Will McIntee, Deputy District Director of Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley’s Cedar Rapids office, tours the ECI REC Urbana headquarters with CEO Steve Marlow.
|McIntee takes a ride in a bucket truck.|
Will McIntee, deputy district director of Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley’s Cedar Rapids office, paid a visit to ECI REC on September 26. ECI REC is the third Iowa electric cooperative McIntee has visited in an effort to better understand the issues that are important to Iowa’s cooperative member-consumers.
Bruce Braley has been the U.S. representative for Iowa's 1st congressional district since 2007. A member of the Democratic Party, his district lies in northeastern Iowa and includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Marshalltown, and Dubuque. Congressman Braley grew up on REC lines, and understands the value of the non-profit cooperative business model, including the importance of being democratically controlled by our members.
Upon McIntee’s arrival at ECI REC’s Urbana headquarters, CEO Steve Marlow expressed the Cooperative’s appreciation for Congressman Braley’s work and recent support in our nation’s capital regarding the engagement with FEMA regarding their recent policy change on storm recovery. Marlow also provided McIntee with ECI REC’s annual reliability report, which is filed with the Iowa Utilities Board.
Marlow went on to express the importance of ECI REC’s grassroots campaign. “We want to build good relationships with our legislators, as well as provide them with useful factual resources to help them make decisions regarding legislation, even when it may not directly benefit the Cooperative,” said Marlow. “We keep a close eye on legislative and environmental issues that may affect our members. We are advocates for them, and strive to keep the rates as low and as fair as possible.”
Marlow went on to say that dedicated efforts in economic development and job creation are important to ECI REC as well. ECI REC serves industrial parks in Independence, Vinton, and the BECCA industrial park in Urbana where Cooperative headquarters is located. ECI REC employs 34 people, a number of which live on Cooperative lines. In addition to the Urbana headquarters we have operation centers located in Vinton and Independence.
During his visit, McIntee learned that ECI REC is the product of the merger of Benton County Electric Association and Buchanan County REC and serves 8,627 accounts across 2,267 miles of distribution line throughout 11 counties, including Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Fayette, Linn, Tama, Johnson, and Iowa. McIntee pointed out that ECI REC’s service area is a core portion of Congressman Braley’s congressional district.
Following this, Marlow took McIntee on a tour around the Urbana headquarters, introducing him to the employees and explaining the new automated technology that has been recently introduced to better serve Cooperative members.
Though McIntee initially said he had 45 minutes to spend at the Cooperative, when CEO Steve Marlow offered him a ride in a bucket truck, he couldn’t refuse. Though McIntee typically doesn’t enjoy heights, he knew that going up in a utility bucket would be something Congressman Braley wouldn’t have missed. Operations Manager Gary Marlow and CEO Steve Marlow took McIntee to visit a line crew that was installing a new service at a cabin area along the Cedar River, just south of the administrative office.
Once on site, Will shook hands with Line Foreman Kevin Walton and Third Class Lineman Dane Peterson. Following the linemen’s required tailgate procedures, Foreman Walton help McIntee get in the harness for the bucket and up he went, snapping a few aerial shots with his cell phone.
ECI REC appreciates the opportunity to share our Cooperative with Deputy District Director McIntee. We were glad to help expand his understanding of the issues facing member-consumers and Iowa’s electric cooperativesâ€•and we hope he enjoyed the bucket ride.
For more photos from the day, visit our Facebook page.