Like most cooperatives with a spring Annual Meeting of the Members, Cloverland Electric transitioned to a virtual meeting this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to provide the highlights that CFO and Director of Power Marketing and Regulatory Affairs, Aaron Wallin, and I shared with our members in our June 4 Virtual Annual Meeting of the Members:
- Despite seven storms that classified as major events in 2019, our cooperative’s financial performance grew stronger. Our equity ratio improved to nearly 23% (closer to the target equity ratio of 27.5% set in our 2018 strategic planning) which gives us greater capacity to borrow money for capital expenditures with less interest. Financial health is critical to our cooperative for debt/creditworthiness and credit support towards power supply. In 2019, we also reduced outstanding debt by $7.2 million and accumulated no new debt. We have managed our finances to generate one of the best years in Cloverland’s history – without raising rates.
- In 2019, Cloverland employees achieved zero lost-time injuries nor any OSHA recordable injuries, even through a series of storms that wreaked havoc across our E.U.P. service territory.
- In accordance with our 2019 strategic vision, we looked inward to improve our cooperative with a review of our power supply, assessed generation opportunities, implemented purchasing policies for better control, and created a sustainable way to pay out capital credits. Looking outward, we added a new key accounts specialist role for greater focus on our key accounts and economic development opportunities for our area. To this end, we are currently researching the potential to bring broadband access to our service territory.
- Cloverland has been participating in statewide electric utility activities to ensure safe, reliable service throughout the pandemic. To ensure reliable service and further assist our members, we reviewed our mutual aid contracts, looked for funding opportunities, launched Cloverland Cares as a charitable non-profit, and extended the disconnect date for non-payment.
- To improve operational efficiency and reliability, we initiated 2020 studies for our vegetation management program, hydro facility, and a SCADA system review.
- Our 2020 strategic vision continues to focus on assessing our power supply options and exploring generation opportunities that provide significant financial and reliability benefits.
Although the pandemic temporarily shifted our priorities, it has not disrupted our momentum to seek new opportunities while growing our U.P. partnerships and initiatives. I look forward to keeping our members updated on all of these exciting initiatives for our cooperative.
Michael (Mike) Heise