Annual Members’ Meeting

SMECO is a cooperative that is owned and governed by its customer-members. Each year the Co-op holds an election for members of the Board of Directors and any proposed bylaw changes. Each customer-member gets one vote regardless of the number of SMECO accounts held in the customer’s name.

2017 Annual Meeting:

Read the results of the meeting held on August 23.

Prize drawing winners:

Annual Meeting ballots were mailed July 21. Every weekday from August 1 through August 16, we selected five lucky winners who each received a $50 bill credit. Check the list of winners.

2016 Annual Meeting Minutes:

Below are the minutes from the 2016 Annual Meeting, approved at the 2017 meeting held on August 23.


The 78th Annual Members’ Meeting of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) was held on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Regency Furniture Stadium, 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf, Maryland 20602.

Welcome:  Richard A. Winkler, Chairman of the Board of Directors, welcomed attendees to the SMECO 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting at 7:00 p.m. and thanked members for attending.  Chairman Winkler recognized the College of Southern Maryland Jazz Ensemble, which provided the entertainment, emcee Joe Lehan, the Blue Crabs organization, and all of the co-op employees who worked so hard to make this event run smoothly.

Special Guests and Exhibitors:  Elected officials attending SMECO’s 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting were recognized, as well as industry-related guests.  On behalf of SMECO, Chairman Winkler thanked the organizations that displayed exhibits at the meeting (the Action Committee for Rural Electrification, SMECO 24/7 – iFactor, and Smart Meters – Sensus).  Chairman Winkler also thanked the Charles County Volunteer Rescue Squad for their services.

Attendees were asked to stand for the invocation, which was provided by Reverend Mariann Babnis, interim rector of Christ Church in Port Republic, Maryland, followed by the presentation of colors by the Gwynn Park High School Air Force Junior ROTC, and singing of the national anthem by the Southern Mix Chorus.

Call to Order:  Chairman Winkler called the Annual Meeting to order at 7:07 p.m.

Introduction of Meeting Chairman:  Chairman Winkler introduced the Annual Meeting Chairman, J. Ernest (Ernie) Bell, II, of Leonardtown, Maryland.  It was noted Mr. Bell has chaired SMECO’s Annual Members’ Meetings since 1999, and Chairman Winkler recognized Mr. Bell for his continued support of the Cooperative.  Mr. Bell, a lifelong resident of St. Mary’s County, practices law and has been active in politics (former member of the Maryland House of Delegates) and civic organizations throughout his life.

Credentials and Election Committee:  Mr. Bell reported that in accordance with Article III, Section 3.05 of the SMECO Bylaws, the Board of Directors appointed a Credentials and Election Committee.  Mr. Bell reported the Credentials and Election Committee has the responsibility to pass on all questions that may arise with respect to the registration of members, to monitor the tallying of all ballots cast in any election, and to rule on any ballots irregularly marked.  The Credentials and Election Committee’s decision on all such matters shall be final.  The following 2016 Credentials and Election Committee members were in attendance at SMECO’s 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting:

Calvert County

  • Guy H. Hall

Charles County

  • George Heinze
  • Jerome Short
  • Dorothea H. Smith
  • James A. Wheeler

Prince George’s County

  • Viola G. Lee

St. Mary’s County

  • F. Elliott Burch, Jr.
  • W. Edelen Gough, Jr.
  • Theresa S. Nowlin

Notice of Annual Members’ Meeting:  Kenneth L. Dyson, Secretary-Treasurer, was called upon to read the Notice of the 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting.  Secretary-Treasurer Dyson reported that he duly certifies that the notice of the 2016 Annual Meeting of Members, along with member identification postcards, were printed and mailed to all members of record.  Notification was received from the United States Postal Service in Waldorf, Maryland that 133,476 notices were mailed in July, 2016.

Introduction of Board Candidates:  In accordance with Article IV, Section 4.03 of the Bylaws, Mr. Bell advised the 2016 SMECO Nominating Committee met on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at SMECO’s Executive Building, Hughesville, Maryland, and nominated candidates for Board of Directors.  Mr. Bell introduced the following Board candidates:

  • Calvert County –W. Michael Phipps;
  • Charles County – Gilbert O. Bowling, Vernecia C. Smith, Richard A. Winkler;
  • Prince George’s County – James A. Richards;
  • St. Mary’s County – Scott White

Mr. Bell thanked all nominees for their interest and participation in the SMECO Board election process. 

Proposed Bylaw Changes:  Mr. Bell advised that in addition to the election of Directors, SMECO members voted for or against changes to the following Bylaws:

  • Article III, Section 3.01          Annual Meeting
  • Article III, Section 3.02          Special Meetings
  • Article III, Section 3.03          Notice of Members’ Meetings
  • Article III, Section 3.04          Quorum
  • Article III, Section 3.05          Credentials and Election Committee
  • Article III, Section 3.06          Voting
  • Article III, Section 3.06.01     Ballots
  • Article III, Section 3.07          Order of Business
  • Article III, Section 3.08          Motions

Reading of Minutes:  Kenneth L. Dyson, Secretary-Treasurer, was called upon to read the minutes of the September 2, 2015, Annual Members’ Meeting.  There was a motion made, seconded, and carried to dispense with the reading of the minutes of the 2015 Annual Members’ Meeting and the minutes were approved as written.

Introduction of President & CEO:  Mr. Bell introduced Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

President’s Remarks:  President & CEO Slater welcomed members attending the 78th Annual Members’ Meeting. He then introduced Megan Mattei, a senior at Leonardtown High School, who was the guest speaker. Ms. Mattei will serve as Maryland’s Youth Leadership representative at the 2017 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. 

Guest Speaker – Megan Mattei:  Ms. Mattei expressed her appreciation to SMECO for the opportunity to participate on the 2016 NRECA Youth Leadership Council and described her experience working with other Youth Leadership participants and becoming more knowledgeable about the impact cooperatives have across the country and around the world.

Remarks by President & CEO Austin J. Slater, Jr. – President & CEO Slater addressed the members and provided updates on the following areas:

  • Automated Metering Infrastructure “Smart Meter” program
  • SMECO Solar and Community Solar
  • SMECO Sustainability Position Paper
  • Bylaw Change affecting future SMECO Annual Members’ Meetings

On behalf of the Board of Directors and employees, President & CEO Slater thanked the customer-members for attending SMECO’s 78th Annual Members’ Meeting.

Old Business:  Mr. Bell called for any old or unfinished business.  There being none, he called for any new business.

New Business:  Mr. Bell called for any new business.  There was none.

2015 Annual Report:  Mr. Bell stated the official reports of the Chairman, President & CEO, and Secretary-Treasurer for 2015 were included in the May 2016 Annual Report issue of the Cooperative Review.

Questions:  Mr. Bell called for any questions from the membership. 

Meeting Minutes – Francis Holmes, Accokeek, Maryland expressed concern about how the new format of the SMECO Annual Meeting will affect members’ ability to review the meeting minutes. Mr. Holmes suggested that the minutes of the previous annual meeting be included in the mailing of the registration and the ballots for the current annual meeting. CEO Slater emphasized that under the new format for the SMECO Annual Members’ Meeting, there will be a business meeting after members have received notice, and will be invited to attend and share any concerns they wish.

Smart Meters – An unidentified member shared a question regarding the compatibility of the smart meter installed at her residence and her solar panels. CEO Slater commented that SMECO’s Smart Meters are “solar enabled” and can take the reverse meter reading and the consumption meter reading. David Johnson, SMECO’s Automation/Meter Operations Manager, was on hand to address her concerns directly.

Community Solar – An unidentified member from Calvert County questioned whether SMECO will participate in the pilot program for Community Solar. CEO Slater advised that SMECO supported the legislation that the General Assembly adopted at the past session for a Community Solar pilot project. This is a three–year pilot project to ascertain how the program works, the proposed rules and the best way to move forward. SMECO supported this legislation, which included provisions for the Community Solar pricing. When the legislation was taken to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), the Commission proposed pricing that SMECO felt was inappropriate, too high, and would cause cross-subsidization from non-solar users to solar users. CEO Slater shared that SMECO feels that the Commission’s rules have violated federal law, provisions of the Federal Power Act, and the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act that provide the pricing formula for wholesale and retail sales. CEO Slater advised that although SMECO is anxious to offer Community Solar to our customers, we will take the time necessary to ensure that the pricing is done correctly and is equitable across all customer classes.

Community Solar – An unidentified member expressed concern on the tangible and intangible costs of continued use of fossil fuels/pollution. She asked SMECO to support Maryland Community Solar and wind power.  CEO Slater stated that SMECO supports Community Solar and renewable energy resources; SMECO has multiple wind contracts in Pennsylvania and Western Maryland.

Community Solar – Bill Pyle, Calvert County, remarked on many of the benefits of Community Solar and requested that SMECO keep members apprised of the developments so that they can move forward quickly when given the opportunity to participate in Community Solar. CEO Slater stated that the cooperative will keep the membership informed as new developments unfold.

Proposed Bylaw Change – An unidentified customer expressed concern on the transition of the traditional SMECO Annual Members’ Meeting format to a business meeting format. CEO Slater shared that Maryland electric cooperative, Choptank Electric Cooperative, has successfully adopted a similar model for conducting annual members’ meetings, and remarked that customers still attend and exercise their democratic rights.

Thank you – Ms. N. Ferrara, Charles County, thanked SMECO for restoring the power at her residence during a power outage.

Annual Meeting Costs - Peggy Bowles, Charles County, asked for clarification on the cost savings resulting from transitioning the current SMECO Annual Members’ Meeting to a business meeting format. CEO Slater advised that the costs for mailing the Annual Meeting material will still be incurred due to the required mailing of the Annual Meeting notice. In the future, the mailing will also contain a ballot that members can return by U.S. Mail. CEO Slater also advised that the cooperative and its members will save on the expenses incurred for holding the meeting, such as renting the stadium, refreshments, and labor, which total over $87,000.

Thank you – Bernie Owens, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, thanked SMECO for its continued support of the veterans. Mr. Owens commented on the system improvements and services SMECO offered. Mr. Owens also remarked on tornado damage at his personal property in Golden Beach and thanked SMECO for quickly restoring his power. CEO Slater thanked Mr. Owens for his years of service working with the veterans.

Heating and Cooling Rebates – Chad Austin questioned the future of these programs.  CEO Slater clarified that SMECO embraces EmPOWER Maryland and the benefits it creates, and although it has budget constraints with the Maryland Public Service Commission, SMECO has the best record for the EmPOWER Maryland Program. Jeff Shaw, Distributed Energy & Sustainability Vice President was on hand to address Mr. Austin’s concerns directly.

Prize Drawing:  The prize drawing for 50 registration prizes (fifty $50 electric bill credits) was held.  Mr. Bell advised registered members did not have to be present to claim the registration prizes.  The names of the winners of 50 registration prizes were announced. 

Quorum:  Mr. Bell called attention to Article III, Section 3.04, of the SMECO Bylaws stating that 500 members must be registered to constitute a quorum, and announced there was a quorum present of more than 500 members registered.

Results of Proposed Bylaw Amendments – Mr. Bell announced that all the proposed bylaw changes passed, with 637 votes in favor and 120 opposed. 

Election of Directors:  Mr. Bell announced that 882 members registered, noting 140 mail-in ballots.  The results of the election for the Board of Directors were as follows:

  • Calvert County –W. Michael Phipps = 754
  • Charles County – Gilbert O. Bowling = 646, Vernecia C. Smith = 263, Richard A. Winkler = 625
  • Prince George’s County – James A. Richards = 729
  • St. Mary’s County –  Scott White = 750

Directors Phipps, Bowling, Winkler, Richards, and White were re-elected to serve three-year terms on the SMECO Board of Directors.

Grand Prizes:  Mr. Bell advised all members who registered are eligible to win one of the grand prizes.  Members must be present to win a grand prize; therefore, names of registered members will continue to be drawn until all grand prizes are claimed.  The grand prize drawings were held and the following fifteen (15) winners were announced:

  • Winners of $100 cash attendance prizes from Charles County: Betty Brooks, Tina Ford, Leonard Lentz, JoAnn Duckett, Mary Adler, Paula Adair, Samuel Nelson, Kenneth Gage, Andrew Lewis III, and Everett Gantt.
  • Winner of $100 cash attendance prize from Calvert County: Carolyn Cunningham (representing South Gate Home Owners Association) and Richard Morin.
  • Winner of $100 cash attendance prize from Prince George’s County: John Richards.
  • Winners of $100 cash attendance prizes from St. Mary’s County: James Bowling III and Robert Cross.
  • SMECO Used Vehicle: Derrick Berry of Mechanicsville, Maryland

Adjournment:  There being no further business, the 2016 Annual Members’ Meeting was adjourned at 8:23 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Kenneth L. Dyson

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