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600 attend 80th annual Firelands Electric Cooperative meeting

By Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jul 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM

ASHLAND — More than 600 members and guests attended Firelands Electric Cooperative’s 80th annual meeting for members, held June 23 at the Myers Convocation Center on the campus of Ashland University.

Incumbents Gene Lamoreaux and Rob Turk were reelected to the board of trustees, representing Districts 2 and 7, respectively. John Martin was elected to represent District 9, filling an open seat on the board.

Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) spoke to Firelands Electric members, voicing his support for the Ohio electric cooperative community. Gibbs noted the passage of a farm bill in the House, which prioritizes rural infrastructure and the expansion of broadband internet access.

Board of trustees president Dan Schloemer reflected on a year of change at the cooperative, including the groundbreaking of a new headquarters facility and multiple leadership changes, most notably the hiring of past president Dan McNaull as the cooperative’s new general manager.

“The board was delighted that Dan accepted the position,” Schloemer said. “He brings business and management experience to the co-op, coupled with a perspective gained by many years of being a part of both Firelands Electric and our statewide organizations.”

Schloemer recognized April Bordas, Firelands’ former general manager who retired in February, and former trustees Lowell Kreager and Neil Winslow. Kreager, a trustee for more than 30 years, died in December. Winslow resigned his seat upon moving outside the cooperative’s service territory.

Despite a mild summer and winter causing in a decrease in overall power sales in 2017, Schloemer reported that Firelands received a clean financial bill of health from auditors. As a testament to the cooperative’s financial strength, the Firelands Electric board is retiring $600,000 in capital credits to members from margins earned in 1996 and 1997.

In his first address to members as general manager, McNaull highlighted the cooperative’s prudent investments in system maintenance.

“Even though we can’t control things like animals, trees, weather, transmission lines and automobile drivers with cell phones, we are continuously working to upgrade our distribution system to minimize the effects of these outage instigators,” he said.

Over the past year, Firelands invested $1.86 million into strengthening its system, including the rebuilding of 9.5 miles of lines in Ripley, Greenwich, New Haven, and New London townships.

“These newly rebuilt sections will improve reliability, supply more consistent voltage and accommodate future load growth for members in these areas,” McNaull said.

Despite these sizable maintenance costs, he reported that Firelands members wouldn’t see a rate increase in 2018. McNaull encouraged Firelands members to join ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action, a non-partisan political action committee that supports candidates who represent the interests of electric co-op members.

“It’s vitally important that we support and elect officials who understand our concerns and are committed to representing and serving us,” he said.

Bill Roberts, chief financial officer at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, informed Firelands members of recent changes in the management of its power supply. In March, Buckeye Power, the generation and transmission cooperative that provides Ohio co-ops with power, assumed management control of Cardinal Generating Station from American Electric Power.

The annual meeting concluded with a prize drawing for registered members. Prizes included a Milwaukee cordless tool set, a Kitchen Aid five-quart stand mixer and bill credits ranging from $25 to $100.

Firelands Electric Cooperative, a Touchstone Energy Partner, is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility serving more than 9,100 homes and businesses in rural areas of Ashland, Huron, Lorain and Richland counties ranks among the highest energy utilities in the country for customer satisfaction.

Visit the cooperative website, www.firelandsec.com, its Facebook page and Twitter feed, to learn more about reliable and affordable power. Photos of the 2018 Firelands Electric annual meeting can be viewed on its Flickr page, www.flickr.com/photos/firelandsec/albums.

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