News & Press
Tri-County EMC’s 80th Annual Meeting was held Thursday, October 17 at the cooperative’s headquarters in Gray. Cooperative members, employees and a number of local and state officials gathered for the co-op’s annual business meeting. Through voting by mail, online and in person, 1,601 cooperative members participated in their cooperative’s annual election process. At the meeting, it was annouced that the membership re-elected Post 3 incumbent directors Cecil Patterson (District 1: Jones, Bibb and Twiggs County), Mike Rainey (District 2: Putnam, Jasper and Morgan County), and Marion Nelson (District 3: Baldwin and Wilkinson County).
Additionally, four proposed bylaw amendments were passed. The first three bylaw changes are part of our efforts to keep our governance and our election process transparent and accessible. The fourth is an effort to align our bylaws with modern technology. A full list of these changes can be found at www.tri-countyemc.com/election.cms.
Brenda P. Green, chairman of the Tri-County EMC Board of Directors, gave a report of the audit showing the cooperative is in good financial standing. She also spoke on the board’s governance and transparency. “The bylaw changes are a continuation of the board’s effort to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Green. “This is our members’ cooperative, and we want our members to be able to play an active role.”
Greg Mullis, senior vice president of corporate services, spoke of the cooperative’s role in the community. Through Operation Roundup Community Grants, Bright Ideas Teachers Grants and youth scholarships, the cooperative invests more than $100,000 in the communities it serves. Mullis also spoke of the Taco Town Hall event in which members were invited to come eat a taco and ask any questions they had pertaining to the cooperative. The first Taco Town Hall was held in August in Milledgeville. Additional events will be scheduled in 2020.
During his address, CEO Ray Grinberg spoke about rates, power supply and power costs. “We’ve managed to keep our rates the same since 2014, thanks to adding low cost power generation like natural gas to our portfolio.” Power costs make up the 58% of the utility’s costs. Members will likely see an increase on power costs, with the completion of Plant Vogtle Units 3&4 in the next few years.
Grinberg also touched on member satisfaction. “Our ongoing surveying shows that we rank at a 88.7% in member satisfaction — a B+,” said Grinberg. Most utilities measure up with satisfaction rates in the 70s, but cooperatives like Tri-County consistently score higher. “A B+ is a strong score, but we are constantly striving to do better. We want our members to be happy. And we want our members to do business the way they want to do business.” Tri-County EMC offers multiple options to handle business via phone, the cooperative’s website or in person at either office location.
This fall, Tri-County EMC lobbies will be undergoing renovations to become more ADA accessible and to increase the security of the buildings. Construction will begin in November and should be complete before the year end.
Broadband continues to be a topic of conversation among EMCs. Some EMCs are already in the business, some are interested in providing the service, but most are in the research phase to determine their role. Tri-County EMC is in the process of performing feasibility studies in the service area as well as surveying our members to determine the cooperative’s place in the broadband industry.
Grinberg also requested our members help in urging elected officials to pass the RURAL Act to get a tax law changed. Most electric cooperatives are tax-exempt organizations under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(12). In order to maintain tax exempt status, an electric cooperative must receive at least 85 percent of all income from its members. Changes to the federal tax law in 2017 jeopardize the tax-exempt status of electric cooperatives that receive any kind of federal or state government funding. This includes grants for disaster relief. “Being tax-exempt from federal income taxes helps us keep our rates low and receive FEMA funding following natural disasters, like Hurricane Irma in 2017,” said Grinberg. “I challenge you to send a letter to your elected officials to encourage a change at www.vote.coop.”
At the end of the meeting, the 2020 Nominating Committee was named and can be found here.
Click here to see a video recap of the meeting.