2024 Annual Meeting

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 27, 2024, to take action on the following matters:

  1. To receive reports of officers and Manager.
  2. To elect three directors to the board of directors of the cooperative.
  3. To consider such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment thereof.

Report to the members

 

The Year in Review (2023)

WIEC employees accomplished a great deal in 2023 considering the second half of the year was spent cleaning up after the Derecho damage that occurred at the end of June. We completed the installation of eighteen new services along with twelve upgraded services. WIEC continued its pole inspection program and changed out ninety poles in 2023. The line crew installed 4830’ of new primary underground along with 933’ of new overhead primary. We continue to be proactive on our line maintenance to increase reliability and mitigate outages to our members.

Our tree contractor IFP Land Services LLC (IFP) accomplished a great deal in vegetation management for WIEC. This helps our line crew focus more on maintenance of existing lines and new construction. IFP completed over eighty member requested service orders for tree maintenance. IFP also works in WIEC rights-of-way throughout the entire system helping with reliability. WIEC sprays two substation areas a year and sprayed Powellton and Elvaston substation areas in 2023.

Derecho

The June 2023 Derecho was one of the worst storms WIEC members have had to endure since the ice storm in the sixties. WIEC had over 350 distribution poles and 120 transmission poles on the ground which impacted over half of WIEC’s members: some for up to 9 days. WIEC had as many as ten crews from other utilities around the state and from Missouri helping with restoration. The Powellton substation was out of service for approximately 30 days while the new transmission line (6.5 miles) was built. This caused some challenges (low voltage and breakers tripping out) from trying to back feed the Nauvoo area from other substations farther away. The cost to WIEC from this storm was around $2.25 million dollars. We have submitted a FEMA claim that will potentially recover over $1.5 million dollars of the damage. Hopefully by the Annual Meeting I can give an update on what WIEC has actually received from the FEMA claim.

It was amazing to see the community come together to lend a hand to WIEC in so many ways. Individuals and organizations brought water, Gatorade, snacks, meals, and shared their time plus many other items. Members were very understanding during this time with very few complaints. I thought the employees did an outstanding job considering not one of them had seen this much damage during their careers at WIEC. Eric Johnson, current WIEC Line Foreman employed by the co-op for 37 years, said he had never seen more than one outside crew come help with storm restoration for WIEC. I would say we had been truly fortunate for many years up to this storm. We were not perfect and learned a lot from this storm. I, as Manager, should have been giving updates to our membership from day one, but this did not happen for the first three days. Preparing meals for over forty people took a lot of coordination. Ada Bair and hospital staff helped tremendously with this task. Gary & Deann Waddell plus others also worked tirelessly to aid wherever hands were needed. THANK YOU to everyone who helped! We were learning as we went and overall, I thought we did a fairly respectable job navigating something we had never dealt with before.

This Year (2024)

The electric industry continues to experience drastic changes due to ever-increasing Federal and State environmental regulations that are increasing reliability concerns and affordability for WIEC members and utility companies across the United States. As policy makers are putting in mandated dates for closures on coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants, without a plan to replace the same amount of generation in the mandated time frames, they are creating increasing reliability concerns. As more electric utilities pursue zero to low-carbon initiatives by the mandated 2035 and 2045 deadlines, this challenge will grow more complex as demand for electricity increases in the years to come. Large scale generating resources such as coal and nuclear plants are being closed and replaced by alternative generation on a much smaller scale. Electric cooperatives and others in the energy sector will continue to develop renewable options and pursue new technologies. However, absent new large-scale alternatives and advances in energy generating resources like coal, natural gas and nuclear, these facilities must continue to operate. WIEC believes that today’s proven technologies (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) should be included in an “all of the above” energy policy. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear resources must stay and not go away until there is technology of the same scale to replace them. The reliability and economic impacts to our country are something that should be considered by policy makers. The reason we have the strongest economy in the world is because of energy. That is now at risk because policy is getting ahead of technology.

WIEC will stay aggressive on our vegetation management and will again renew our contract with IFP Land Services LLC (IFP). This is critical for safety and reliability reasons. WIEC plans to spray the Sutter and Denver substation areas in 2024. IFP will continue working on WIEC right-of-way when time allows.

WIEC is working with Prairie Power Inc., our generation and transmission company, on several 69 kv transmission line projects in WIEC territory. These projects will give WIEC’s members increased reliability for many years to come. The one project that will start the soonest, possibly during the fourth quarter of 2024, is the new transmission line from the Disco substation. The line will be located just southwest of LaHarpe and will go to the Powellton substation located just north of Powellton. If this project would have been completed last year before the Derecho hit it would have mitigated most of the low voltage problems and outages that occurred while the replacement transmission line was being rebuilt to the Powellton substation after the original was destroyed by the Derecho.

There are four other transmission projects scheduled for the years of 2025 through 2029. Many members may have been contacted for right-of-way easements by Volkert. They are a right-of-way company that Prairie Power Inc. is using for right-of-way acquisitions. WIEC is one of ten cooperatives that owns Prairie Power Inc. WIEC’s manager and one WIEC board member sit on the PPI board of directors.

The cooperative continues to help local businesses take advantage of the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) programs that bring Federal dollars to rural areas for economic development purposes. These efforts in turn help our local communities and the financial stability of the cooperative. As of 2024 Western Illinois Electric Cooperative has helped provide $6,920,000 through these programs; aiding a total of nine projects in our community that have helped create and maintain jobs. This is something we are very proud to be a part of for our community.

There is a lot going on at WIEC as we do our best to keep the lights on and the rates as cost- effective as we can while looking to improve for the future. This is becoming incredibly challenging in the world we live in today. We encourage WIEC’s member-owners to take an active part in the cooperative. We encourage members to read the WIEC News, our monthly newsletter in the center of the Illinois Country Living magazine, to stay informed and current on what is happening locally and nationally. WIEC is only as strong as our membership makes us.

We would love to see you at our 84th Annual Meeting where our dedicated group of employees will be on display doing what they do every day for our membership: serving at the highest level. Talk with your directors. Cooperatives are like every other organization -those who participate make the decisions. As owners of the cooperative, those who attend the annual meeting are the ones who hear the reports and vote for those that will lead the co-op and make decisions that will have an impact. Think about the big picture; your vote at the Annual Meeting will elect the directors who collaborate with the manager and employees who manage the system which delivers power to you. Your involvement in your cooperative really does matter. This cooperative was built to serve you, the member.

Please join us for the WIEC Annual Meeting on June 27, 2024.