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Medina EC News

Challenges Strengthen Your Cooperative

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Message From Board President Kenneth White

It is an honor to have been elected president of the Medina Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, and I appreciate the support and cooperation of the board and the staff.

We are living in some very different times to say the least and with that comes many different challenges. When we think back to 1938, when local people went door to door to form the first cooperatives, I imagine they felt they were living in very different times and were facing many challenges as well.

In 2020, we were faced with COVID-19 and living with many different guidelines that seemed to be changing daily. It affected all of us in many ways and, as we always do, we adapted to a new way of doing things. We were looking forward to 2021 and better times ahead. Things were progressing, then the February storm hit Texas. It, too, was unprecedented and presented a great number of challenges for our members, employees, the ERCOT market and participants in the electric industry across the state. I know that event was very difficult for all. I commend the employees of Medina Electric who braved the harsh elements and worked tirelessly to restore power to the membership. Many of these employees left their own homes and families alone without electricity or running water. Once again, we adapted and made it through very difficult and challenging times.

We were then especially looking forward to springtime after dealing with the polar vortex. Spring had the potential to bring warmer weather, wildflowers, some welcome rain and the subsiding of the pandemic. If you have lived in Texas long enough, you well know that springtime is beautiful but can also bring some disastrous hail, rain and windstorms. In 2021, our entire service area experienced those exact things as many storms blew through. Once again, many members and employees experienced major damage to their homes and property. Parts of Medina EC’s electric distribution system were left damaged, as was South Texas Electric Cooperative’s, who Medina Electric purchases power from, causing major outages for the membership. Once again employees worked as fast as safely possible to restore service to all members. There is an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The past two years have been extremely tough and cooperative members, being the tough individuals they are, did what cooperative members do: They jumped right in and helped each other any way they could. We have heard numerous stories of members helping each other out during all these trials; you are to be commended for your efforts.

Medina EC had 39,138 service locations to maintain as of December 2020. This includes idle services, where the cooperative still has equipment and poles but there is not an active meter at this time. The cooperative has one of the largest service areas in the state, serving 10,750 square miles in 17 South Texas counties. Over 62 miles of new distribution lines were added in 2020, bringing the total to over 9,760 miles of line to be maintained. We are fortunate to be a cooperative that is experiencing growth, but with growth comes challenges. The board of directors is committed to ensuring the cooperative continues providing the most reliable service at the most affordable price to you, the member-owners.

People sometimes ask, “What is the benefit of being a cooperative member?” One of the benefits is the cooperative returns capital credits to members. The Medina EC Board of Directors approved the return of $2 million to members in 2020, and the cooperative has returned a total of $33 million to members since its inception.

Due to the pandemic, we did not have an annual membership meeting in 2020, but plans have been made for this year’s meeting in Uvalde on September 25. There will be an online option for members who wish to participate virtually. Either way you choose to attend, we look forward to seeing you there!

Message From CEO Mark Rollans

The financial details in this report are for 2020, when things in the world shifted to masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing.

In mid-March, COVID-19 arrived in a way that felt quite sudden to many. As a business, we were forced to make changes very quickly. Employees adapted to new ways of working—some from home, some from individual vehicles instead of shared transportation to job sites—and members adapted to new ways of doing business—utilizing more online payment options and applications. We made every change possible to ensure employees and members were kept safe.

As we dealt with COVID-19, other challenges did not pause. Crews dealt with substantial Memorial Day storms and Hurricane Hanna, in addition to outages caused by animals, vehicle accidents and more.

Our mission is to exceed member expectations in everything we do, and we kept that at the forefront of all our decisions in 2020, as we always have. Throughout all the unknowns, your cooperative has maintained financial stability and implemented new technologies to help us continue our mission in the future.

So far, 2021 has also brought challenges to members and staff, with the February storm, issues on the ERCOT grid hampering Medina EC’s ability to deliver electricity to our members and weather that has been worse than we have seen in recent years.

The board is currently in the process of selecting a new CEO, as I will retire at the end of this year. After 37 years in the business, I am ready to close my computer and start a new chapter in life.

As we get ready for 2022, I know there will be additional challenges—there always are—but I know that the staff and processes in place will allow your cooperative to continue to serve you and work to exceed your expectations. I hope you all stay healthy and happy.