Before an audience that filled the auditorium here for the 76th annual membership meeting, General Manager Rob Walker and President Frankie King reported Thursday about the member-owned utility’s continuing strength. (King’s address will be covered in an upcoming issue.)
The meeting marked the reopening of Upshur Rural’s auditorium, which had sustained severe damage from high winds and rain last May.
More than 300 registered to attend the meeting, nearly twice the 150 required for a quorum.
Members also reelected by acclamation three incumbent directors who were unchallenged.
•District 1, Frankie B. King
• District 2, J. Don Beard
• District 3, J.D. McKnight
Walker’s report covered operations in 2013.
He said that the co-op constructed 35 miles of new line in the 10 counties in which Upshur-Rural operates. This was to connect 951 new customers (or members).
“At the end of 2013, there were 45,054 accounts billed on 56,191 services for an annual billing of $87,791,771,” Walker added.
“There were 290 miles of transmission line and 5,934 miles of overhead distribution line and 273 miles of underground distribution line.”
Walker said that the combined total of line equals 6,497 miles.
He said that the total plant investment is $179,930,051.
There were 900,497,567 kilowatt hours sold in 2013, compared to 853,143,652 the year before, an increase of 5.6 percent.
“The previous year’s KWH sales had shrunk 8.5 percent over 2011,” Walker said. “The main driver for sales this year is the weather.”
Capital credits were allocated from 2013 margins to each member’s account using a factor of 8.02 percent on residential accounts.
“The cooperative’s equity position was 66.11 percent at the end of 2013,” Walker said. “This is a strong position to be in and allows your board of directors to analyze the financial position regarding the retirement of capital credits.”
He said that after bankers’ permissions were received, the board directed a retirement of capital credits of about 2 percent, or about $2,158,860.
“Now retiring capital credits is a juggling act where you balance the cost of borrowing money, paying for ever increasing costs of operations such gasoline and diesel and materials and payroll and maintaining reasonable rates,” Walker said. “Because your electric system belongs to you, the member, and one way your ownership is reflected is through capital credits earned—that being the credit or in other words the amount of what’s left over after the cooperative pays all its expenses.
“This is different from the other stock-driven utilities that return the excess only to stockholders invested in the company instead of the users.
“This retirement, as the ones in the past 27 years, has been no easy task, after the cooperative pays all its expenses,” he said, “but due to the action of your board of directors and the employees of the cooperative operating an efficient organization, it was done again this year.”
At the year’s end, there were 87 full-time employees. The co-op is currently at 93. Those employees worked 183,287 hours of regular time and 22,179 hours of overtime for a total payroll of $5,330,272.