Three employees were recognized during Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative’s 76th Annual Membership Meeting March 23. Kenne Dailie, apprentice electrician for 10 years; Brandon Schmieg,... Dailie, Schmieg, and Schuchard Honored at WVEC Annual Meeting

Three employees were recognized during Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative’s 76th Annual Membership Meeting March 23. Kenne Dailie, apprentice electrician for 10 years; Brandon Schmieg, journeyman lineman for 10 years; and Jessica Schuchard, administrative aid for 5 years were the honorees.

Following an election, three members of the board of directors retained their positions. Jodi Hook, District 1 representative, and Bill Tostenson of District 5 were uncontested and will serve another three-year term. Dale Jensen of District 2 was challenged by Kent Frerichs of Wilmot. Jensen won the election and will also serve another three years. Other members on the board include: Darren Strasser, District 3; Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker, District 8; Tom Berens, District 4; Scott Niedert, District 6; Joel Adler, District 7; and Paul Nelson, District 9.

Neil Pauli was the winner of the $500 grand prize. Braelynn Eischens and Lucas Johnson were the winners of the children’s bikes.
Whetstone Valley Electric General Manager Dave Page presented the annual report and a recap of 2016. According to Page, energy sales started slow but usage increased with warmer weather and a dry mid-summer. By July and throughout the remainder of the year, overall energy usage was up about 5% from the previous year. “The most significant increases were realized in the commercial and industrial sectors,” he noted.

Page went on to highlight the Christmas Day ice storm that effected the entire county. “The storm brought a significant amount of rain that accumulated two to four inches of ice on power lines and poles. Winds exceeding 50 mph and the added weight of the ice damaged more than 300 of Whetstone’s distribution poles.” Hundreds of transmission structures of East River Electric and Western Area Power Administration were also damaged. Six substations serving the Whetstone Valley lost power. “We are working to secure FEMA grants to help offset our cost of restoration estimated at about $890,000,” he stated.

Rates remained stable in 2016 despite a rare mid-year rate increase of approximately $7 million on August 1 by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. “East River Electric Power Cooperative was in a strong and strategic economic position to absorb much of the impact from that increase,” Page said. “In addition, we were able to keep operation and maintenance expenses below budget and meet the minimum revenue requirements called for by our lenders.”

Page outlined the impact of the Basin rate increase for members in 2017. “Now experiencing the full impact of that increase, Whetstone’s budgeted cost for wholesale power for 2017 is about 8 percent over that of 2016.” He said wholesale power is about 60 percent of the cooperative’s total operating costs and continues to be the driving factor of its rates. “In order to meet our obligations and maintain financial stability, it became necessary to adjust our rates to produce an increase in revenue of about 8 percent.” Page concluded by giving various statistics of the work the cooperative performed over the past year. “We provide maintenance to 1,500 miles of power line that supplies our members. We replaced over 30 miles of line in 2016 which is approximately $1.5 million of the budgeted expenses.” He went on to say that the member services department responded to nearly 800 requests to provide electrical wiring, heating and air-conditioning services.”

Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker presented the Treasurer’s Report. Her report stated 2016 revenues were $9,278,123 and total expenses were $8,907,868. Total margins were $1,046,375. The cooperative’s balance sheet showed assets of $29,857,467, liabilities of $19,984,567, and equity of $9,872,900. Capital credits paid to members were $173,747.

Other employees of Whetstone Valley Electric include: Gail Barlund, Audra Johnson, Steph Trevett, Roger Raddatz, Marie Loutsch, Mark Weber, Jack Hoeke, Mike Trapp, Chad Pollock, Alex Pauli, Jon Christensen, Gene Sass, Eric Pederson, Brian Davis, Matt Behlings, Jason Soward, and Ryan Dunnihoo.

Photo identification:
Employee awards – Jessica Schuchard and Kenne Dailie. Not pictured is Brandon Schmieg.

Board of Directors – (l. to r.) Dale Jensen, Bill Tostenson, Darren Strasser, and Paul Nelson. Front row: Tom Berens, Scott Niedert, Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker, and Joel Adler. Not pictured is Jodi Hook.

Board of Directors President Bill Tostenson presents the $500 cash grand prize to Neil Pauli.

Girls bike winner – Braelynn Eischens.

Staff Writer

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