairie Power, Inc., McDonough Power’s generation and transmission cooperative (G & T), has a stake in the Prairie State Generating Campus in Marissa, the cleanest and most efficient coal-fired plant in the state and the last coal plant that will be built in Illinois in the foreseeable future. In addition, the G & T has invested in new natural gas generation near Winchester, which is slated to go online later this year, two solar farms and a wind farm. All of this, coupled with keeping a close eye on the energy markets and investing wisely, has allowed Prairie Power, Inc. members to have a more diverse energy portfolio. Smith said, “We still strongly believe that diversity of fuel: coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables and the market all play a role in price stability.”

Commitment to community is one of seven principles that are the foundation of cooperatives. During the meeting, Smith discussed, and the members in attendance voted to approve a benevolent program called “Operation Round-up.” The program allows members who participate to round their bills to the next dollar, with the difference going into a fund monitored by a committee of volunteer members. According to Smith, the program is estimated to cost the average member $6 per year, or 50 cents per month. One hundred percent of the funds collected will be used for a quantified need in the community such as a town’s tornado warning program, a “jaws of life” tool for a volunteer fire department or for someone in need. The committee would determine the best use of the money. Smith made it clear that the money would not be used for delinquent bills or political causes.

Another community assistance program discussed was McDonough Power’s participation in the National Rural Electric Cooperative’s international program. “The purpose for the international program mirrors the original mandate for the Rural Electrification Act of 1935, to improve the life of people through the power of electricity,” explained Smith.  The program has helped improve the quality of life for rural communities in 42 countries. McDonough Power Journeyman Line
man Joe Wernsman, who recently spent three weeks in rural Haiti building line and helping bring power to impoverished areas, was honored at the meeting for his commitment to helping others. Smith said, “I believe that little by little, what seems like a small contribution by some can ultimately pay big dividends in the future for others.”

Board Chairman Steve Lynn addressed the renovation of the co-op’s long-time headquarters, saying several local contractors were used in the project allowing the money to benefit the local economy and community. “This was a project that was long overdue, but now we have the advantage of the state-of-the-art facility that will better serve our membership for future generations,” said Lynn.

This year’s LaVern and Nola McEntire Lineman Scholarship was awarded to Cody Tebbe of Highland. The one-year, $1,500 scholarship will help to defray the costs to attend the lineworker’s school conducted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in conjunction with Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.

Lynn also highlighted some infrastructure and right-of-way clearing projects the co-op is engaged in. The new Woodland Substation on Wigwam Hollow Road replaced one that had received serious water damage. When the substation was energized, a phasing project was also completed to allow power load to be moved from station to station without disruption of member service. A pole replacement schedule continues and the line clearance program, a joint program with Spoon River Electric Cooperative, is now in its eighth year. “Our goal is to be around the system every four years clearing trees and brush to prevent potential outages and to improve reliability to the fullest extent possible.” said Lynn.

During the treasurer’s report, Jeff Moore reported that the co-op saw $359,126 in operating margins for the year.

During the meeting, Robert Dwyer of Roseville, and Steve Lynn and Jerry Riggins, both from Macomb, were re-elected to the co-op’s board of directors, which demonstrates the “democratic member control” cooperative principle.

McDonough Power Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of 750 local, consumer-owned electric utilities around the country. McDonough Power is committed to providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves more than 5,181 meters over 1,413 miles of line in parts of Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Schuyler and Warren counties. For more information visit www.mcdonoughpower.com. McDonough Power Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer