SEC Holds Annual Meeting
Southside Electric Cooperative is a member-first organization that works with a safety-first mindset. This was the clear message conveyed by Board Chair Dr. Frank Bacon and newly appointed President & CEO Jason Loehr in the 85th Annual Meeting, held Sept. 24 at Hooper Park in Crewe.
In balloting that began with proxy voting on Sept. 1 and concluded with in-person voting at the Annual Meeting, members reelected three incumbents to the nine-member Board of Directors, William T. White, Dr. Earl C. Currin Jr. and Charles J. Friedl. They will serve three-year terms. Election results were tallied by Survey and Ballots System, a national election management company.
In the only contested election, incumbent White collected 83.9% of the votes cast to retain his seat. Challenger Rodney Moon received 16.1%.
“Since we last met, our Southside Electric Cooperative team has been working very hard and, more importantly, safely for the member-owners in keeping the power flowing reliably and affordably,” Bacon said.
“We have continued healing from the record-setting ice storm,” continued Bacon. “The total cost to SEC as a result of this ice storm will have amounted to approximately $25 million, 10 times more than any storm in our history. In a massive effort to keep this storm from impacting the electric rates, the SEC team worked collaboratively and received approval from FEMA for reimbursement for up to 90% of these costs.”
Turning to SEC’s ongoing work to support its communities, Bacon said the Cooperative continues its leadership role with Southside Virginia Community College’s Power Line Worker Training School. He said the school has graduated more than 400 “and has given job opportunities to many young men and women in our neighborhoods.
“The SEC team also continues to support higher education for the youth in Southside Virginia. The Southside Opportunity Fund awarded 27 more scholarships amounting to $33,000. Since inception, the fund has awarded a total of 141 scholarships amounting to $163,000, all of which were awarded to students in Southside Virginia.”
In Bacon’s remarks, he also noted that the Board of Directors approved a $2.75 million capital credits retirement for this year, which is a 10% increase from the last year. Checks and bill credits for active and former members will be distributed in December. He added that SEC has returned in excess of $68 million in capital credits to member-owners in the last 39 years.
Loehr commented, “SEC is financially healthy.” Loehr said the Cooperative has more than 58,000 active services, $395 million in infrastructure investment and more than 8,400 miles of line stretching over 15,000 square miles of service territory. He added that SEC’s balance sheet is strong, which gives the Board of Directors confidence in staying committed to its industry-leading practice of returning capital back to its member-owners.
“SEC has invested a lot into its electric infrastructure over the last year. We also understand the frustration when power outages occur, and every employee is focused on identifying and implementing cost-effective solutions that will improve the reliability of the service we provide to you.
“We understand that trees are our leading cause for outages, and we have invested more dollars into our vegetation program over the last year than ever before, including more aerial tree trimming,” continued Loehr. “This resulted in over 1,100 miles of trimming and almost 10,000 hazard trees removed.”
In reference to higher energy costs, rising commodity prices and shortages of labor and materials, Loehr told members that “the entire SEC team is working tirelessly to find ways to mitigate those risks.”
Loehr talked about the future of the electric industry and how SEC and its member-owners are impacted. Advancements in technology, changes in workforce and decarbonization are transforming our business, and the SEC team is ready to take advantage of opportunities and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
“We are going to be there every step of the way for our member-owners.
“Team SEC is committed to improving the experience of the SEC member-owners and to become your number one trusted partner when it comes to power solutions, and we understand that starts with a pursuit to build trust, reconnect and strengthen relationships with Southside Virginia,” Loehr concluded.
Southside Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit, member-owned electric distribution company, has more than 58,400 active services across 18 counties in central and southern Virginia. Headquartered in Crewe, SEC has district offices in Altavista, Crewe, Dinwiddie and Powhatan. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.