|Vol68-10 October 2018|
SMECO holds 80th Annual Meeting—more than 6000 vote in election
SMECO held its 80th Annual Meeting on August 29, 2018, at its headquarters in Hughesville. 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:
St. Mary’s County:
Several bylaw amendments were also included on this year’s ballot, and all of them were passed.
To allow more time for printing annual meeting notices and ballots, one of the bylaw amendments adjusts the deadline for nominations for Board of Director candidates. Additional amendments provide guidelines for any future online voting that the Board may consider for SMECO’s annual meeting. Because of a misprint on the ballot, votes for one of the proposed amendments to the bylaws were not counted. If approved by the Board of Directors, that proposed amendment will appear on the ballot next year.
In 2016, SMECO members voted to amend the bylaw that outlines requirements for meetings and voting, and this is the second year the election was conducted entirely by mail. Ballots were mailed on July 26, and customer-members were instructed to return their ballots by mail by August 22. Members who returned their ballots were eligible to win one of 36 electric bill credits of $50 each. (See the list of bill credit winners.) More than 6,000 members voted, and election results were announced at the meeting.
Richard A. Winkler, Chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, welcomed SMECO’s members to the event and called the meeting to order. SMECO’s president and CEO, Austin J. Slater, Jr., explained that an electric cooperative’s members have the ability to vote each year for their representatives who serve on the board. While SMECO has approximately 138,000 customer-members, in 2016 only 882 members registered to vote, and 16 percent of those voted by absentee ballot.
In other matters, Slater said that SMECO completed installing 167,000 smart meters at homes and businesses throughout Southern Maryland last year. SMECO expects the new meters to improve outage response times, increase efficiency, and save money. Smart meters are safe and secure, and exemplify SMECO’s continued investment in improving customer service. With the meters, it is projected that SMECO will save upwards of $5 million per year in operational costs.
A capital credit general refund of $3.7 million was issued to members in July. In addition, Slater explained that SMECO’s margins for 2017 totaled $23.4 million, and all of those funds were allocated to members’ capital credit accounts. SMECO’s Board of Directors is committed to refunding capital credits to members when financially feasible.
SMECO continues to focus heavily on cost reduction and performance improvement, and the cooperative has racked up significant cost reductions of $4.2 million since the concerted effort began in 2017. SMECO is going to stick with this effort to fine-tune operations and continue to eliminate unnecessary costs while focusing on process improvement. Earlier this year, SMECO was able to refinance $135 million at a very favorable interest rate of four percent through the private placement market. Establishing this source in the capital markets allows the cooperative to obtain financing without onerous and costly government requirements.
Slater concluded his remarks by thanking the customer-members who attended the cooperative’s 80th annual meeting and said, “We are looking forward to the next 80 years of serving the good people of Southern Maryland.”
*Ballot misprint, votes not counted.