RIO GRANDE — With 865 people in attendance, including 527 consumer-members, Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (BREC) held its 81st annual member meeting at the University of Rio Grande Lyne Center on Aug. 10.
The cooperative also announced recipients of its 2019 scholarship outreach program: Luke Humphreys ($1500) of Ironton High School will attend Ohio University to study mechanical engineering. As the first-place winner, Humphreys also competed and was awarded $1550 from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives’ scholarship competition. McKenna Pannell ($1200) of Fairland High School will attend Shawnee State University to study occupational therapy. Tyler Shelton ($800) of Ironton High School will attend Eastern Kentucky University to study public relations. Nicholas Davis ($1500) of Wellston High School, recipient of BREC’s technical scholarship, will attend Hocking College (Charleston, WV) to study construction management. Ian Roush of Oak Hill High School, recipient of a $1000 technical scholarship from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, will attend Ohio State Agricultural Technical Center in Wooster to study turfgrass management and horticultural science.
BREC also recognized Thaxton Salyers of Symmes Valley High School, who represented the co-op on the 2019 youth tour to Washington, DC.
Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative Board Chair Paul Berridge announced that the organization returned more than $2 million in excess revenue to its consumer-members in 2018. Executive Vice President and General Manager Tonda Meadows explained that, also in 2018, the co-op continued its refinancing of $34.6 million of long-term debt, which will save BREC consumer-members approximately $500,000 annually, and more than $5 million over the loan term.
Meadows further cited that BREC continues to rebuild weakened and heavily loaded transmission lines; added protective devices to improve service reliability; and installed equipment that allows for the re-routing of service to alternate lines during maintenance or outages. Meadows also noted the cooperative’s deployment of a two-way automatic communication system (TWACS) for member meters, which provides monthly kilowatt use, load and outage information. Meadows also shared that in addition to an already aggressive right-of-way foliage-clearing program, approximately 1700 “danger” trees, representing potential outages, were removed from outside of normal clearing areas.
Bill Roberts, CFO of Columbus-based Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, stated that in 2018, Ohio electric cooperatives comprehensively returned $34 million in excess revenue to member-consumers, and that, also across the statewide cooperative network, customer satisfaction scores were nine points higher than the national average of for-profit and municipal utilities. Roberts further noted that the Cardinal Power Plant, which generates power for all Ohio electric cooperatives, reached a safety milestone in 2018 by achieving 2 million hours without a lost-time injury, while also reaching 1.5 million hours without an injury that required a day away from work or restricted duties. Finally, Roberts remarked that last year, Ohio electric cooperative linemen ventured twice in one month to North Carolina to help restore power in the aftermath of hurricanes.
Two issues regarding updates to the Code of Regulations, voted on by members present, were passed in favor of the changes.
Established in 1938 to bring electric power to rural populations via the Rural Electrification Administration, now known as the Rural Utilities Service, Rio Grande-based Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (www.buckeyerec.com) provides energy to more than 18,000 homes and businesses in Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties.