A Flag Day salute greeted members on their way to Menard Electric’s annual meeting June 14th.
More than 370 registered members and their families, numbering nearly 750 in total, attended Menard Electric Cooperative’s 81st Annual Meeting on June 14th at PORTA High School in Petersburg. Before the business meeting, attendees enjoyed a grilled pork chop dinner, bucket truck rides, face painting and balloon twisting, a children’s electrical safety display, and visiting with co-op employees and directors. Members received a $15 bill credit and were entered into a prize drawing.
The theme of the meeting was Innovation Through Collaboration and Board President Jay Frye and General Manager Alisha Anker presented a joint report to the membership discussing how the co-op is using that principle to modernize its electrical system and operations.
Frye stated that “the co-op’s ability to innovate, or modernize, the electric system and its operations is key to its future.” He and Anker discussed infrastructure improvements that included upgrading 25 miles of line, upgrades to breakers at several substations, and irrigation improvements including the popular new load control program involving a mobile technology control application that allows the co-op to communicate with irrigation pivots.
Frye and Anker also discussed how modernizing the co-op’s net metering policy allows members with renewable energy such as solar to net meter up to 10 kw under a more efficient banking methodology and a new net billing policy that allows for larger installations. Twenty-four member-owned solar systems are currently connected and Alisha stated that she expects more interest and growth as state incentive programs are implemented; she directed members to the co-op’s renewable energy page on its website www.menard.com.
Anker discussed the co-op’s new outage management and communication system that integrates the co-op’s information database, system configuration maps and meter reading tools. “The application not only runs a prediction engine to quickly pin point the location of trouble on the system, but my favorite feature is that it communicates this information in real-time to the members, who can in return communicate their outage to us,” said Anker.
Co-op personnel aided members as needed in downloading the mobile MyMEC outage reporting app, which can be found by searching for Menard Outage in the Google Play or App store.
Finally, Frye and Anker discussed the co-op’s commitment to community, citing the recent examples of a new college scholarship program as well as the donated time of many of the co-op’s linemen and engineering personnel in installing lighting at the Mason County Fairgrounds; funding for the project was provided through a Sharing Success grant from the co-op and CoBank earlier this year.
Treasurer Dennis Ryan told members the co-op had recently returned $470,000 in capital credits for the year 1994 and a portion of 1995; bringing the total capital credits returned to over $9.7 million. He stated that members owned 40% of total assets/margins at the end of 2017, totaling $1,923,390; $1,141,366 of which are capital credits allocated from Prairie Power, Inc. and $192,551 allocated from CoBank and other financial resources; those credits will be returned to the co-op at a later date.
The co-op is governed by a Board of Directors made up of nine members elected from and by the membership to serve three-year terms. Directors Gary L Martin, District 2; D. Jay Frye, District 5; and Donald E. (Chuck) McMillan, District 9 ran unopposed and were re-elected by the members.
Members also voted to approve a bylaw change to Director qualifications stating a Director must have an active service that includes a facility charge and must have their primary residence within the geographical boundaries of the district served, but not necessarily on the cooperative’s system.
Menard Electric Cooperative is headquartered in Petersburg and serves more than 10,800 services over 2,590 miles of line in rural areas of Cass, Logan, Macon, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon and Tazewell counties. Menard Electric is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
An electrical safety display was just one of several family friendly activities that kept members engaged at this year’s annual meeting.