The following was submitted by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative.
OPALCO members boarded the ferry on Saturday, May 6th to participate in the 2017 Annual Meeting and learn the results of the Board of Directors’ election. Voter participation was lower than 2016 with 1,992 total ballots (1,114 online, 878 by mail) representing about 17% of the membership. The successful candidates were Vince Dauciunas and Mark Madsen. Guests joined the 173 members present aboard the WSF Yakima for a total of 269 people in attendance.
Doug Marshall, Chair of the new member Elections and Governance Committee announced the election results and encouraged members to join the EGC. There are still four open positions: three for San Juan Island and surrounding outer islands; and one for Shaw Island. The new election process was smooth and member feedback has been positive.
Vote Counts (each member votes for two, top two vote getters win):
Dauciunas: 1,467 (74%)
Madsen: 1,339 (67%)
Severson: 901 (45%)
OPALCO members enjoyed a bag lunch prepared by Avenue Catering of Burlington. In celebration of OPALCO’s 80th Anniversary, members took home gift bags with LED night lights and other swag. The San Juan Islands Conservation District gave away LED bulbs and there were information booths to learn about Community Solar, the Submarine Cable Replacement Project and Rock Island Communications.
The 2017 Nourdine Jensen Cooperative Youth Scholars were announced and presented with a certificate: Haley Moss and Joanne Mietzner of Orcas High School; Jonathan Doherty of Lopez High School; Zach Fincher and Jayna Ott of Friday Harbor High School. Each will each receive a $1,000 scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Youth Rally Co-op Leadership Camp at the College of Idaho this summer. Friday Harbor High School senior Tenley Nelsen will return to the Youth Rally as a youth director.
Board President Vince Dauciunas shared the OPALCO Board Vision for our future power supply and Foster Hildreth, General Manager gave a brief State of the Co-op update. Dauciunas said, “Our vision as a Board is to provide safe, reliable energy at the lowest possible cost while making smart investments for a sustainable future.” He went on to discuss the rapid change taking place in the utility industry and credited the OPALCO Board back in 1999 for their foresight to begin building a fiber-optic network at the backbone of our electric system. Dauciunas assured the membership that the Board’s vision is driven by the Seven Cooperative Principles, particularly Concern for Community. “In the next two years, we will re-examine our rate structures to make sure we can meet the evolving model of local distributed power and enhance programs for members on fixed incomes and from low-income households. We are here to meet the needs of San Juan County and recognize our role in sustaining quality of life and long-term livability in the islands.”
Hildreth highlighted 2016 accomplishments and recognized the OPALCO team for their hard work and dedication. “We’ve come a long way in three years,” said Hildreth. “This fall, we’ll complete the submarine cable replacement in the Lopez-San Juan crossing, we are in the planning phase of our first big community solar project and our subsidiary, Rock Island Communications is well on it’s way to break-even – expected in mid-2018.”
Hildreth gave kudos to EVP Gerry Lawlor and the team at Rock Island Communications for their progress.
“We have solved the internet crisis in San Juan County – something that seemed an impossible task three years ago. By the end of this year, more than 90 percent of the county will have access to Rock Island broadband and phone services,” he said.
A member question and comment session followed.
The names of eight voting members were drawn for $80 credits on their next OPALCO bills. The lucky winners are Barbara Brown, Orcas; Christene Noll, San Juan; Laura & Paul Roberts, San Juan; Madrona Murphy, Lopez; Mark Cohen & Eleanor Hoague, Orcas; Tom & Kathleen Roosma, Orcas; Anne Pallinger, San Juan; and Penelope Gilde, Lopez.
The door prizes were donated by OPALCO’s vendors and partners and included a $3,000 rebate on a Ductless Heat Pump – donated, in part, by Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC); an Electric Vehicle charger – donated by Ray at Campbell Nissan of Everett; and a number of electronic devices chosen to help members achieve greater efficiency and connectivity: Nest Learning Thermostats, ECHO Dot with Insight Switch, iPad Mini with mobile internet service through Rock Island and Apple TVs. Thanks to OPALCO’s generous vendors and partners for funding these fantastic member door prizes:
• Rock Island Communications
• Cooperative Finance Corp.
• Ray at Campbell Nissan of Everett
• EES Consulting
• General Pacific
• Braaksma Engineering, Inc.
• NW Public Power Assoc.
• Pacific NW Generating Co-op
OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) to hold an annual meeting each year. Members who missed the meeting can read the 2017 Annual Report online (www.opalco.com/annualreport). A limited supply of printed copies are available at your local OPALCO office, as long as supplies lasts.