Let me start by saying how unfortunate it is that I am having to deliver this address electronically rather than in person. The Board and I deeply regret not being able to host all of you at the Cooperative facilities this year as we have done for some 80 years now. We have no records indicating we have previously cancelled the meeting, and God willing, this time next year we will be back together on a nice fall afternoon, the 2nd Friday of October 2021.
2020, we could never have imagined all we have seen take place in the span of one particular year! Remember before Covid 19; the biggest concerns were murder hornets and a show about a guy with a big cat sanctuary in Oklahoma? Fast-forward 10 months and look where we are today, not only as a nation but globally. I’ve heard a wide array of words used to try and describe 2020 such as, “apocalyptic, confusing and terrifying”. All of these and many more are likely applicable, but the one that best describes it for me is “Challenging”. Being in a business that is affected by the weather, we never know what is coming at us next. However, we’ve done it long enough that we feel prepared and even plan for pandemics in our Emergency Action Plan. Generally it is concerning a large-scale flu outbreak, but no one could have predicted the ramifications of Covid 19. Challenging is the term I chose because, as your electric cooperative, we are deemed an “essential business”. It matters not what else is going on in the world, we have an obligation to continue the highest level of service to our members that we can provide. In fact, when the state and local officials were handing down “shelter in place” orders and telling us what we should or shouldn’t do, they were still admonishing us to provide service and make sure to do it in a way that protects our employees and the communities we serve.
Of course, there were no instructions to go with those orders so we had to do what my two children learned in the USMC; “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome”. For a time, we were only able to perform restoration activities as we were trying our best to social distance from one another and the public. Then, along comes mother nature in April and we were challenged to recover from a tornado and strong, straight lined winds that took our crews and those of neighboring Cooperatives a week to repair. This was followed up by additional, significant storms. Suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, and in the midst of storms trying to keep it all going. I am fortunate that I have a great group of highly intelligent, motivated, self- disciplined employees that understood the challenges we were facing and rose to the occasion. When asked to social distance, wear masks, sanitize and then sanitize some more, stay within your crew, drive separate vehicles, don’t come into the office unless absolutely necessary, and countless other measures we put into place, they did what was necessary for the safety and well-being of all of us. I couldn’t be prouder of the way our people responded. Never has Cooperative Principle #7, “Concern for Community” been more on display than during this crisis.
Although 2020 is the thing most on our minds, this is intended to be my address for what transpired within the Cooperative for 2019. For the 3rd consecutive year we saw strong electric sales, only falling behind 2018’s numbers by about 2%. Couple good sales with good financial controls by the Board and employees, and what you have is the recipe for favorable financials. In 2019 the Cooperative had operating margins of $2,056,598 with total margins of $4,573,276. For this reason the Board decided to retire $1,446,179 in capital credits in October, and in December awarded the members with a revenue rebate of $1,502,857. Combined, this is the largest return of member money retired in a single year in the history of the Cooperative. You will all be receiving a statement for 2020 which reports the Board has elected to return a sizable Capital Credit retirement of $1,817,916. In addition to favorable sales, we saw better than budgeted numbers for cost of power. For this reason we’ve all enjoyed a reduction in the PCRF (power cost recovery factor) for most of 2020. You’re paying less per kwh than you were a year ago.
All facets of the Cooperative continue to be strong even in the midst of adversity. Regardless of what is going on our goal remains the same. We are here to provide the membership with the highest level of service we can with reliability and economics as our guideposts. We appreciate the support you all have shown to us during these challenging times and hopefully soon all of this will be a distant memory! In the meantime, please stay safe, take care of one another and help someone out that needs it. Being a part of a Cooperative means more than being a group of individuals receiving electrical service. It’s about all of us working together to improve the lives of all the membership.
God Bless you all!
Mark A. Boyd
Bowie-Cass Electric Cooperative, Inc.