PIQUA — The annual meeting of members of Pioneer Electric was held at Edison Community College in Piqua on Saturday, March 24.
Chairman of the Board Ronald Clark presented an overview of the cooperative’s community solar program “Our Solar” that was provided by Buckeye Power in 2017. Clark shared Pioneer’s commitment to providing only the best in service locally while also working alongside other cooperatives in times of need highlighting two mutual aid trips to the states of Georgia and New Hampshire after major power outages due to storms.
“The year 2017 presented its share of challenges here and in other states but that’s what we plan for; we were ready when trouble showed up and all pulled together in times of diversity to provide the best in customer service. I’m very proud of our people and what they do, they are truly committed and it shows,” Clark said. “And it doesn’t end there, we are constantly working on goals and strategies for future demands and maintaining the level of service our members have grown to expect. Those goals span every aspect of our business and address concerns like delivering on our promise of reliability while remaining strong financially and keeping rate increases as low as practical.”
Before turning the meeting over to Pioneer President and CEO Ron Salyer and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Susan Knore, Clark encouraged participation in Pioneer’s political action committee ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action and addressed the importance of being heard on key issues by representatives in local, state, and federal government.
Following the business meeting Knore updated those in attendance on the details of operational finances and costs associated with normal operations. In her report she noted that Pioneer’s operating expenditure for 2017 was $66.4 million but their Cost Savings Initiative had reduced costs by $420,000.00 and that future plans were geared for continuing advancements in cutting expenses.
“Though Pioneer averages only six customers per mile of line they used over 650 million kW hours of electricity, the residential average was 1265 kWh per month and we have experienced and annual growth rate of less than 1 percent since 2007. We are continually working on ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency” Knore said.
Pioneer President and CEO Ron Salyer spoke at length about safety, service and the security of the cooperative and powerline maintenance.
“Great employees lead to great service” said Salyer, “The hard work of our employees and help from neighboring cooperatives really made a difference in 2017. We had no safety-related injuries last year, but did see a few sprains and we have implemented a new program to help prevent those issues in the future,” Salyer said.
Salyer also talked about how to stay safe when involved in an accident where power lines are downed.
“Never assume wires are not energized, stay in your car until help arrives! In the event of a fire and the need to flee a burning vehicle it is important to remember to jump to safety; never touch the ground and the car at the same time while exiting a vehicle with a power line laying on it, always jump away from the vehicle,” Salyer said.
Next Salyer talked about the internet and doing business with computers.
“On the cyber end of things we are working hard to protect your information from identity theft and other spyware programs. We actually hired a “hacker” to see if he could hack into our system but he could not get into our external network. We also tried to trick out employees by sending fake emails or phishing scams but they came through with flying colors and are learning how to identify even the most creative techniques used by information thieves. At the office level we also tested our team at the counter to make sure they were not duped by those seeking confidential information; all in all our staff performed very well,” said Salyer.
Salyer also commended those working daily on the distribution lines to keep them in great working order. “We removed over 7,000 dead ash trees last year that were a threat to our lines; that brings the total thus far to over 10,000 trees removed. Our maintenance programs are designed to prevent outages and I am thankful to report that though we had a record number of storms last year, especially in July, we had no outages due to trees falling on wires. That’s what happens when a lot of great people are doing a great job!” Salyer said.
The election results for Board of Trustees and each of the county boards were announced. Those running for their respective boards are Pioneer members and are elected by their fellow members. Voting was conducted by mail and online. Elected to three-year terms on the Pioneer Board of Trustees were: Ted Black of Champaign County, Duane Engel of Miami County, and Terrence Householder of Shelby County. Positions filled on the county boards of the Champaign, Miami and Shelby districts are as follows. Those elected to the Champaign County board are: Mark Atterholt, Urbana; Joan S. Zerkle, Urbana; Philip Hisnay, Cable; and Chad Wallace, Cable.
Elected to the Miami County board are: Wayne Mullenix, Piqua; William Platfoot, Tipp City; Wade Wilhelm, New Carlisle; and Robert Billings, Tipp City. Those to serve on the Shelby County board are: Roger Wehrman, Fort Loramie; John Geise, Sidney; David Slagle, Anna; and Kimberly Strunk, Sidney.
During their re-organizational meeting, the Pioneer Board elected the following officers for the year: Ron Clark, chair; Mark Bailey, first vice chair; Colleen Eidemiller, second vice chair; Terrence Householder, secretary; and Ron Bair, treasurer.
The event concluded with several activities those in attendance could participate in to win prizes, and watch safety demonstrations. A home show on the premises included vendors sharing displaying products related to home improvements along with information and services available. Members also had the opportunity to meet and talk to the line crew, energy adviser, vegetation manager, and staking technicians about the services they provide.
Pioneer Electrical Cooperative is a non-for-profit distribution utility providing electrical service to it member-owners. The Cooperative covers a large range focused primarily in Champaign, Miami and Shelby Counties as well as smaller portions of eight surrounding counties in the same area.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.