Adams Electric Cooperative (AEC) members gathered at Bailey Park on Wednesday, Sept. 6 for their co-op’s Annual Meeting. Prior to the meeting, AEC members were treated to a pulled pork dinner, shaved ice, vendor booths, music by the Silkwood-Baker Group, and activities for children and adults alike.
The business meeting began at 7 p.m. in the park where members heard updates from the co-op’s leadership. Board President Becky Barlow welcomed the members to the meeting, announced a quorum with 391 members present (approximately 1,000 meals served) and thanked the AEC employees for their hard work over the past year. Barlow then introduced Kris Farwell, Board Secretary, who read the official notice.
Manager of Communications Laura Bergman introduced two high school students who represented AEC in June 2023 during the Youth to Washington Tour. Anna Fenton, daughter of Scot and Wendy Fenton, and Owen Zanger, son of Chuck and Bridgett Zanger, both gave a short speech regarding their experiences on the weeklong trip and what it meant to them.
Manager of Marketing and Member Services Bill Stalder recognized Lucas Dotson, winner of an IEC Memorial Scholarship. Lucas was awarded the Earl W. Struck Scholarship reserved for sons/daughters of cooperative employees or directors.
Stalder went on to thank members of the Cooperative’s Advisory Committee who discuss current projects and offer feedback on new programs offered by AEC.
Stalder also gave an update on the Penny Power Program, a grant program funded by AEC co-op members who round their monthly electric bills up to the nearest dollar. The funds get invested back into the community. To date, AEC has awarded $636,099.54 to non-profit organizations in the area. After reviewing applications in July, 22 grants were awarded totaling $9,680. Stalder introduced Dr. Melissa McKelvie, Executive Director, and Drew Quintero, Marketing and Development Director, of Cornerstone: Foundations for Families in Quincy to the stage. Director Rex Niekamp also joined them in the awarding of a $500 check to be used for their play therapy program.
Barlow came back to the stage to conduct her report. “Adams Electric is one of the most respected co-ops in the state,” she began, adding that the co-op is a front-runner in technology and top notch in the practice of safety. She then introduced the co-op’s dedicated employees. “Thank you for your dedication and hard work to make Adams Electric the co-op we can be proud of,” Barlow said.
AEC Manager/CEO Jim Thompson introduced Eric Hobbie, CEO of Prairie Power, Inc., located in Springfield, Ill. Thompson laid out open-ended questions to Hobbie educating the members on the possibility of rolling blackouts. “Rolling blackouts are very hard to predict due to the sheer number of variables in play that would lead to a rolling blackout, but as has been shown by recent history in the US, the likelihood of one occurring has greatly increased,” Hobbie warned.
The discussion continued by stating the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) dispatches the generation resources in 15 states and the province of Manitoba Canada to ensure reliable and economic operations of our electric grid. MISO does not own or build any power or transmission facilities, but they do ensure the reliable operations of both. On August 24, 2023, an extremely hot day, when temperatures peaked around 100 degrees in Illinois, the largest portion, 80% of all generation came from natural gas and coal while wind and solar only made up a total of 6.9% of electric supply.
When asked if electric cooperatives support renewable energy, it’s a strong and passionate ‘yes’ from Hobbie and Thompson. Hobbie says, “The difference between many in the utility industry, policy makers, and environmentalists comes down to the pace of change. A proper phrase to remember is: Don’t let policy get ahead of technology.”
Given the fact that we have seen increasing prices and declining reliability, utilities like electric cooperatives are taking a slow and measured approach to ensure the critical elements of affordability and reliability are maintained during the transition. “It is very unclear today on what percent renewables is an actual sensible target given all the rhetoric around this issue, but 100% renewable today will fail on the two fundamentals of affordability and reliability,” Hobbie stated.
An election of directors also occurred. Jim Ward, District 4; Kris Farwell, District 5; Tom Travis, District 6, were all re-elected to new three-year terms on the board.
Adams Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — a national alliance of local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives providing high standards of service to members large and small. More than 700 Touchstone Energy cooperatives in 46 states are delivering energy and energy solutions to more than 30 million members every day. Adams Electric Cooperative is committed to providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves more than 9,000 meters over 2,267 miles of line in parts of Adams, Brown, Hancock, McDonough, Pike and Schuyler counties. For more information visit www.adamselectric.coop.
# # #