BUILDING BEYOND THE LINES
by CEO Steve Marlow and Board President Steve Rau
In 2018, East-Central Iowa REC continued to navigate our Cooperative through a time of change in the energy industry. With an eye on the future, we worked to build on current and new technologies, going beyond lines and poles to improve quality of life for our membership and the communities we serve.
Our mission is to demonstrate the advantage of the cooperative business model. Not only do we keep the seven cooperative principles at the forefront—we find innovative ways to deliver safe, affordable, and reliable electricity in an environmentally friendly manner. Our dedicated team provides value-added service and strives each day to implement sustainable solutions that are in the best interests of the Cooperative, our membership, and our communities. Here are some highlights from our last fiscal year:
KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON
- In 2018, we completed our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) initiative. With assistance from Chapman Metering, 10,734 AMI meters were installed on 8,811 member-accounts, including HeatPlus accounts.
- As part of the Construction Work Plan, 80 miles of overhead and underground line were replaced. In the Fairbank and Garrison substation areas, crews inspected 4,328 poles. As of year-end, 18 of ECI REC’s 25 substations have been upgraded with higher voltage capacity and/or with electronic reclosers.
- 2018 tallied the second fewest outage minutes per member in the history of ECI REC, coming in at an average of 52 minutes/member-account for the entire year.
LOOKING OUT FOR YOU
- In 2018, ECI REC staff and Board members were actively engaged in legislative events across the state. We carried messages to lawmakers supporting investment in renewable energy, workforce readiness in technical trades, safety and reliability, and vegetation management.
- We are excited about two major legislative successes:
- Federal geothermal tax credits were reinstated retroactively through 2021.
- The Iowa Energy Omnibus Bill provides regulatory parity and clarity; ensures members’ dollars are invested in only worthwhile energy efficiency; and eliminates duplicative reporting to the Iowa Utilities Board.
THE COOPERATIVE DIFFERENCE
- Members approved a plan to decrease the number of Cooperative Directors from 10 to 8. The service territory no longer has a southern and northern district. It is treated as one entity.
- At its May Board meeting, the ECI REC Board of Directors approved the retirement of $616,993—100% of 2003, 9.76% of 2015, and 5.49% of 2016 margins. In the past 10 years, ECI REC has returned $5,427,553 to its members.
- Board Directors Jim Alberts, Jeff Elliott, Steve Rau, and Don Shonka renewed their Director Gold Certificate. Director Chris Sackett earned his Board Leadership Program Certificate.
- Kilowatt-hour sales for 2018 were 4.3% greater than budgeted and 4.6% greater than sales in 2017.
- CIPCO’s Heartland Divide Wind project—a 104 MW wind farm located in Audubon, Iowa—came online in December.
- CIPCO and its member systems, including ECI REC, issued over $2.7 million in energy-efficiency rebates that saved approximately 28.6 million kWh of energy. That includes 1,757,616 kWh savings for our members.
- In 2018, 1.38% of our revenue was invested in energy-efficiency programs.
- In August, ECI REC members Ryan and Kaidy Rasmussen hosted over 100 guests at their all-electric, energy-efficient home south of Independence.
- In 2018, 86 ECI REC members contributed an average of $3.93/month each to support production of renewable energy in Iowa. Member support for the year totaled $4,163.50.
- ECI REC partnered with nine other electric cooperatives to form a for-profit company, Iowa Choice Renewables. ICR offers turnkey solar systems that can be sized, purchased, installed, and connected to the power grid.
- ECI REC awarded $1,000 scholarships to ten graduating seniors. Juniors Sarah Collison and Brock Ortner represented ECI REC’s service territory at the 2018 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C.
- In 2018, ECI REC staff spoke at the annual Career Fair Day at East Buchanan High School in Winthrop and the Career Day held at Independence West Elementary School, highlighting working in the electric industry.
- From July 2017 to June 2018, 67 members contributed $4,985 to our RECare program.
- In 2018, ECI REC gave more than $35,000 to 21 community organizations.
- Representatives from Iowa’s electric cooperatives, including ECI REC, joined Governor Reynolds for the signing of a proclamation declaring August 10 Move Over Iowa Day to help raise awareness about Iowa’s Move Over or Slow Down law. The law requires drivers to slow down for vehicles on the side of the road with flashing lights, including utility vehicles.
- In 2018, ECI REC earned the NRECA Safety Certificate.