A total of 950 members and guests came together April 8 for the 78th Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Assn. Annual Meeting held at its Litchfield headquarters.
The theme was “Powering and Empowering Members.” A three-person panel consisting of Jon Brekke, vice president of member services from Great River Energy, Jeff Nelson, general manager of East River Electric Power Cooperative and Jim Bach, field representative for Western Area Power Association, spoke about the challenges of delivering power, including legislated renewable energy mandates and distributed generation policy that have a negative impact on electric costs, the retirement of experienced and talented cooperative employees at a time when technological advances require seasoned personnel, and the future of generation resources as 20 percent of existing coal plants could be shut down by 2016.
Brekke also delivered a message concerning the current Omnibus Energy bills being considered in the Minnesota Legislature and how this legislation could negatively affect GRE member cooperatives’ energy bills.
“We are driven by what our members are saying to us,” Brekke said. “Our latest survey done in 2012 shows that the interest in renewables is declining, while the importance in power reliability and affordability is increasing with our members. We are working hard in a unified way with other cooperatives to bring this message to legislators in St. Paul,” Brekke said.
Meeker Cooperative provided members with a brochure outlining the issues of the Omnibus Energy bills and the anticipated costs, as well as providing post cards addressed to Governor Dayton and legislators throughout the Co-op’s service territory urging them not to pass energy legislation that will increase members’ electric bills.
Three directors were elected to fill seats on the board. In District 3 candidate Brad Donnay was elected. Jeff Anderson of District 5 ran unopposed and was elected for another three years. Incumbent Larry Huhn and challenger Ben Beckman ran for the District 8 director position. After the votes were tallied again and again, there remained a tie. According to the By-Laws, a tie is to be decided by a coin toss. After both candidates were called to the stage, the Co-op’s attorney Kim Keithahn tossed the coin and it was determined that Ben Beckman won the seat for District 8.
Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Assn. is a member-owned rural electric cooperative that was founded in 1935. For 78 years, Meeker Co-op has delivered safe, reliable and competitively-priced electricity and other value-added services to its 8,000 members in Meeker, Wright, McLeod, Renville, Kandiyohi and Stearns counties, while remaining good stewards of the environment. Additional services offered by the Cooperative include Exede High-Speed Internet and Heartland Security Systems.