Vernon Electric’s 78th Annual Meeting drew a large crowd where CEO Joe McDonald announced construction of Wisconsin’s first community solar farm which will be located next to Vernon Electric’s headquarters building in Westby.
The community solar project will allow members of the Cooperative to buy solar panels to provide their own clean, local energy.
Construction will begin in April and be operational by mid-summer.
McDonald and staff updated the membership on the implementation of several new technologies within the Cooperative which will enhance customer service, safety, and efficiency. Rollout of the new SmartHub App allows members online account access, and crews use of iPads and smart phones to view electronic maps and live outage information for improved communication and safety.
The Cooperative continues to remain financially strong and had record sales in January 2014. Members received capital credit refunds in March totaling $442,000 and were informed Vernon Electric will be “holding the line” on rates and there will be no rate increase for 2014.
Brian Rude, Dairyland Power Cooperative Vice-President of External and Member Relations, explained how Dairyland is also holding the line on costs. EPA regulations continue to add cost pressures. Rude discussed the 520 kW solar project that will also be constructed this spring, adjacent to Vernon Electric’s headquarters building. DPC is the leader among utilities in Wisconsin for renewable energy.
Retired long-time board member Herb Kramer and his wife Phyllis were recognized by Board President Bernadine Hornby. Three candidates vied for Herb’s seat and Jerry Kramer received the most votes. Incumbents Ole Yttri and Orlan Bakkum each won challenges from opponents in the election process.
The meeting concluded with 21 area students each receiving a $750 scholarship. Scholarship funds are made available from unclaimed capital credits of the Cooperative.
Following the Annual Meeting, the Board re-elected Bernadine Hornby, President; Richard Nemec, Vice President; David Dregne, Secretary; and David Olson, Treasurer.