2020 will no doubt mark a memorable year in the history books for all of us. Despite the setback, the pandemic imposed on our original plans to start this decade, the change in how we worked allowed us to shift efforts to planning and focusing more strategically on our priorities once we could fully resume normal operations.
Here is a summary of the positive progress our cooperative made this year:
- Financial gains – Cloverland continues to make strides towards a stronger financial foundation. We managed the cooperative utilizing operating revenue to avoid taking on additional debt. We have also paid off all short-term debt that was utilized due to the Thanksgiving 2019 and New Year’s 2020 storms.
- Improved equity ratio – As equity ratio is essentially our credit rating in the cooperative world, improving it is vital to our success. In 2019, we improved our ratio from roughly 20% to 22.5% and in 2020, we increased our ratio to nearly 25.5% year to date (October).
- Capital credits distribution – We paid out $500,000 in capital credits in 2020 to members on record with Cloverland in 1993. The last time Cloverland paid out capital credits was 2016, and we continue to work toward a sustainable program to pay out capital credits annually.
- Strategic studies – In 2020, Cloverland commissioned three important studies to help direct our activities and inform our decisions for long-term planning. These studies included a review of our SCADA system, right-of-way & vegetation maintenance program and an analysis of the capital needs for our hydroelectric facility.
- Power supply enhancements – We made strides in examining opportunities to bring financial value to the membership through effective management of our power supply.
- Broadband review – We analyzed the opportunity for a broadband program and applied for federal funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Cloverland continues to investigate the possibility of a cooperative broadband system.
- Executive transition – Aaron Wallin’s departure in September allowed us to restructure the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and power marketing role. I am pleased to name Lisa Castilho as Cloverland’s next CFO. With change comes opportunity and I look forward to working with Lisa to continue strengthening our financial structure.
- Charitable giving – Our non-profit entity, Cloverland Cares, officially launched with the mission to support E.U.P. food banks and scholarships to benefit our members seeking advanced education at E.U.P. schools. We received a $10,000 grant through CoBank and will continue to generate funds through members who opt-in to round up their bills each month. If you wish to contribute, I invite you join our efforts to give back to the communities we serve by opting-in to Cloverland Cares.
- Co-op family – Finally, I am proud of the way our staff of 115 employees in five divisions across the Eastern Upper Peninsula continually adapted throughout the pandemic. Although our work circumstances shifted with necessary precautions to keep everyone healthy, we remained steadfast in our goal to provide our members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity.
2020 has been a remarkable year in many respects. Regardless of the great uncertainty imposed by the pandemic, as an essential workforce, we remain committed to keeping you powered through a historical year.
Wishing all Cloverland members a safe and healthy holiday season!