Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Minutes of the 78th Annual Membership Meeting
March 21, 2019
The 78th Annual Membership Meeting of the Whetstone Valley electric Cooperative, Inc. was held on Thursday, March 21, 2019 in the Milbank High School Gymnasium in Milbank, SD. Voting polls opened at 5:30 pm when a quorum of 50 members had registered. At 6:30 pm, voting closed and the meeting was called to order by President Bill Tostenson.
President Tostenson stated that 253 voting members were present, creating a quorum. Tostenson invited everyone to stand and join in the singing of the National Anthem led by Nathan Loutsch.
Pastor Albert Meier, Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church of Milbank gave the invocation.
Tostenson then introduced the Board of Directors, former directors and employees, and special guests.
Secretary Darren Strasser affirmed that the Notice of Annual Meeting and the unapproved minutes of the 2018 Annual Meeting had been mailed to each member. Tostenson called for a motion to waive the reading of the Notice of Annual Membership Meeting and to approve the minutes of the 77th Annual Meeting as mailed out. A motion from the floor was seconded and carried.
Tostenson called on Treasurer Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker to present the Treasurer’s Report.
Atyeo-Gortmaker reviewed the 2018 Operating Statement, Balance Sheet, Auditor’s letter, Statistical Report, History of Capital Credits Paid, and list of Taxes paid in 2018. Her report showed that 2018 revenues were $10,719,710 and operating expenses at $10,333,087. Total operating margins were $386,623. The cooperative’s balance sheet showed assets of $33,741,747, liabilities of $22,062,770 and equity of $11,678,977. Members were informed that capital credits in the amount of $202,270 would be credited to members in May. A motion from the floor to approve the Treasurer’s Report was seconded and carried.
Tostenson introduced Tom Boyko, General Manager of East River Electric Power Cooperative to present the East River report.
Boyko provided a brief history of East River Electric as a power supply cooperative. He reported that East River is beginning an accelerated system replacement plan to update aging infrastructure, improve reliability and accommodate for new load growth.
In his presentation, Tom reported that Western Area Power Administration is building a new high voltage transmission substation north of Sisseton and will be named the Roberts County Substation. The new substation, scheduled to be completed late in 2019 will provide an additional source of power into this area. Over the next few years East River plans to construct two new transmission lines that will tie into their existing transmission system and upgrade existing infrastructure in the Whetstone and surrounding territories.
Boyko discussed the continued efforts of East River to provide safety education for the public working near power lines. He noted the trend of larger agriculture equipment being used and the increased potential of contact with overhead power lines. East River developed and released a farm safety marketing campaign with the goal to remind farmers to remain aware of electrical equipment when working on the farm.
Tom talked about East River’s initiatives to address and prevent cyber security threats for their members. Their IT and Cyber Security Program began in 2018 and provides 24/7 services to protect critical infrastructure for Whetstone and other East River members.
Tostenson invited Mark Hofer, the South Dakota Director for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to address the members.
Mr. Hofer provided a brief history and talked about the functions of NRECA, the national service organization that advocates for America's electric cooperatives. He reported on current activities of the national organization and discussed government relations activities and legislative issues that NRECA is currently addressing with federal lawmakers and agencies.
Mark also reported and initiatives of NRECA entitled “Commitment to Zero Contacts” to promote a culture of safety among electric cooperatives and their employees.
Mr. Hofer concluded by talking about the association’s ability to provide economic and technical research regarding grid security and emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and charging stations.
Tostenson called on Whetstone Valley General Manager, Dave Page for his report.
General Manager, Page welcomed the members to the Annual Meeting of the Cooperative and began by thanking the presenters from East River and NRECA. He also thanked the employees for their year-round dedication.
In his report on 2018 activities, Page noted that 32 new services were added and 92 unused services were removed. He reported that 26 miles of power-line had been replaced. Most of this was the conversion of overhead to underground line.
Page reported that Whetstone experienced an all-time peak demand in January of 2018 and record energy sales for the year totaling over 100 million kilowatt-hours. He noted that the cooperative has seen an average growth rate in energy sales of about two percent annually.
In his report Page stated that there were no plans to raise retail rates in 2019 due to deferred revenue from exceptionally strong sales in 2018 along with capital credit retirements from Basin Electric. He projected wholesale power costs would remain stable through 2019 and that rate adjustments in the future will likely be needed to meet the rising costs of infrastructure replacements and upgrades.
Page discussed the portfolio of generation resources provided to Whetstone by East River Electric. He reported that about 18 percent is generated by hydroelectric dams by Western Area Power Administration and that Basin Electric Power Cooperative provides the remaining energy using coal, wind, and other generation resources.
Page discussed the damage and outages caused by the ice storm that occurred on March 14, 2019. He reported that ice, snow and wind caused eight broken poles and one wire break. He also talked about some of the damage to the East River and WAPA transmission systems.
Page noted that Western Area Power Administration has started construction on the Roberts County substation, near Sisseton and the additional source of electricity it will provide for the region. He stated that the substation is scheduled to be completed later this year.
Page discussed the 2019 – 2022 Construction Work Plan that was recently finalized and submitted to the USDA Rural Utilities Service for approval. The work plan calls for the replacement of 25 miles of line each year at a total cost of about 1.6 million dollars annually.
Page concluded by discussing strategic financial initiatives and system reliability goals. He thanked the Board of Directors for their engagement in the business of cooperative and employees for their dedication to the members.
Tostenson called on the Cooperative’s attorney, Harvey Oliver, to announce the results of the election of directors.
Mr. Oliver thanked all of the candidates that ran for office noting the importance of member participation in the cooperative business. He commented on efficiencies of the new voting method, stating that it likely shortened the meeting by 20 to 30 minutes.
Mr. Oliver reported that the elected Director for district 1 was David Behrns and the elected Director for District 7 was Joel Adler.
Only one candidate for districts 8 and 9 were submitted; Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker and Paul Nelson respectively. Since no other members were nominated for these districts so the candidates were duly elected.
General Manager, Page introduced all of the employees and presented four employees with service awards. Steph Trevett, Billing Clerk for 15 years of service; Audra Johnson, Accounting Clerk for 15 years of service; Chad Pollock, Electrician for 10 years of service and Marie Loutsch for 5 years of service.
Page announced that Jenna Johnson & Korbin Leddy were chosen to participate in the 2019 Cooperative Youth Excursion to the Basin Electric facilities near Bismarck, North Dakota. Makenna Osowski was chosen as the representative for the National Rural Electric Youth Rally in Washington, DC. Antonia Block was congratulated as the 2019 winner of the Basin Electric/Whetstone Valley Electric $1,000 Scholarship for a member dependent.
Tostenson called for any unfinished or new business from the floor. With no further business, and a motion and second from the floor, President Tostenson adjourned the meeting.
There was a drawing for numerous door prizes with Scott Bassett of Wilmot winning the grand prize of $500.