volume 67 - issue 10 - October 2017
Annual meeting voter participation grows more than 900 percent
SMECO held its 79th Annual Meeting on August 23, 2017, at Middleton Hall in Waldorf. The Board of Directors election was conducted by mail prior to the meeting.
The following SMECO members were elected to serve on SMECO's Board for three years:
Nancy W. Zinn
William L. Purnell
Prince George's County:
Daniel W. Dyer
St. Mary's County:
J. Douglas Frederick
Joseph V. Stone, Jr.
No bylaw amendments were included on this year's ballot.
In 2016, SMECO members voted to amend the bylaw that outlines requirements for meetings and voting, and this year's election was conducted entirely by mail. Nearly 9,500 members voted, and election results were announced at the meeting.
In his remarks, SMECO's president and CEO, Austin J. Slater, Jr., explained that an electric cooperative's customer-members have the ability to vote each year for their representatives who serve on the board. While SMECO has approximately 137,000 members, last year only 882 members registered at the meeting or by absentee mail-in ballot. Nearly 11 times as many members voted in this year's election.
In other matters, Slater said that SMECO is nearing completion of installing smart meters at homes and businesses throughout Southern Maryland. The new meters will improve outage response time, increase efficiency, and save money. A capital credit general refund of $2.85 million was issued to members in July, "just one more advantage our members enjoy by being part of a cooperative," Slater said. In addition, he explained that the cost of power has declined and is now lower than it has been for more than 12 years. SMECO's distribution costs will also be reduced by almost $2 million upon approval of a recent rate filing.
At a Public Service Commission hearing held on July 25, SMECO recorded the best score in the state for the number of outages that occurred during 2016. SMECO also met all state standards for service restoration during regular operations and major storm events. The Cooperative reported that the average time for a SMECO customer care center representative to answer a phone call is only 21 seconds, and 85 percent of calls are answered within 30 seconds.
At the annual meeting, SMECO hosted informational displays about its smart meters and EmPOWER Maryland programs that help customers save energy and money. Richard A. Winkler, Chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, welcomed SMECO's customer-members to the event and called the meeting to order, and J. Ernest Bell II of Leonardtown served as the meeting chairman. Guest speaker Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, echoed Slater's remarks and reiterated the value of cooperative membership and the customers' ability to vote for their board of directors. Customer-members who returned their ballots were eligible to win one of 60 electric bill credits of $50 each.