Gibson EMC Annual Members' Meeting
Gibson Electric Membership Corporation hosted a large crowd of members and friends at its 81st Annual Members' Meeting on April 6 at Hickman County Elementary School in Clinton, Kentucky.
The featured performers, Millie + Tyler, entertained the crowd with an eclectic, acoustic collection ranging from oldies to alternative modern music. Members were served free barbecue and hot dog dinners, toured exhibits and participated in the business meeting.
Gibson EMC Board Chairman Steve Sanders opened the business meeting by thanking members for their participation and support. He also talked about the benefits of cooperative membership including local ownership and control through the member elected board of trustees.
Gibson EMC President and CEO Dan Rodamaker began his report by saying, “The theme of our meeting is ‘Unified,’ a word that well describes the past year for your cooperative because on January 1, 2016 Gibson EMC merged with the former Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC.”
Rodamaker said that on day one, Gibson EMC lowered the distribution portion of the Kentucky members’ rates. “I’m happy to report that our Kentucky members have cumulatively saved almost 1.1 million dollars. Based on this, we expect our Kentucky members will save more than 10 million dollars in distribution costs over the next 10 years,” he said. “Moving toward a single rate for all of our members is something that we feel is important and it is something our regulator, TVA, requires.”
“I also am happy to tell you that we have made many physical improvements during the past year that enhance reliability and that helps us perform more efficiently,” Rodamaker said. He shared that a sectionalizing study was conducted for the Kentucky part of the service area, in early 2016, and Gibson EMC purchased the equipment the study recommended. “We have added equipment monitors and controls in our Kentucky substations. We have also added line devices in Kentucky and throughout our system. This equipment communicates with our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system, which we call SCADA, to automatically alert us of problems. Using it, we can more quickly identify outage locations and restore service faster,” he said.
He explained that Gibson EMC also continually analyzes outage data and replaces aged or faulty equipment. “Some of the big projects we completed in Tennessee this year were upgrades to our Rutherford and Trenton substations and line upgrades in the Samburg, Woodland Mills, Three Way and Medina areas.”
Rodamaker said that technology makes the cooperative better in many ways but he acknowledged that it can also create risks. “Cyber security has always been a priority, but during 2016 we worked with our national association, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and our software provider to further safeguard your information and protect our electric distribution grid,” he said.
Rodamaker pointed out that the cooperative’s radio communications system is critical to employee safety and the cooperative’s ability to work efficiently. “During the past year, we made significant improvements to this system. We installed radio towers in Arlington and Hickman and built fiber to those sites. This is a project that probably would have been cost-prohibitive without the merger,” Rodamaker said. He explained that Gibson EMC also expanded their radio system to include the Kentucky service area. “With the completion of these projects, we now have nearly 100 percent communications coverage and automatic vehicle location throughout our 12-county service area,” he said.
In closing, Rodamaker thanked the former Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC board of trustees. “They put their members’ best interest above their own,” he said. He also thanked former Hickman-Fulton President and CEO Greg Grissom and added, “Our partnership on projects under Greg’s capable leadership laid the foundation for the merger.” He applauded the Gibson EMC board for having the vision and courage to embrace the merger and support service enhancements for the Kentucky members. Lastly, he thanked the cooperative’s member-owners saying, “We sincerely appreciate your trust and your continued support.”