2012-04-19 / Local & State

Valley Rural Electric Co-op Meeting Draws About 900 Consumers

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

About 900 consumers attended the 2012 Valley Rural Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting, held 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, at Huntingdon Area High School.

The meeting focused on the co-op’s legacy of innovation and investment in local communities, and included the election of three directors to the board.

“Innovation is helping us keep electric bills affordable, despite our lagging energy sales and sparse consumer density,” co-op President and CEO Wayne Miller said during the meeting. “For example, deploying a more advanced distribution system infrastructure – which includes automated meters – allows us to better pinpoint outages and restore power more quickly. This investment is helping us cut operating costs and improve service reliability. ”

“We’ve also recently developed a technology work plan that will provide us with a five-year roadmap to efficiently integrate new technologies into our system operations. As part of the work plan, this year we will be deploying a robust outage management system that will integrate our computerized mapping, automated metering infrastructure and an interactive-voiceresponse communications system. Incorporating these technologies in the outage management system will provide our operating personnel with faster and better information to analyze and respond to power outages on the electric distribution system more efficiently.

“Our innovative energy efficiency programs are helping to keep your electric bills down, too,” he added. “Our voluntary demand response program, which is used to turn off electric water heaters and home heating and cooling systems during periods of peak demand, helps us control electric rates because it trims costly demand charges and reduces our need for new generating capacity.”

Miller also updated coop members about results received from a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

“Our members rated us, on average, with a score of at least 9 out of 10 in every category. In fact, our overall score of 91 placed us in the top percentile in the nation for customer service. The most recent average score for private power companies is 74,” Miller said.

“Despite our favorable score, we are going to try even harder to meet and hopefully exceed your expectations,” he concluded.

Board Chairman James Stauffer followed Miller’s speech with comments about the designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives and the impact co-ops make in our communities.

“ ... the bulk of our income continues to go toward maintaining and upgrading our electric distribution system,” Stauffer added. “Because we put consumers first, our rates are set to cover the cost of doing business, not to generate profits for distant stockholders. In fact, you get the credit when our revenues exceed costs. I’m proud to report that, in 2011, we returned more than $950,000 in patronage capital to eligible members and former members of the co-op. Nearly $19 million has been given back over the years, and we plan to continue that course into the foreseeable future.”

Following Miller’s and Stauffer’s remarks, the 514 voting members in attendance at the meeting elected three directors to represent the utility’s nearly 21,000 consumers.

Chosen to serve on the co-op’s board of directors for a three-year term were:

District 2 – James Stauffer of Oliver Township, Mifflin County;

District 4 – Corey Brumbaugh of Shirley Township, Huntingdon County; and

District 6 – Leroy Barnes of Greenfield Township, Blair County.

Louis Mamakos of Cromwell Township, Huntingdon County, ran against Brumbaugh. The other two candidates ran unopposed on the ballot.

Distinguished guests in attendance included state Reps. Mike Fleck and Jerry Stern; Huntingdon County legislative aide to state Sen. John Eichelberger, Gerry Wityk; Huntingdon County commissioners R. Dean Fluke and Jeff Thomas; National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. Regional Vice President James Meiers; Penn Lines magazine senior editor/writer Kathy Hackleman; and Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association public affairs/ member services specialist Stephanie Okuniewski.

Nearly 20 children attended the event. They enjoyed a big-screen viewing of “Puss in Boots,” refreshments, balloons and a presentation by Huntingdon County Dairy Princess Samantha Bliss of Huntingdon.

Members in attendance received a $15 credit on their electric bills and a three-outlet adapter.

In addition, meeting attendees who brought with them spent compact fluorescent light bulbs had cooperative staff properly dispose of them. Plus, each family that brought a bulb received a free replacement.

Valley Rural Electric is a member-owned cooperative providing electric service to consumers in eight counties of south-central Pennsylvania, including Bedford, Blair, Centre, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Mifflin.

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