A record 792 members and guests gathered for the 2019 Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative annual membership meeting on Oct. 10, nearly filling the Canton Civic Center.
Three incumbents running were re-elected to the co-op board of directors. A total of 2,945 valid ballots were received, with the following results:
Jerry Priest, 1,851; Gerald Don Becker, 921, write-ins, 6.
Howard Tillison 1,756; Kelli Krieg, 908.
David Lang, 1,554; Jean Riggs, 813; Robert L. Bass, 296, write-Ins, 1.
Additionally, 126 invalid ballots were received. Reasons ballots were invalid included duplicate ballots, missing names or addresses, no signature, ballots marked for all candidates, and completely blank ballots.
Becker, Krieg and Riggs are members of TVEC: One Voice for Choice, a group that has questioned the fairness of the co-op’s elections, along with calling for the board to have evening meetings and lower rates for members.
“We were happy for the 900 votes,” said Riggs, referring to District 2 and District 6 races, noting this election signified one of the few times challengers have tried to campaign for board seats. “We felt like it was a good first effort, and we’re looking forward to next year.”
She and other board watchdogs said some members did not receive the ballots in the Texas Co-op magazines in time to get their ballots mailed in by the Oct. 8 deadline, or they didn’t receive them at all.
This year had a high number of ballots received. According to a TVEC spokesman, past years have ranged from 1,991 total votes to 2,097 votes.
According to the co-op’s website, at the start of the meeting, Jeff Lane, the TVEC general manager and CEO, discussed the wholesale power market and how TVEC manages wholesale power costs.
“Seventy percent of our costs are tied up in the purchase of wholesale power,” Lane said. “Prices fluctuate based on many factors including demand on the grid, transmission system congestion, generation availability, the amount of wind blowing, the price of gas and coal, and a number of other variables.”
He said balancing power contracts through wholesale power provider Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative has resulted in reduction in power costs over the last few years, a change that can be seen in members’ bills through the Power Cost Recovery Factor.
“The PCRF is basically the tool we use to manage with the changes in wholesale power costs,” Lane said. “In the last 22-month period, January 2018-October 2019, we have had no positive (added) PCRF, and we have had a negative PCRF 12 times, which effectively reduces your rate. Hopefully you see this trend in the wholesale power cost and if you watch that PCRF line item on your bill, you can see when power costs are up or down for us.”
Lane said the trend for lower wholesale power costs seem to be holding, with the expectation that TVEC will be able to continue lowering the rate through the PCRF in the future.
Tony Watson, the assistant general manager and COO, was next to address the crowd, giving an overview of the co-op’s safety and operations programs, as well as efforts to increase reliability and plan for future growth.
“Society is becoming increasingly dependent on highly reliable electric service, so it is imperative that we strive to provide you with the most reliable service possible,” Watson said. “Mother Nature can throw us some curves, with storms, lightning, ice and tornadoes being a few of the challenges we face.”
Watson noted that TVEC is on a six-year rotation for right-of-way clearing, at a cost of about $4.5 million. Trees are one of the leading causes of outages, so right-of-way clearing is an important part of electrical reliability efforts.
Trey Rowe of auditing firm Bollinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss provided attendees a report on the co-op’s annual audit.
“We found the books and records to be in good order,” Rowe said, “The cooperative appears to be in good financial condition and no findings to report as a result of the audit.”
The income statement for 2018 reported $159 million in operating revenue and $14.6 million in comprehensive income. On the balance sheet, total assets for the co-op, along with total liabilities and equities, were listed at $344 million.
The co-op had 71,030 meters and maintained 7,723 total miles of line in 2018.
Information about the 2020 meeting will be in Texas Co-op Power Magazine and on TVEC’s social media channels as the year progresses. Members also had the opportunity before the meeting to learn about TVEC efficiency programs, technology solutions and community outreach efforts.