81st Annual Meeting Held
81st Annual Meeting held with several precautions
Verendrye Electric Cooperative members re-elected three incumbent board members at a scaled down annual meeting on Oct. 22 that emphasized social distancing and personal protective equipment.
Board members Maxine Rognlien (East District), Bob Wolf (Central District) and Bucky Anderson (West District) were each re-elected for another three-year term without opposition at the 81st Annual Meeting.
The meeting was held at the State Fair Center in the 10,000-square foot FFA Hall. There were 200 chairs set up in pairs spaced 6 feet apart. There were 65 registered members seated in the hall which has a capacity of 1,000. Members were provided masks and hand sanitizer as they entered. Others watched the meeting online via a live stream. There are normally over 3,000 people at the Verendrye Annual meeting spread out among several halls at the State Fair Center.
“Due to COVID concerns, this annual meeting has been abbreviated and will only include the business meeting,” said Verendrye Chariman Blaine Bruner.
Bruner reviewed the finances of the cooperative, noting that Verendrye Electric is in good shape and has met all of its financial ratios as required by the Rural Utility Service and other lenders.
For 2019, Verendrye reported revenue of $52.9 million and a margin of $4.55 million, with $2.1 million of that being non-cash in the form of allocations that will be paid to Verendrye in the future, mostly from our generation and transmission cooperatives. Verendrye paid a record $1.675 million in capital credits to its members this year.
Kilowatt-hour sales increased about 1 percent and the cooperative added around 150 new accounts. Rates were held stable once again, marking the 4th year in a row with no rate increases.
The average outage time was 1.3 hours per meter. Another way look at the reliability is the power was on 99.98% of the time in 2019.
“Keeping the power on 99.98 percent of the time takes an awful lot of hard work and dedication by our employees.” Bruner said.
To increase reliability Verendrye continually replaces older line and poles each year. This year the cooperative plans on replacing 38 miles of older underground cable, converting 20 miles of aged overhead line to underground line and replacing 400 poles.
General Manager Randy Hauck discussed several work procedures to keep employees safe, including installing glass shields at the front desk, having some employees work at home, requiring social distancing and providing personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer. Buildings are open to members, but Verendrye limits most visits to the lobby.
“Our number one goal is to keep the power on and to accomplish that we need to have a healthy workforce,” Hauck said. “We also want to make sure any members we interact with on a daily basis are kept safe.”
This year’s annual meeting was a major departure from past annual meetings that included a family-friendly atmosphere with a meal, kids’ activities, entertainment and prizes. The annual meeting is usually held the second week of June, but had to be postponed to October because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“Hopefully things settle down by next year and we can have a normal annual meeting,” Hauck said.
Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for June 10.
The board reorganizes after every annual meeting. Blaine Bruner was elected President of the Board, Karen Hennessy as Vice President, John Warner as Secretary/Treasurer and Maxine Rognlien as Assistant Secretary.Treasurer.