OPALCO rebuttal to MacLeod’s column | Guest column

OPALCO rebuttal to MacLeod’s column | Guest column

Submitted by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative

Despite Mr. MacLeod’s repeated attempts to shade OPALCO’s reputation, OPALCO remains in a strong and healthy financial position — even as we stretch to provide COVID-19 relief to our residential and commercial members and preserve 50 jobs in San Juan County.

OPALCO members can get the facts for themselves on compensation, Rock Island and OPALCO finances: . Hildreth’s compensation package is determined by the Board of Directors through an objective process based on performance and comparison to industry peers, although there are precious few other examples of a Co-op General Manager that is also running an internet service provider company.

“OPALCO and Rock Island play critical roles in San Juan County. Power and broadband communications are essential to our daily lives, our economy – and to a renewable energy future,” commented OPALCO Board President Vince Dauciunas. “Under Hildreth’s leadership, we have modernized our communications power grid, which is the requisite foundation for a carbon-free energy future. We have achieved access to broadband throughout San Juan County. Hildreth has led the Co-op into a sustainable position of strength. OPALCO is the envy of its peers in the industry who are scrambling to prepare for the future. The people of OPALCO and Rock Island are dedicated, skillful professionals, serving the community every day. In my opinion, our General Manager has one of the most important jobs in the County in leading these organizations in their missions.”

The average OPALCO member pays about the United States’ average for their electricity and less than most of the world (see “Rates” Quick Facts) – in dollars – and, in carbon, use significantly less than any of their peers due to the Co-op’s access to the region’s hydro system. Members who struggle to pay their bills receive assistance through a number of OPALCO programs.

The cost of power is rising as we prepare to meet the state mandate for decarbonization to meet the challenges of climate change – and this generation of Co-op member-owners is also shouldering the cost (in debt service) of a $16 million submarine cable replacement. The superpower of an electric co-op is its ability to borrow federal Rural Utility Service funds at very low-interest rates. OPALCO would never jeopardize this critical funding mechanism and keeps its debt to equity ratio well within requirements while meeting the rapidly changing needs of our rural, remote membership.

Co-op members can stay up to speed on OPALCO issues by subscribing to This Electric Life newsletter (www.opalco.com/newsroom/email-newsletter-sign-up), reading the monthly board materials online at www.opalco.com and your monthly bill inserts (paper by mail or a link via SmartHub). Check out our online newsroom for anything you might have missed www.opalco.com/newsroom and our Document Library for financial reports, board materials, governance documents, annual reports member survey results and more: www.opalco.com/resource-library.