2018 Meeting Recap and Audio
Images courtesy of MJM's Executive Assistant, Jen Peterson and AIEC's Assistant Editor, Colten Bradford.
CARLINVILLE – Members of M.J.M. Electric Cooperative were updated on power supply, growth, cyber security and member involvement during the organization’s 79th annual meeting of members held at Carlinville High School, Saturday, March 24.
President/CEO Laura Cutler discussed trends in power supply and growth. Due to milder weather conditions, a steady decline of population growth in Illinois and an increase in renewable energy, kilowatt (KWH) sales are decreasing each year, but the fixed costs to provide the electricity haven’t decreased. A cost of service study recently completed for the co-op indicated that M.J.M. Electric’s fixed monthly residential rate should be nearly $70 per month. The co-op bumped the fixed charge to $40, but this is just a step approach and the charge will be gradually increased. Although the fixed cost increased, it will still leave the co-op reliant on KWH sales.
“It doesn’t matter if we sell one KWH or thousands of KWHs, we still have fixed operating costs that we incur,” said Cutler. “The board and management will continue to monitor fixed costs to make sure we are staying on top of where we need to be to meet our banker’s requirements.”
Due to recent highly publicized cyber security attacks, the co-op’s leadership has taken measures to protect member privacy and information. Although Information Technology Administrator Chris Franzen continuously monitors the co-op’s computer system for potential security breaches, the co-op purchased cyber security insurance and had a cyber security audit performed in late 2016, in collaboration with Wabash Valley Power Association’s (WVPA) IT Department. The co-op will continue to be diligent about the ongoing cyber security threat.
To improve member satisfaction and provide more education about the cooperative and its products and services, M.J.M. Electric recently assembled a diverse group of members to form a Member Advocate Committee representing each of the co-op’s nine districts. Members are encouraged to speak to their district’s advocate with any questions or concerns about the co-op.
Treasurer Kay Schultz provided a financial update. Due to projects the co-op took on to improve member service and system reliability, the co-op’s plant has grown by $2.7 million in 2017. Total margins for the year totaled $937,458, and total capital credits refunded through Dec. 31, 2017 were $2,851,703.
Another major project slated for the coming year to improve office efficiency and member accessibility and service is the construction of a new co-op headquarters. The new headquarters will replace an outdated facility that was built in 1955 to serve 1,600 members and 11 employees. The co-op has grown to now serve 7,773 members and 23 employees. It struggles with cramped quarters, outdated mechanicals and a lack of building efficiencies, and can no longer meet the co-op’s or members’ needs.
The building site will be located on the Shipman Blacktop and M.J.M. will be its own electric provider. Land will be purchased soon, and the project will save due to energy efficiency rebates through WVPA, a REAP grant through USDA Rural Development and possible annexation into the Macoupin County Enterprise Zone, which offers property tax savings.
During the meeting, Robert Moore of Medora, Paul Bartlett of Brighton and Dennis Stewart from Nokomis were re-elected to the co-op’s board of directors. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-48, Bunker Hill; and State Representatives Avery Bourne, R-95, Raymond, and C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-100, Jacksonville, were on hand to greet the crowd. WVPA President/CEO Jay Bartlett explained the organization’s role as M.J.M. Electric’s power provider and discussed renewable energy and its impact on the co-op.
M.J.M. Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of 750 local, consumer-owned electric utilities around the country. M.J.M. Electric is committed to providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves approximately 9,400 meters and over 2,127 miles of line in Macoupin, Jersey, Montgomery, Bond, Fayette, Greene and Madison counties. M.J.M. Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.