Valley News -

By Diane Sieker
Writer 

Anza Electric Cooperative annual meeting shares news and information with members

 

Last updated 8/2/2018 at 2:26pm

Diane Sieker

ConnectAnza technicians explain the service to members at the 2018 Anza Electric Cooperative annual membership meeting Saturday, July 21.

The 2018 annual meeting of the membership of the Anza Electric Cooperative was held at the Hamilton High School gym Saturday, July 21. It was an informative presentation, with news, education and updates.

Beginning 7:30 a.m., the Thimble Club served a breakfast to members as The Len-Tones band entertained with popular jazz, country, rock and blues tunes.

AEC President Bill Adams called the meeting to order, 9 a.m., with the announcement that a quorum was present.

Anza Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1873 presented the colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem and an invocation given by the Rev. Pat Nevills of Anza Valley Baptist Church.

Adams introduced the board of directors, guests and director candidates.

Running for District I were Harold Burdick and Ryall Stewart. 

District II candidates were Bill Adams and Claudia Haeckel.

For District III, Stephen P. Silkotch Sr. ran unchallenged. 

Ballot counting began as the meeting got underway.

AEC Secretary Michael Machado read the notice of the meeting and proof of mailing. He called for a motion to approve the 2017 annual membership meeting minutes as mailed.

Adams gave the president's report in which he thanked his fellow directors and General Manager Kevin Short. He commented on the ConnectAnza high-speed internet project.

"I think we've had a tremendous year and done a lot of work, and I hope we can keep up the good work and provide service to everyone," he said. "So be patient, and we'll get to you."

Adams introduced Audit Manager Jarrod Bryant, from Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss, who gave the auditor's report on the financial condition of the AEC. 

"We've had the pleasure of being your auditors for a number of years now and always enjoyed the opportunity to work with your cooperative staff," he said. "The AEC has received a 'clean' or 'unmodified audit opinion,' which is the best opinion you can get."

The AEC's equity-to-assets ratio is about 50 percent, which is indicative of good financial health.

"For every dollar that the cooperative has made throughout the years, they roughly returned 50 percent on the dollar back to you, the membership, which I think is a very impressive metric," Bryant said.

AEC Treasurer Harold Burdick called for a motion to approve the treasurer's report.

Adams introduced Patrick Ledger, executive vice president and CEO of Arizona's Generation and Transmission Cooperatives. Ledger gave the Arizona G&T report.

"Some of the regulatory challenges we've had in the past... I won't say they've gone away, but right now we're managing them pretty well. We have developed some solar power," he said. "One of which is right here in Anza. We assisted with developing the 2 megawatt system, and we're continuing to work on another phase."

He also discussed the viability of coal as a fuel, explaining that it is the cheapest form of fuel and helps to keep costs down.

Ledger mentioned cost trends and how careful shopping on the market helps keep rates down.

John Wallace, CEO of Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association, gave the GCSECA report. 

Wallace described the purpose of the association – to provide government relations services and other services to the cooperatives in Arizona.

"And why that's important to you as Anza members is because as you just heard, the power's bought in Arizona to serve you," he explained. "So all the cooperatives in Arizona are heavily regulated and they're not only regulated by the federal government, but they're also regulated by the state government and in particular the Corporation Commission."

One of the accomplishments of the GCSECA was to streamline certain rules, which in turn saves the cooperative members money in terms of the regulatory process. They have also passed a bill in Arizona involving unclaimed capital credits. Cooperatives wanted to be able to keep the unclaimed monies in the the communities from which they came. The Department of Revenue wanted the money, but the bill was crafted and passed. These monies can continue to be used for education, scholarships and other community projects. 

Finally, the GCSECA is also going to bat for the cooperatives to fight unreasonable legislation in respect to unrealistic emissions standards proposed by an out-of-state environmental group.

Next to speak was Jessica Nelson, general manager of the Golden State Power Cooperative. She talked about mission statements and their relevance to the true meaning of cooperatives.

Nelson said, "We are your trade association for electric cooperatives in California and we represent you and your interests in California."

They provide cost-saving services such as legislative and regulatory lobbying.

"You may not know this, but your cooperative is viewed as a national leader – from your investment in solar energy to electric vehicle charging to fiber to the home, I applaud Anza Electric Cooperative management and board of directors for keeping electric service affordable, reliable as well as focusing on what the membership really wants and making sure that they meet the quality of life needs of the community," she said.

The meeting was fast-paced, as every speaker revealed great news to the membership in an informative and upbeat fashion. A short intermission was held and during that time, drawings for several electronic tablets that were won by some very happy AEC members.

Short introduced the employees of AEC as they came up to the front of the room. He mentioned that all members have had interaction with at least one of these great people at one time or another.

"It is my absolute pleasure to go to work every day because of these folks," Short said. "These are the folks that get all the work done."

He recognized Kathrine McIver, the member services manager, with an award for 30 years of service with good-humored jabs about her similarity to Olivia Newton John in an old photo of McIver snapped in 1988.

Short took a moment to introduce the Washington Youth Tour winners Chaysen Babcock, Olivia Necochea, Kayla Cervantes and Byron McDermott. The talented high school juniors submitted the winning essays that earned them this honor and a trip to the nation's capital. A video illustrating the excursion was shown.

Short continued with the general manager's report reviewing the progress of the cooperative and updates on various programs. He mentioned the AEC's generous contributions to charitable groups such as the Thimble Club, Anza Civic Improvement League and Hamilton School, plus many others. He revealed that the "Cooperative Care Program" has dispersed grants to members in need and that the "Operation Roundup" has raised $85,000 for the assistance program and assisted 350 cooperative members.

Short revealed the success of the AEC's participation in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk, for the second year. This year, they came in second in the fundraising effort, donating over $7,000 for the cause.

The financial health of the AEC is excellent, Short said. The AEC reduced its long-term interest rate by 1 percent within the last five years, projected to save millions of dollars over the next decades. 

There has been an increase of revenue since 2014, due to increased load, about 6 percent per year. This year there was a 9 1/2 percent increase in energy sales. ConnectAnza has also helped to increase the cooperative's total plant value by 13 percent over last year. 

"So far to date we have allocated $11.2 million back to you, the members of this cooperative. And we have returned about 50 percent of that total value to you over the years, and this year in September, the board has elected to return another $250,000 against your power bills. You'll be seeing that come in a couple of months," Short said with a smile.

He said that the Hoover Dam energy contribution and the Apache Solar Array in Arizona both help give the cooperative low-cost renewable sources of power. Also contributing is AEC's own SunAnza solar array. 

The 2 megawatt SunAnza plant, along with the coming Phase Two 1.5 megawatt facility, are slated to be able to power at least one grid at a time during an outage.

The Smart Electric Power Alliance, a national organization of which the AEC is a member, chose AEC as the No. 2 cooperative in the nation for solar deployment per member. 

"That's not a small thing," Short said. "And we were runner-up for cooperative of the year."

He spoke of the AEC's relationship with Southern California Edison and the improved communication as a result.

The AEC's rates are much lower than those of Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

An update on ConnectAnza internet service was given, with over 1,000 members connected to date.

"In June we were awarded the second phase grant from the PUC so we have now received a total of $4.5 million in PUC grant money to fund this project," Short explained.

Short touched upon infrastructure improvements, such as upgrading and modernizing substations, meters, wiring, voltage regulators and transformers.

"Thank you for your continued trust in the cooperative," he said in closing.

Diane Sieker

Cooperative utility trucks display flags held high in the air at the 2018 Anza Electric Cooperative annual membership meeting Saturday, July 21.

Short called for a question-and-answer session and entertained several intelligent inquiries posed by members.

Election results were presented.

In District I, Harold Burdick received 180 votes, and Ryall Stewart received 66.

In District II, Bill Adams received 185 votes, and Claudia Haeckel received 64.

The bylaw amendment was passed with 218 in favor, 18 against and 14 abstaining..

For District III, Stephen P. Silkotch Sr. was chosen, having run unopposed.

Adams called for any additional business and adjourned the meeting.

Additional drawings were made of more electronic tablets and cash prizes of $25, $50, $100 and $250 amounts.

For more information on the 2017 annual report, visit https://www.anzaelectric.org.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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