In a year of events canceled or changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative annual membership meeting became yet another victim of the virus. And while a technological solution helped us carry on with the business at hand, it was clearly not an ideal replacement for the face-to-face meeting we have come to enjoy as a co-op.
Nearly 200 members took part in this year’s virtual meeting on October 8, compared to almost 800 members and guests at the annual meeting in 2019.
TVEC General Manager/CEO Jeff Lane noted this year’s challenges during his remarks to the membership.
“Despite the difficulties of the year, I can’t tell you enough about how well your employees here at the co-op have risen to the challenge of 2020. Our No. 1 goal has been to safeguard the health and well-being of TVEC members and staff while maintaining a high level of service and reliability,” he said. “We have made massive changes to the way our people work, train and interact, with the end result of minimal impact to our operations.”
Lane also noted that, even with the economic impact of the pandemic, the population growth in TVEC’s service area has continued at a rapid pace.
“Our service territory is primarily rural, but the tremendous growth in our state, and the DFW Metroplex in particular, has meant significant residential development in our area. In 2019 we added 1,953 meters, which is a 2.3% increase,” he said. “We also added 97 miles of line, with a 4.1% increase in plant, putting us at just over $397 million in total utility plant at the end of the year. And for comparison—despite the pandemic—for 2020 we have already topped the growth in meters with 2,103 added through the end of August, representing a 3% increase. We’ve also added 56 miles of line and $12.6 million in total utility plant.”
The growth may be ongoing, but Lane also noted that the pandemic’s negative economic impact was certainly felt by some TVEC members, and he was proud of the co-op’s response to help members in need.
“Along with our focus on maintaining the key mission of delivering reliable electric service, we’ve also been able to assist members facing financial hardships in this time of crisis,” Lane said. “In mid-March, we stopped disconnecting power and charging late fees for nonpayment. The TVEC Charitable Foundation has also provided more than $40,000 in funding for bill-payment assistance to TVEC members. This funding was made possible by your generous donations to Operation Round Up, so we thank you for your participation in that program. Now, as we resume our normal billing and payment procedures, we are making every effort to assist our members in need.”
Members viewing the virtual meeting also heard a report on the co-op’s finances from Kacey Gast, a partner with the auditing firm Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert & Moss.
“Your annual audit is required by the co-ops lenders and the co-op’s bylaws,” Gast said. “Your net margin ended up being very comparable to last year. The co-op retired about $5 million in capital credits and produced positive cash flow from operations. Overall the cooperative appears to be in good financial condition, and we did not have any findings to report.”
Kenneth Von Tungeln of Calvetti Ferguson was on hand to report the results of the 2020 TVEC Board of Directors election. In District 1, incumbent board member Carolyn Minor retained her seat, with 1,666 votes. Ronda Jones received 380 votes, and there were four write-in votes.
In districts 4 and 5, incumbents Jo Ann Hanstrom and Ed Reeve were unopposed on the ballot and were reelected their seats. The full election results, including write-in candidates and vote totals is available on tvec.net.
The meeting may have been virtual, but Lane noted that the co-op’s history and resilience give it a great footing to carry on when 2020’s dramatic events are just a memory.
“Co-ops started as a community project, and we still have that spirit today,” he said. “Friends and neighbors working to provide a service that is even more necessary and essential today than it was 82 years ago, when this thing got started. Thank you, and I hope to see you all next year in person.”