Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Minutes of the 76th Annual Membership Meeting
March 23, 2017
The 76th Annual Membership Meeting of the Whetstone Valley electric Cooperative, Inc. was called to order by President Bill Tostenson at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 23, 2017 in the Milbank High School Gymnasium, Milbank, SD.
President Tostenson stated that 250 voting members were present, creating a quorum. Tostenson invited everyone to stand and join Amberly Warren as she sang the National Anthem.
Pastor Jake Helstrom, Lead Pastor at Calvary Church of Milbank gave the invocation.
Tostenson then introduced the Board of Directors, former employees and directors, and guests.
Secretary Darren Strasser affirmed that the Notice of Annual Meeting and the unapproved minutes of the 2016 Annual Meeting had been mailed to each member. Tostenson called for a motion to waive the reading of the Certification of Notice of Annual Membership Meeting and to approve the minutes of the 75th Annual Meeting as mailed out. A motion from the floor was seconded and carried.
Tostenson called on Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker to present the Treasurer’s Report. She reviewed the 2016 Operating Statement, Balance Sheet, Auditor’s letter, Statistical Report, History of Capital Credits Paid, and list of Taxes paid in 2016. Her report showed that 2016 revenues were $9,278,123 and total expenses at $8,907,868. Total margins were $1,046,375. The cooperative’s balance sheet showed assets of $29,857,467, liabilities of $19,984,567 and equity of $9,872,900. Members were informed that capital credits in the amount of $174,400 would be credited to members’ in May. A motion from the floor to approve the Treasurer’s Report was seconded and carried.
Tostenson called on the Cooperative’s attorney, Harvey Oliver, to conduct the election of directors from districts 1, 2 and 5. Only one candidate for district 1 and one candidate for district 5 were submitted; Jodi Hook and Bill Tostenson respectively. Two candidates submitted petitions for districts 2; Dale Jensen and Kent Frerichs. After each candidate was given an opportunity to speak to the members, Oliver directed the members to mark their ballots for district 2 which were then collected and counted by the credentials and elections committee.
Jim Edwards, Chief Operations Officer of East River Electric Power Cooperative, was present to address the membership. In his report, Edwards presented information, pictures and video of damage and restoration efforts to the East River transmission system resulting from the ice storm of December, 25th, 2016. He reported that more than 500 East River structures had been damaged. All of the structures have been repaired at an approximate cost of four million dollars. Edwards also reported that a total of five transmission lines that provide electricity to Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative were damaged and could not be used; two of East River’s and three belonging to Western Area Power Administration. Edwards reported that an additional tie line is scheduled to be constructed in the next two years that would add an additional transmission route to the Whetstone Valley area.
Harvey Oliver announced that Dale Jensen had been elected to serve as director for District 2.
General Manager, Dave Page, welcomed the members to the 76th Annual Meeting of the Cooperative. He spoke of how Electric cooperatives are private, not-for-profit businesses governed by their owner-members. He also explained that any revenue that is above what’s needed for operation is returned to the members.
In his report on 2016 activities, Page noted that 30 miles of power-line had been replaced. Most of this was the conversion of overhead to underground line. The cooperative plans to replace more than 25 miles of line in 2017. This year, Whetstone will complete its 2014-2017 Construction Work Plan which calls for an investment of about $1.5 million each year. Plans are now being made for the next construction work plan.
Page discussed the rate increase implemented by Basin Electric Cooperative in August of 2016 and its impact on East River and Whetstone Valley Electric. He stated that East River, in a strong financial position was able to absorb much of the impact and that Whetstone realized a negative impact and was able to finish 2016 without raising rates. Page reported that the full impact of the Basin rate increase translated into an increase in wholesale power cost of about 8% in 2017. He stated that in order to recover costs and meet financial requirements of lenders, Whetstone would need to increase revenue by 8%. Page also discussed rate structures developed to recover the costs, comparing the base charge and energy charge. He cited a cost of service study that showed some of the cost of building and maintaining the distribution system had been recovered in the energy charge and that the new rate structure more accurately represents the cost of each component.
Page briefly summarized the events of the Christmas day ice storm. He reported that about 300 of Whetstone’s poles and many miles of wire had been damaged. The cost of repair is estimated to be about $800,000 and FEMA has offered assistance with the cost of reconstruction. Page thanked the assisting cooperatives that sent crewmembers and equipment to assist with the restoration efforts. He also thanked Otter Tail Power Company and East River Electric for their assistance.
Page commended the efforts of the cooperative’s employees and their dedication to the members during the storm outage and throughout the year. The members assembled in the room joined in a round of applause for all of the employees.
Page also complimented the board of directors on their efforts to become educated on the business of the cooperative and the electric industry, as well as engaging with other cooperatives throughout the state and nation.
Three employees were honored with service awards. Kenne Dailie, Apprentice Electrician, 10 years, Brandon Schmieg, Journeyman Lineman, 10 years and Jessica Schuchard Administrative Aid, 5 years.
Following his report, Page announced that Josh Hoeke, Bryan Wiese, and Savannah Sahnow were chosen to participate in the Cooperative Youth Excursion in 2017. Kaylee Argo was chosen as the representative for the National Rural Electric Youth Rally in Washington, DC. Kadon Leddy was congratulated as the 2017 winner of the Basin Electric/Whetstone Valley Electric $1,000 Scholarship for a member dependent. Paige Johnson was awarded a $1000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative as a dependent of an employee in the Basin Cooperative network.
With no further business, and a motion from the floor, President Tostenson adjourned the meeting.
There was a drawing for numerous door prizes with Neal Pauli of Twin Brooks winning the grand prize of $500.