PRECorp News OCTOBER 2016
PRECorp members gather in Buffalo for Annual Meeting By Tim Velder, PRECorp Marketing and Communications Voting, reports, lunch, and prizes highlighted the Powder River Energy 71st Annual Meeting at Buffalo High School on August 27. The in-person member attendance of 154 far exceeded the required quorum of 100 members. There were an additional 181 proxy votes mailed prior to the meeting, which were also counted in the elections for Board of Directors. Members who attended heard from Board President Walt Christensen, Board Secretary-Treasurer Philip Habeck, COO and Deputy GM Les Penning, and CEO Mike Easley. CEO Mike Easley CEO Mike Easley said the PRECorp Board of Directors, staff, and employees have been working hard to blunt the impact of a declining energy sales environment in northeast Wyoming. Much of the work since the 2015 Annual Meeting has been focused on shoring up PRECorp’s financial security and risk management efforts. “This exercise has been tough for everyone, but at the end of the day PRECorp and its membership are
Photos by Brian Mills/PRECorp
More than 300 PRECorp members attended the 71st Annual Meeting at Buffalo High School on August 27. better protected today from power bill defaults than they have been in the past,” he said. Easley explained that PRECorp is not alone. He said that PRECorp’s wholesale power supplier continued on page 6...
In This Issue Regular business: 1-800-442-3630 • Report an outage: 1-888-391-6220 www.precorp.coop
CEO Straight Talk New co-op formed with Montana co-ops
PRECorp Foundation golf event raises funds Surplus auction
CEO Straight Talk
Following cooperative principles Every October, electric cooperatives across the United States take time to reflect upon the core principles which have made them collectively one of the largest providers of electricity to rural America. There are seven core principles upon which cooperatives operate. I wanted to spend time this month highlighting those principles, and also show you how PRECorp lives those principles as we serve you, the member/owner.
Open and voluntary membership Signing up for electric service means you are joining the membership in Powder River Energy. We are obligated to serve you and bring electricity to your home, ranch, or business. Since our founding in 1945, this has been a cooperative where members choose to join and participate.
MIKE EASLEY, CEO
Democratic member control As a member and owner, you have a say in how PRECorp is run. This is shown outwardly when you are invited to attend the Annual Meeting and vote for the Board of Directors. You can talk to your board representatives and they will bring your story to the attention of the CEO. You also have the opportunity to share your opinion and give ratings through member surveys.
Members economic participation This principle is tied to the grass-roots nature of an electric cooperative. There are no shareholders or Wall Street investment bankers who benefit when PRECorp is successful financially. You, the members, see the financial benefits in the form of capital credits based on your volume of power purchases during a given year.
Autonomy and independence As your elected representatives, PRECorpâ€™s Board of Directors create bylaws and policies to guide the operation of the cooperative. The Board works within these rules and operates independently of other cooperatives and power providers.
Education, training and information Part of the obligation of your cooperative to its members is to provide information about the cooperative, and bring safety and energy efficiency information to you. We provide various channels for members to receive this information ranging from printed materials, to electronic media such as websites, Smart phone apps, and social media. We also provide electrical safety programs for children and adults.
Cooperation among cooperatives There are benefits to neighbor helping neighbor. For example, PRECorpâ€™s strategy of expanding economies of scale has brought three cooperatives together for the benefit of all. Partnerships with Fergus and Tongue River cooperatives in Montana will help us retain lower costs of wholesale power through our proposal to form Members 1st Power Cooperative.
Concern for community This principle is more than giving cash donations to community organizations. Concern for community stretches to the effort to get involved and alleviate the stress on individuals and relief organizations who feel the direct impact of economic hardships. This is demonstrated through employee-driven food drives and donations of personal time to community activities. Your participation in Operation RoundUpÂŽ empowers the Powder River Energy Foundation to help veterans, food pantries, families in crisis, and arts and education programs.
Basin Electric members to consider new co-op Powder River Energy’s relationship with its wholesale power supplier Basin Electric is likely to change for the better in the coming months. Basin and PRECorp, both member-owned cooperatives, are controlled by their members. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Because of PRECorp’s past history of high megawatt sales, it holds a board seat on the Basin board of directors. Shrinking sales due to the downturn in the energy sector threaten PRECorp’s membership status with Basin, and in turn PRECorp’s seat on the Basin board of directors. To address this possibility PRECorp has spearheaded the formation of Members 1st Power Cooperative. Members 1st will be a generation and transmission cooperative initially comprised of PRECorp, Fergus Electric Cooperative (Lewistown, Mont.), and Tongue River Electric Cooperative (Ashland, Mont.).
The formation of the Members 1st Power Cooperative guarantees a Basin Electric board seat and therefore a voice on the Basin board for PRECorp, Fergus, and Tongue River. Another benefit to the member cooperatives is to gain economies of scale and savings associated with a bigger presence. By banding together, the cooperatives can have economic benefit which is shared by its members. Fergus and Tongue River are scheduled to begin purchasing power from PRECorp in January 2017. Each cooperative will have representation on the new Members 1st Board of Directors, with PRECorp holding three seats and one each for Fergus and Tongue River. PRECorp sought approval from the Basin Electric Bylaw Committee in September. The full Basin Electric membership will consider adoption of the new Members 1st Power Cooperative at the November 9-10 Annual Meeting in Bismarck, N.D.
Calendar: The PRECorp Board of Directors meets the third Tuesday of every month at 9:30 a.m. The meeting locations rotate between the offices in Gillette, Sheridan, and Sundance. The schedule follows: • • • • • •
Tuesday, October 18, Sundance Tuesday, November 15, Gillette Tuesday, December 20, Sheridan Tuesday, January 17, Sundance Tuesday, February 21, Gillette Tuesday, March 21, Sheridan
Other dates to remember: • Friday, November 11: Veterans Day, PRECorp offices closed. Call 1-888-391-6220 with an outage. • Thursday and Friday, November 24-25: Thanksgiving Holiday, PRECorp offices closed. Call 1-888-391-6220 with an outage. • Monday, December 26: Christmas Holiday, PRECorp offices closed. Call 1-888-391-6220 with an outage. • Monday, January 2: New Year’s Day, PRECorp offices closed. Call 1-888-391-6220 with an outage.
Bill cycle dates have changed PRECorp has adjusted the dates between the meter reading and when you receive your monthly statement. By reducing the time it takes to produce your billing statement following the consumption period, the Cooperative is able to better serve its members. Bills will continue to be due upon receipt and will still allow 20 days following the statement date for payment to be made. You will notice a new delinquent date on your bill and the amount due might be larger than usual because of an extended billing cycle this one time. Call PRECorp Member Service at 1-800-442-3630 if you have any questions about your bill or if you would like to make an arrangement to spread out the higher bill.
PRECORP NEWS PRECorp Foundation Executive Director Les Penning, left, receives a gift of appreciation from B.A.C.A. representatives ‘Hooter’ and ‘1/2 Caff’ at the 2016 Foundation Golf Tournament in Hulett. Funds raised from the event go toward many local charities that touch people throughout northeast Wyoming. This year’s event raised approximately $20,000 for B.A.C.A. and Gillette’s Hometown Veterans. Photo by Tim Velder/PRECorp
Foundation golf fundraiser a success By Tim Velder, PRECorp Marketing and Communications Much-needed funds were raised for Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) and local veterans’ charities during the 9th Annual Powder River Energy Foundation golf tournament held September 9, at the Golf Club at Devils Tower. The Foundation gives to charities ranging from early childhood education, elderly care, community development and programs for those in economic need. Vendors, suppliers, and members of Powder River Energy Corporation sponsor the tournament. Anixter is a primary coordinator and donor of time and resources to the tournament. Anixter assists in coordinating the vendors who provide products and services ranging from engineering and consulting, to poles and materials, wiring, and other inventory that builds and maintains the PRECorp distribution system. Les Penning, Deputy General Manager of PRECorp and Executive Director of the Foundation, thanked the golfers and sponsors prior to the round. Penning explained how being a part of the PRECorp cooperative system and supporting the community nonprofits and services through their sponsorship makes a big
difference for PRECorp members and communities in northeast Wyoming. “In northeast Wyoming we don’t have all the resources that other areas have in supporting disabled veterans, so it’s a space that has been a new focus for us,” Penning said. He also said there are a lot of communities struggling to keep food pantries stocked which the Foundation also helps alleviate. Through team sponsorships, pin prize sponsorships and outright donations, approximately $20,000 was raised for the two Foundation charities. Champion sponsor Penning thanked Bell Lumber & Pole of New Brighton, Minn., for its commitment to helping improve the lives of communities in northeast Wyoming. Bell has been supplying wood utility poles to North American utility markets for more than a century. Since 1909 the family-owned business has manufactured utility poles for sale to rural electric cooperatives throughout the United States. Their mission statement is: “Stewardship – Excellence – Entrepreneurial Spirit.”
Audit brings the power of cooperative membership to ‘The Tower’ Anyone who has lived in or visited northeast Wyoming for any length of time has seen the iconic Devils Tower National Monument in person or in imagery. The geologic wonder protrudes from the Belle Fourche River valley in central Crook County, Wyoming, and sticks out like a thumb in the surrounding Black Hills and prairies. This site’s unique natural significance brought it to the forefront of the preservation movement and it was designated as America’s first National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Photo by Tim Velder/PRECorp
Basin Electric energy advisor Chad Reisenauer takes notes while Devils Tower National Monument acting facility manager Rich Lambert explains some of the electrical systems used in the Monument’s maintenance shop during a Powder River Energy Corporation energy audit of the facilities August 30, 2016.
Because this area draws nearly 500,000 tourists annually from around the world, the federal caretakers devote a lot of energy to keeping the monument roads, trails, structures, and other amenities safe and accessible. These behind-the-scenes workers need electricity to keep their operation running. That electricity comes from your local electric cooperative Powder River Energy.
PRECorp purchases its wholesale power from Basin Electric. One of the services Basin provides to its members is access to a trained energy efficiency expert to assist PRECorp members by conducting home or business facility energy audits. Chad Reisenauer, Basin Electric director of Strategic Planning & Member Support, brings experience and some suggestions of ways members can save energy and money. Reisenauer, a certified energy manager through the Association of Energy Engineers, joined PRECorp Member Service Supervisor Mandy Marr and Devils Tower acting facility manager Rich Lambert for a walk-through of the maintenance buildings and seasonal employee residences at the National Monument on August 29 to identify areas for energy efficiencies. During his audit, Reisenauer identified areas for savings and evaluated the costs and benefits of making the efficiency upgrades. For instance, Reisenauer evaluated the benefit of a skylight in a room versus the resulting air leakage, and an-
other analysis of the savings of not having a light bulb in that room versus the potential higher heating/cooling cost. These energy audits focus on equipment or shell measures that have the highest potential for saving energy, such as water heaters, heating and cooling units, air leaks and insulation levels, and shop motors and air compressors. According to Devils Tower Facility Services Assistant Jennifer Lorich, the audit is part of an ongoing initiative to identify areas where energy can be saved and power costs trimmed. “This is a service we provide to help our members take more control over their energy usage,” Marr said. “Many of the things we find are relatively low-cost and can save energy every month. One of the more interesting things I have learned is that small things can make a big difference in energy usage, like fixing a crack in a doorway or window with sealant or weather stripping. In addition to saving energy, these types of fixes make a home more comfortable by reducing drafts.” Any PRECorp member who would like to schedule an energy audit can call PRECorp Member Service at 1-800-442-3630 for more information.
Annual Meeting... Basin Electric has undergone significant changes to its revenue projections which triggered a rare mid-year wholesale power cost increase. PRECorp has filed to implement this increase with the Wyoming Public Service Commission and expects a decision in October. PRECorp officials are also in the process of requesting a general rate increase for 2017. Easley reminded the members present that their bills will show a noticeable increase in January with the requested September
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COPA and January General Rate Case, both pending final approval from the Wyoming Public Service Commission. Residential members who use an average of 1200 kwh per month are estimated to see a total increase of approximately $18.80, if both are approved as requested. That amount is derived from an estimated $6.95 for the COPA increase, and $11.85 for the General Rate Case. Easley also discussed expense reductions and other actions the cooperative is taking to help address declining sales. Examples included wage freezes and asking cooperative employees to bear a larger portion of rising health costs while looking for efficiencies and cost savings in other areas of running the cooperative. So far in 2016, $1.3 million in expenses have been cut and more are expected. A video of Easley’s speech, and the entire meeting is posted to http://precorp.coop/company-andnews/about/annual-meeting/
(Above) PRECorp CFAO Joanne Kolb and Finance Manager Abby Olson collect food donations for the Buffalo food pantry at the 71st Annual Meeting. (Below) PRECorp Board President Walt Christensen, left, presents the Earl Christensen Cooperative Service Award to John Flocchini.
Elections Incumbent board members Gerry Geis, Campbell County; Pam Kinchen, Johnson County, and Reuben Ritthaler, Weston County, were re-elected for three-year terms. Treasurer’s Report Habeck noted a $314,000 operating margin in 2015. Habeck outlined lender requirements to meet certain financial metrics and strategies to return a one-time bill credit from Basin Electric. He pointed out the member benefits of home efficiency loan programs, solar stock well pumping programs, and Operation RoundUp. PRECorp Foundation Penning highlighted activities of the Powder River Energy Foundation. Penning also recognized PRECorp employees who raised funds for an apprentice lineman scholarship program and for Crook County Volunteer Fire Departments. Penning discussed the changes in the Foundation’s approach to fundraising and continued on page 7...
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Board members elected in 2016: Campbell County: Gerry Geis Johnson County: Pam Kinchen Weston County: Reuben Ritthaler giving in the past year as larger events with major sponsors were conducted with targeted giving to specific organizations. Special recognition President Christensen presented the 2016 Earl Christensen Award to Wright area buffalo rancher John Flocchini. In his more than 30 years of involvement in the area Flocchini has emerged as a leader in promoting the cooperative principles of neighbor helping neighbor. Food drive successful The PRECorp CAFA Food Drive gathered 258 pounds of food and $149 in donations to the Buffalo food pantry.
Door Prizes Following the meeting, members who attended the meeting in person were entered in drawings for a wide range of prizes valued at more than $3,600. Many of these prizes were donated by companies and businesses who are partners with PRECorp in providing electrical service to the cooperative members. Those prize sponsors are: • Sundance Equipment • Collins Communications • Northeast Wyoming Construction • WREN • Basin Electric • Ward Electric • Tom’s Tire • Western Services • Climate Solutions • Hughes Law Office • Anixter • The Line Company • Architectural Specialties, Inc. • K&K Auto Repair • JW Services • Western Line Builders • T&R Electric • Gantz Backhoe
Bayli Buckmiller awarded Swanda Scholarship Moorcroft High School graduate, Bayli Buckmiller, was awarded the 2016-2017 Swanda Scholarship by the Powder River Energy Foundation Board of Directors. Bayli is the daughter of Dusty and Bayli Buckmiller Melissa Buckmiller of Moorcroft. She plans to major in Business and Human Resources Management at the University of Wyoming, with the goal of working in an agricultural business field. The scholarship was established by Antone and Julie Swanda for the purpose of awarding $2,500 to a student from Crook County who is entering a field of study in agriculture or animal science. The scholarship is open to graduating seniors from Hulett, Moorcroft, and Sundance, with a rotating preference every year. This year the preferred school is Hulett High School. However, if there are no eligible applicants from the preferred school, then it is opened up to students from the other schools. Because of dual enrollment programs, Buckmiller earned an Associate of Arts Degree in high school. “It is my hope that once I complete my education, I can return to my hometown and still be able to help on the family ranch,” Buckmiller said.
Ebay auctions continue for PRECorp surplus Retired PRECorp vehicles are on the auction block in special surplus equipment auctions on eBay. Two 10-day auctions will be held for trucks (Sept. 30-Oct. 10), and snowmobiles/trailers (Oct. 2131). The online bidding starts at 8 p.m. MST on the opening day, and closes at 8 p.m. MST on the final day. The auctions are being held on eBay to give PRECorp members and non-members a chance to bid, regardless of where they are located. The eBay auctions increase exposure which maximizes the number of potential bidders. The items below will be listed in the truck auction Sept. 30-Oct. 10: (All decals will be removed prior to sale, trucks will be cleaned.) • 1-2000 Chevy 1500 pickup • 1-2001 Chevy 1500 pickup • 1-2006 Chevy 3500 truck with service body • 1-2008 Ford F350 cab and chassis 56” CA (can mount an 8’ pickup box or a flatbed) • 1-2009 Ford F250 Pickup The items below will be listed in the snowmobile/trailer auction October 21-31: Snowmobiles • 1-2002 Polaris RMK 600 • 1-2003 Polaris Wide Track • 1-2002 Artic Cat Bear Cat 500
Trailers • 1-2003 Snowmobile trailer • 1-2002 Snowmobile trailer • 1-2004 Snowmobile trailer Note to bidders: Please obtain more information from the eBay listings, or e-mail fleet@precorp. coop. These are the only sources of information on these items. Please do not inquire with our offices or outposts because they do not have information on these vehicles. Details of each unit along with pictures will be on eBay at the start of sale. How to access the PRECorp units on eBay: 1. Go to www.ebay.com 2. At top of page to the far right click on “Advanced” 3. On the “Advanced Search Page”, scroll down the page to “Sellers” 4. Check the box titled “Only items show from:” 5. In the blank box, type in: “vehiclesinwyoming” 6. Click on “Search”, or hit “Enter” 7. The PRECorp vehicles for auction will appear on the start date and time of the sale. Once the auction ends, eBay will send out a notification to the winning buyer and PRECorp. At that point, PRECorp will e-mail the buyer with information on how to make contact, payment, and where to pick up the unit.
Trucks: 9/30 - 10/10
2000 Chevy 1500
2001 Chevy 1500
2006 Chevy 3500
2008 Ford F350
2009 Ford F250
Snowmobiles/trailers 10/21 -10/31
2002 Artic Cat Bear Cat 500
2003 Polaris wide-track
2002 Polaris RMK 600
2002 Snowmobile trailer
2003 Snowmobile trailer
2004 Snowmobile trailer
Regular business: 1-800-442-3630 • Report an outage: 1-888-391-6220 www.precorp.coop Powder River Energy Corporation is an equal opportunity provider and employer.