EnergyLines May 2017

2017 Hoosier Energy Annual Meeting

Power network thriving amid change

Steve Smith, President and CEO of Hoosier Energy, began his remarks at the G&T’s 2017 annual meeting scanning the crowd and smiling at many familiar and some not-so-familiar faces.

 

The past year, he said, proved to be another good year for Hoosier Energy and its 18-member distribution systems.

 

“We are coming off a good year with a new and improved labor contract, more flexible and cost saving coal contracts, wholesale rates that dropped 2½ percent, development of several new cost management initiatives, additional member services and achieving our long standing 20 percent equity goal, all positioning us well for the future,” Smith told the crowd of nearly 300 power network executives and guests at the April 13 meeting in French Lick, Indiana.

 

Smith then turned his focus to the theme of change and its inevitability using a video of four past chairmen to highlight his points.

 

Eugene Roberts, long-time director from Orange County REMC and chairman of the Hoosier Energy Board from 2008-2010, noted in the video that the cooperative leaders have never been satisfied with waiting for the next big thing to happen.

 

“There is no way that we can just sit still and say ‘oh well we’ve got our power plant, we’ve got our portfolio now with solar, wind and so forth, we’re in good shape. We are in good shape, but we can’t rest on that. We just can’t,’ ” Roberts said in the video.

 

Uncertainties can be faced with trepidation or optimism, Smith said, but never inertia. “Electric cooperatives and Hoosier Energy have a history of not sitting around and waiting for things to happen. Whether it was the initiative of our founders to establish the first wholesale power cooperative in the state or our recent decision to bid on MISO’s first-ever competitive transmission project, we will always look for opportunities to execute on our mission of providing you with assured, reliable and competitively priced energy and services in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner.

 

Hoosier Energy Board Chairman Herb Haggard from Johnson County REMC noted that the cooperative difference sets Hoosier Energy and member systems apart from other utilities. He said he accompanied Hoosier Energy executives on their annual trip to Wall Street that underscored to investors the importance of the cooperative difference. “Hoosier did an excellent job. We got to tell our story. The reason to do that was to secure solid ‘A’ ratings. And we did.”

 

While co-ops cannot compete with investor-owned utilities dollar for dollar, they have a bigger, and better advantage, he said. The difference begins with the deeply rooted co-op value placed on the customer experience, he said. That difference helps co-ops succeed throughout the inevitability of change.

 

“We’ve got to remember where our roots are – why we are here. … We are a cooperative and everybody on our line is an owner.”

 

In addition to remarks by Smith and Haggard, the business session included election of directors, a year-in-review video highlighting 2016 operational and financial results and the presentation of service awards.

 

Ten exhibits showcased continuous improvement and innovation in member services. As attendees strolled past the booths, they talked with Hoosier Energy employees about the latest advances in environmental education, economic development, MV-Web (a load analysis tool), operations and power delivery, employee training, renewables, communications, demand side management initiatives and safety and training.

 

The power delivery booth drew widespread attention with an interactive board that lit up when someone guessed the correct cause of a power outage in a particular service area.

 

GOOD TIMES: Senior Billing Analyst at Hoosier Energy Holly Nethery shares a laugh with President and CEO at Whitewater Valley REMC Mary Jo Thomas at the annual meeting.

 

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