Feature story in the Adams Outlet – April 2012
Adams Electric & Western Illinois Study Benefits of Combining Cooperatives
The two not-for-profit cooperatives plan to study the benefits of combining forces
to improve service and efficiency for members
Western Illinois Electrical Coop. in Carthage and Adams Electric Cooperative in Camp Point have initiated a consolidation study.
With the announcement of Western Illinois Electrical Coop. Manager Paul Dion’s retirement in 2013, both Boards are evaluating the challenges and the benefits of consolidation. Initial discussions would have Jim Thompson, General Manager of Adams Electric Cooperative serving as interim manager with the goal of moving towards consolidation.
The study will determine how combining the cooperatives would financially benefit both memberships and provide a higher quality of service. Both Adams Electric Cooperative and Western Illinois Electrical Coop. are dedicated to improving the quality of life in western Illinois by providing reliable and affordable electricity to their members. Both Cooperatives have an excellent member service reputation.
“The goal will be to take two good cooperatives and make one great cooperative,” said Paul Dion, Manager of Western Illinois Electrical Coop.
The two cooperatives have been sharing technical knowledge with metering equipment and began joint purchasing in 2012. “We have found many opportunities to work together for cost savings. We currently share expensive inventory items and line construction equipment plus share knowledge of metering equipment,” explained Jim Thompson, General Manager of Adams Electric Cooperative. “It all saves money for our membership.”
“We look for every way we can to be as efficient as possible,” said Paul Dion. “Costs are rising, and it is the management and board’s duty to plan for the future and keep rates as low as possible.”
The Board of Directors from both cooperatives will consider many topics including: finances, board governance (size, timing, elections), human resources (staffing levels and benefits), services and technological opportunities. There are many issues to resolve in order to develop a consolidation plan that is beneficial to the members of both cooperatives.
No employees will lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation as changes will be made through attrition. Both Boards see consolidation as an opportunity for employees in terms of growth and professional development.
The Boards also agree that it is crucial to keep both cooperative offices open for the convenience of their members.
“We want to be confident such a consolidation will improve the level of service and commitment to our members,” said Robert Gronewold, President of Western Illinois Electrical Coop.’s Board of Directors.
For the consolidation to be approved, each cooperative must gain approval from two-thirds of the members voting. If consolidation occurs, any capital credits and member equity earned will not be lost.
“Adams Electric Cooperative and Western Illinois Electrical Coop. share common borders in Adams and Hancock counties,” said Jim Thompson. “It just makes sense for us to look at this in order to save money and improve service for our members.”
Western Illinois and Adams Electric are among 25 electric distribution cooperatives in Illinois. Adams Electric has 34 employees who serve 8,516 members in Adams, Brown, Schuyler, Pike, Hancock, McDonough, and Fulton counties on 2,226 miles of line. Western Illinois has 15 employees who serve 3,600 members in Adams, Hancock, Henderson and McDonough counties on 1,209 miles of line. Both cooperatives are members of Touchstone Energy – an alliance of more than 700 consumer-owned electric utilities around the country.
“One thing that won’t change is your voice as a member-owner of your electric cooperative,” said Jim Benz, President of Adams Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors.
Both cooperatives will provide monthly updates in their member newsletters regarding the consolidation study progress.