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Nearly 400 attend Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op Annual Meeting
Cheesecake, tree seedling giveaways, a business update, and the chatter of member fellowship — all things present at Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op’s (PPEC) 82nd Annual Meeting on Saturday, March 16. In a conversational style, Board Chairman Dr. John Saxton and President and CEO George Carter reflected on 2018 and discussed plans for years to come.
“The team here has done a great job: increased electric reliability, exceeded budget goals for margins, had the largest capital credit retirement in history, and the most important milestone: two years without a lost-time accident,” Saxton said. “That’s impressive.”
Carter elaborated on PPEC employees’ dedication to “living the safety culture,” describing the co-op’s high marks in Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives’ statewide Safety Achievement Program, exceeding PPEC’s last score from three years ago. He went on to explain that over the past several years, the co-op has made great progress in member satisfaction and outage times, as well as maintaining competitive rates despite 2018’s slight rate increase.
“We’re investing about $27 million back into our electric system for reliability efforts over the next four years,” Carter said. “This past year, our members’ average outage time was 64 minutes — a slight improvement from last year. This ranks us near the top among our peers, and much credit goes to our linemen out there restoring power in all conditions and our inside employees who are often overlooked in the restoration process.”
Both Carter and Saxton broke down the co-op’s Construction Work Plan, laying out projects for 2019 and beyond, including a new right-of-way maintenance program, continuing to reduce line loss, and upgrading two substations for future growth and reliability — Cecil substation in Cecil, Ohio, and the Herb Monroe substation in New Haven, Indiana — as well as replacing the main power lines coming into Paulding, improving reliability to Rite Aid, Circle K, and the members in that area of town. The Cecil substation upgrade will also increase reliability to North American Stamping Company, formerly Alex Products.
“Line loss is simply the difference between the amount of power we purchase and the amount we sell,” Carter said. “This past year, we saw line loss drop nearly 1 percent from the prior year, which equals about a quarter of a million dollars in savings.”
After Saxton asked about PPEC’s all-in-one account management system and mobile app, SmartHub, Carter showcased all the things members can do within the app: pay bills, set up recurring payments, monitor electric use, report outages with the click of a button, view the outage map, and set up text alerts.
“SmartHub is a very powerful tool available to all our members on their smart phones or other devices,” Carter said.
During the meeting, Saxton also highlighted PPEC’s dedication to cost-effective practices and one of its Seven Cooperative Principles, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, by introducing the co-op’s newest shared service employee, Samantha Kuhn, who performs shared communication and marketing services for PPEC and three other NW Ohio cooperatives.
“We can have high-quality employees because the cost is shared by more than one cooperative,” Saxton said. “Paulding Putnam could not hire an employee with Samantha’s skills; however, by sharing her talents with neighboring cooperatives, we can all afford to have someone like her on the team.
Carter took a moment to also recognize PPEC’s #WhoPowersYou contest third-place winner, Ronnie Kahle of Kalida, Ohio, who has raised more than $5 million toward Kalida’s area parks. #WhoPowersYou is in partnership with America’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and is a national contest to promote volunteerism and celebrate local heroes making a difference. Kahle, who is 82 years old, won $1,500 toward continuing his cause.
Carter ended the meeting asking members to mark their calendars for September 28, 2019, at the Paulding County Fairgrounds — PPEC’s Member Appreciation Day, an autumn family fun day with bounce houses, games, and prizes for kids and adults alike.
In other business, attorney Norm Cook reported that William Dowler (District 2), Jay Dangler (District 4), and Steve McMichael (District 5) all ran unopposed and therefore, were re-elected. Following this announcement, the PPEC Board took their oath of office.
Several local high school students were also recognized during the meeting. Emma Crosby of Wayne Trace High School won a spot on Youth Tour, an all-expenses-paid, weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. with around 1,600 cooperative high school students from around the nation, to visit some of the capital’s most famous sites and meet the students’ Congressional representatives. Crosby is the daughter of Chad and Angela Crosby of Payne, Ohio.
Scholarship winners were also recognized:
1st place – $1,000
Alli Hefner of Payne – Wayne Trace High School
Christian Nartker of Ottawa – Kalida High School
2nd place – $800
Lindsey Schnegg of Ottawa – Ottawa Glandorf High School
Grant Laudick of Cloverdale – Kalida High School
3rd place – $600
Derek Luersman of Fort Jennings – Fort Jennings High School
Adam Butzin of Antwerp – Antwerp High School
Elizabeth Westrick of Ottawa – Miller City High School
Christian Nartker will go on to represent PPEC in the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives statewide scholarship competition in Columbus this spring, where a total of $38,200 will be distributed. Nartker has a 4.0 grade-point average, is ranked first in his class, and is the son of Keith and Beth Nartker of Ottawa, Ohio.
Hefner has a 4.0 grade-point average and is ranked first in her class. She is the daughter of Jesse and Lisa Hefner of Payne, Ohio.