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Co-op Holds 78th Annual Meeting

Members of Tri-County EMC, employees and local and state dignitaries gathered on October 19 for the 78th annual meeting of Tri-County EMC at the headquarters in Gray, GA. Billy Jerles, the cooperative’s General Counsel, announced election results for the board of directors. The re-elected board members for Post 1 are Dan Greene (District 1), Brenda P. Green (District 2) and Sammy Hall (District 3). These members will serve three-year terms. 1,701 members participated in this year’s election process via mail, online voting or casting a ballot in person. 

The cooperative’s board chairman, Brenda P. Green, reported that Tri-County EMC is in excellent financial condition according to a recent audit. In addition, Tri-County EMC’s rates remain competitive when compared to our EMC peers and Georgia Power. According to the summer 2017 Public Service Commission Rate Survey, Tri-County EMC has the 10th lowest rates of Georgia’s EMCs at the 2,000 kWh level. The cooperative ranks 11th lowest at 1,500 kWhs and 12th lowest at 1,000 kWhs. 

The cooperative is constantly looking for ways to better serve members. “In order for us to continue to improve, we survey our members each quarter to get feedback and determine which areas to focus on,” said Green. Survey respondents rated Tri-County at a 9.02 out of 10 in overall satisfaction. This compares to an 8.89 rating for the average cooperative. “These surveys will be ongoing and used in strategic planning each year.”

In addition to requesting feedback from members, Tri-County is also researching new technologies to improve service. This year, the cooperative completed a Technology Plan Review. “We assessed the informational and operational technology that we utilize,” said Green. “We are well-positioned in regard to technology platforms, putting us ahead of our average peer utilities.” 

A combination of unclaimed capital credits and Operation Roundup funds help the cooperative invest in the community. In the past year, Tri-County awarded $30,000 to teachers through Bright Ideas Grants and $10,000 in scholarships to students. Harris Lancaster, immediate past chair of the Tri-County EMC Foundation Board, spoke about the impact Operation Roundup makes on the community. “When members round their bill to the next dollar, that small amount makes a tremendous difference in our community,” said Lancaster. Since 2001, members have contributed $1.23 million dollars to Operation Roundup. 

“Through this program, wheelchair ramps have been constructed, food has been purchased for those in need and medical needs have been met. Thank you for making this possible. It’s the money that you give that gives us this opportunity to serve the community.” 

Green also addressed the most recent storm to affect Tri-County. “Tropical Storm Irma was the most damaging and costly storm in the history of Tri-County EMC,” said Green. “Despite considerable widespread damage and challenging circumstances, our employees worked day and night until power was restored to every member. And the outpouring of community support shown to our cooperative through donations of food, flowers and kind messages exemplified the cooperative spirit.”

“The number we are most proud of from Irma is zero,” Ray Grinberg, CEO, added. “We had zero lost time accidents during the 4,600 hours worked that week.” Tri-County EMC’s estimated cost of Irma was about $1.5 million. Because a State of Emergency was declared, the cooperative is eligible for reimbursement for storm expenses through FEMA and other entities.

Grinberg emphasized the cooperative’s promise to its members – to be a financially stable company, to deliver reliable power and provide high quality member service. “My job is to help manage the controllable expenses,” said Grinberg. “The first thing our team thinks about is how we can manage our member’s energy dollar most wisely and do the best for our company. We’re very conservative in the dollars per consumer we spend.” While the cost of power, interest and depreciation have steadily increased, the operating costs of the co-op – the controllable costs –  and margins have remained relatively flat. An increase in the charge per kWh, which hasn’t happened since 2009, is expected in 2018. 

A diverse fuel mix is important to deliver reliable power. At the end of August, the co-owners of Plant Vogtle jointly decided and recommended the completion of the construction of Units 3 and 4, which will come on line in 2021 and 2022, respectively. “Right now, all power companies are benefitting from the low cost of natural gas,” said Grinberg. “But, as prices change in the future, diversity in our fuel mix is important.” Costs of Vogtle will be reflected in rates as they come online. These units will produce nuclear power for the next 60-80 years.

Tri-County is also making advances with reliability. “You want your power on all the time. We want to make sure your power is on all the time,” said Grinberg. “We’re working hard on right-of-way maintenance and overall system improvements.” Tri-County is looking at ways to backfeed lines so that, in the case of an outage, power can be rerouted to serve members. The cooperative is also working on system automation to reduce outage times.  

In addition to improvements on the power lines, Tri-County is constantly evaluating emerging technology to make it easier for our members to do business with us. “We’re here to provide quality service to you. We want you to be able to do business with us the way you want to do business with us.” While Tri-County’s office will always be available to serve members, the cooperative is also working to give options to members to do an increasing amount of cooperative business online.


Nominating Committee Elected:
During the 78th Annual Meeting, eight members were elected to serve on the Tri-County EMC Nominating Committee. The purpose of the committee is to nominate candidates for the 2018 board of directors elections. For 2018, the committee will nominate the director candidates to fill Post 2 of Districts 1, 2 and 3.  

District 1:
Thomas Comer
Tracy Gattie
Norma Hancock
District 2:
Raleigh Hicks
Ken Farr
District 3: 
Jack Brock
Bruce Dempster
Charles McCuen, Jr. 

Annual Meeting Ballot Drawing Winners:
Grand Prize Winner: 
Cynthia Tucker, Putnam County
$50 Bill Credit Winners:
Raymond Dumas, Jones County
Sherrie Woodard, Putnam County
Jerome Collins, Jones County
Roger Walker, Wilkinson County
Aretta Louise Yarbrough, Putnam County
Wayne Thames, Putnam County
Amey Montgomery, Putnam County
Kathleen Trifon, Putnam County
David E. Turner, Jones County
Mary McDonald, Putnam County