Members of Norris Electric Cooperative packed into the gymnasium of Newton Community High School for their co-op’s 81st annual meeting of members held Saturday, Feb. 9. During the meeting, consumer-members were provided updates about their cooperative from its leadership.
Board President Gordon McClure welcomed members and explained plans for the co-op. He said the board of directors and management of Norris Electric met to develop a 10-year plan, review strengths and weaknesses, and create goals.
Subjects considered include potential growth of load, demand on power lines and the implementation of new technology. A study was also provided of Norris Electric grounds and building needs for trucks and equipment, along with an evaluation of the office headquarters to make sure it is a safe and productive work environment for employees.
The board reviewed the current load and demand on existing substations and the need for future substations. This will give the ability to back feed lines from one substation to another in the event of storms or required repair. The board also took into consideration the age of Norris’ electrical system, such as lines and poles that provide safe and reliable electricity.
“Let me remind you the co-op is 81 years old,” McClure said. “Wear and tear takes its toll, and what we do today and in the future will determine the safe and affordable delivery of electricity to future generations and beyond.”
Norris Electric Manager Tamara Phillips followed up McClure’s statement, discussing the importance of reliable power and modern technologies, and why updating the electrical system is necessary.
“While rebuilding the lines could take at least six years, when completed it will help to guarantee the longevity of Norris Electric for many years to come,” Phillips said. In 2018, the cooperative completed 27 miles of work rebuilding lines and replaced 1,179 poles throughout its system.
Additionally, Phillips indicated that she does not anticipate an increase of energy costs in the foreseeable future, partly due to the new power purchase contract with VISTRA which started on Jan. 1, 2018 and runs through 2026. Phillips anticipates it will help keep rates affordable for years to come.
“Because we are owned by you, our members, we have a mutual interest to ensure that both the co-op and members thrive.” Phillips said. “This makes our motto ‘Owned by those we serve’ even more fitting. Thank you for letting Norris Electric provide power for the generations.”
Board Treasurer Dean Dietrich reported that the cooperative had revenue of $49.2 million, of which 64 percent was used to purchase wholesale power. About 28 percent of the total was used for operating expenses, depreciation expenses and taxes. The remaining 8 percent, amounting to 4.3 million, will be allocated back to the members as capital credits.
“We are thankful there were no major weather events in 2018, which resulted in slightly higher margins,” Dietrich said. The increase means the value of Norris Electric went up almost 7.5 percent, showing the cooperative is in good financial condition.
During the meeting, it was announced that Kurt Holscher of Crawford County, Ted Helmink of Cumberland, Justin Parcel of Clark County and Dave Sheppard of Jasper County were re-elected to new three-year terms on the board of directors.
At the end of the meeting, Norris Electric gave away many prizes including four $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors.
Photo: Members of Norris Electric’s board of directors gathered for a photo prior to the annual meeting. Back row (L to R): Dan Strine, Ted Helmink and Scott Weiss. Middle row: Gilbert Garbe, Kurt Holscher, Ron Viehman and Dean Dietrich. Front row: Gordon McClure, Dave Sheppard and Gary Buser. Not pictured, Justin Parcel.