Official Meeting Notice
Notice is hereby given that the annual meeting of members of Western Illinois Electrical Coop. will be held at the University of Illinois Extension Center site in Carthage, Illinois at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, 2023 to take action on the following matters:
- To receive reports of officers and manager.
- To elect two directors to the board of directors of the cooperative.
- To consider such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment thereof.
The Board of Directors and employees of Western Illinois Electrical Coop. (WIEC) invite our member-owners to our 83rd Annual Meeting on June 22, 2023. We hope members will come early and enjoy the evening. We have some business to address, such as the election of two directors who will represent them on the WIEC Board. Also, members will hear from the board president, board secretary and WIEC manager about how the coop.erative is doing.
Annual meetings are also a time to visit with cooperative employees, directors, friends, and neighbors. This year we will be serving ribeye sandwiches along with chips and a drink, with Dilly Bars for dessert.
All registered members who attend will receive a $10 bill credit and a chance to win great prizes furnished by our local vendors and local businesses. For our grand prize this year, WIEC will give bill credits worth 1,000 kWh of free electricity to five lucky members. We will also give out ten $50.00 gift certificates from Farmhouse Meat Co. and ten $50.00 gift certificates from County Market.
As a member-owner of Western Illinois Electrical Coop you have a stake in this business. You have a say in directors who are elected to serve on the co-op’s board. By voting at our Annual Meeting, the board members you “hire” with your vote are the ones who will set policy on issues that impact WIEC. They will guide the cooperative while keeping the mem.bers in mind. We urge you to come to the Annual Meeting to use your vote and find out how your cooperative is doing. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
The Year in Review (2022)
While we are well into 2023, we would like to provide a recap of 2022 – which turned out to be a record year as far as kWh sales (73,588,190 kWhs) which was a 5.5% increase from 2021. The record kWh sales for 2022 were offset by a 2.7% increase in wholesale power cost for the year. The 2.7% wholesale power cost increase decreased WIEC’s operating revenue after paying for the wholesale power cost compared to 2021. Financially for the year, we had positive operating margins of $266,049.
WIEC’s investment in the Prairie State Energy Campus, a coal-fired generation plant southeast of St. Louis, Mo., really paid off for WIEC members in 2022. It supplies 65% of the power needs for members. While other utility companies increased their rates by as much as 50%, WIEC was protected from market prices by only being exposed to the market by 15%. WIEC’s power supplier, Prairie Power Inc., has a generation portfolio that has diverse fuel types that include coal, natural gas, solar and wind generation. WIEC has seen an increase in cost for everything. WIEC is a non-profit organization, and we try to run on the cost of doing business plus a 5% to 7% rate of return to meet our financial obligations. After all the expenses are paid at year end any money left over goes back to you the member as capital credits.
WIEC employees accomplished a great deal in 2022. We completed the installation of thirty new services along with seven upgraded services. WIEC continued its pole inspection program inspecting 454 poles and changing out 117 in 2022. We installed 7,017 feet of new underground wire along with 605 feet of new overhead wire. We continue to be proactive on our line maintenance to increase reliability and mitigate outages to our members.
WIEC started graphing recorded outages in 2018. In 2022 we had 131 outages throughout the year compared to 153 in 2021. The numbers and causes of outages for 2022 were as follows: Unknown (31), Equipment (28), Animals (26), Trees (19), Storms (15), Vehicles/Machinery (6), Sub.stations (3), Transmission from Ameren (3). Note: When there is a transmission or substation outage it usually causes the entire substation to be out of power which affects hundreds of members at once.
WIEC also saw supply chain restraints throughout the year. Line material cost significantly increased 40% to 60% along with lead times as long as 52 weeks to get transformers. Some line material vendors would not even give a date for availability. WIEC has had a bucket truck and digger derrick ordered going on over two years. We have been told we will receive the trucks in March of 2024. We did start to see supply chain restraints getting better towards the end of 2022 and are hopeful 2023 will even get better.
Our tree contractor, IFP Land Services, LLC (IFP) sprayed both the Carthage and Denver substation areas in 2022 along with brush cutting throughout our service area to maintain our vegetation management plan. They also completed about 150 service orders on tree work which was requested by our members.
This Year (2023)
At Western Illinois Electrical Coop., we work hard to control costs without adversely affecting reliability or service. WIEC’s wholesale power cost for 2023 increased 10.7% compared to 2022. Wholesale power cost makes up 68% of WIEC’s total expenses. WIEC’s internal costs have also been a challenge with pretty much everything being at a higher cost. These higher costs for purchasing goods are no mystery to our membership who have been facing this same situation with inflation. It has been four years since the Board of Directors made a change to the WIEC rates. Because of the factors above, there was a rate increase that went into effect on March 1, 2023. Residential members on Rate 1 saw about a 5% to 8% increase, Commercial members on Rate 3 saw about a 10% increase and Large Power on Rate 4 saw about a 20% increase.
New Substation and Transmission Lines
WIEC has been working on getting a new substation along with new transmission lines for over five years. I am pleased to inform you that the substation is complete and online. The new substation is located approximately four miles southwest of LaHarpe. There will be two new transmission lines built from the new substation: one going east to WIEC’s existing Powellton substation and one going north to WIEC’s existing Lomax substation. Construction on the transmission lines is scheduled to start in 2024 and be completed in 2025. These projects will help all WIEC members in Henderson County along with WIEC members in northern Hancock County. These projects were needed to increase reliability for members and to solve low voltage issues when back-feeding substations that we have dealt with for many years.
Prairie Power Inc. is a generation and transmission company that sells wholesale power along with owning transmission lines and substations. Prairie Power Inc. is owned by ten cooperatives throughout Illinois with WIEC being one of the ten. The Manager and one Direc.tor from WIEC’s Board sit on Prairie Power Inc.’s Board of Directors. A big THANKS goes out to Prairie Power Inc. These projects could not have happened without their persistence working with Ameren. This project was a joint project with Ameren, and it was turned down by Ameren a few times. Prairie Power inc. continued having conversations with Ameren and showing all the benefits it was going to have for the people from Carthage to Lomax all the way up to Monmouth. Ameren finally agreed to the projects. A big THANKS also goes out to all the members that have agreed to have new transmission lines to the existing substations built along your properties. Without your cooperation we could not have done these projects which will benefit you, the members, and the coming generations for many years.
Our wholesale power cost contin.ues to be the biggest expense we have. Sixty-eight cents of every dollar WIEC spends goes to this expense. WIEC does not generate or make our own electricity, so we must purchase it. We have a long.term power contract with Prairie Power Inc. Prairie Power Inc.’s power portfolio is diversified with a combination of generation assets which includes coal, natural gas, wind and solar.
WIEC must squeeze every possible benefit out of the remaining thirty-two cents of every dollar. WIEC has certain fixed costs necessary to keep the lights on while keeping the same level of service expected, and deserved, by our member-owners. We still have vegetation management that must be done. Equipment needs to be repaired and replaced when necessary. We still must meet payroll expenses for those employees who answer the phones, patrol line, and restore outages. Overhead expenses, such as depreciation, interest, and insurance. It is a difficult balancing act and one that your board takes very seriously.
I am pleased to report that the board of directors has authorized a general capital credit retirement of more than $250,000 to current and former members in 2023. These capital credit retirements will be for the years 1992 and 1993. If you lived on our lines during 1992 and 1993 you can expect a check around the end of October 2023.
We have renewed our contract with IFP Land Services LLC (IFP) for one year to help with vegetation management, which is critical for reliability. IFP will also be spraying brush on the Lomax and Powellton substation areas this year. Members will receive a notice about the spraying in May if you have any concerns, please contact our office. Vegetation management can help reduce outages caused by branches falling on the lines during storms, shrubbery interfering with volt.age levels or weeds in right-of-way areas making access for equipment difficult for WIEC to restore power.
Youth Day and Youth Tour
We continue to invest in the area’s youth. This year’s Youth Tour winners are Mitchell Sparrow, son of Byron and Jennifer Sparrow of Stronghurst, Illinois, and Emma Whitaker, the daughter of James and Holly Whitaker of Carthage, Illinois. WIEC will be sending Mitchell and Emma to Washington, D.C. as part of our Youth Tour program. Once in D.C., they will learn about electric cooperatives, American history, and the workings of the federal government. They will visit our state’s representatives from both the House and Senate and take in an impressive number of historic sites in the Washington, D.C. area. They will be traveling with other students from the State of Illinois, as well as from across the country. This is a great program and is available through an application process every year to any WIEC member’s child who is a sophomore through senior in high school. For more information, please check out our website or call our office. CONGRATULATIONS MITCHELL & EMMA!!
We want to thank you, the member, for your continued loyalty and support for your cooperative. We urge you to come to the Annual Meeting. Talk with your directors and the staff of the cooperative. Cooperatives are like any other organization: those that participate make the decisions. As owners of the cooperative, those that attend the Annual Meeting are the ones who hear the reports and vote for those that lead the co-op and make decisions Your involvement in your cooperative really does matter. This coopera.tive was built to serve you, the member. The Directors and Manager would also like to thank our dedicated employees who continue to work hard to provide safe and reliable service for our members.
Please join us for WIEC’s Annual Meeting on June 22,2023.