Meeting side notes:
Among the personnel changes this year was retirement of operations manager Cliff McCulley after nearly 31 years with ICLP, which started for him as an apprentice lineman in 1984. Coming on as the new system engineer/IT manager is Stephan Frazier of Kamiah, a graduate who received his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Idaho.
In related ICLP meeting business, unanimous ballots were cast for re-election for directors Frank McIntire (District 5), Jim Poxleitner (District 6) and Ernie Robinson (District 7). All three noted their thanks to members for the privilege to serve and the opportunities for learning about the cooperative and its business these positions provide them.
“We’ll keep the rates down as much as we can and the fish swimming,” said Robinson, who has served on the board 33 years. “All of the guys here work really hard; I’m proud of them.”
GREENCREEK — Idaho County Light and Power Cooperative members received a report on their utility’s business at last week’s 76th annual membership meeting, held in Greencreek.
President Ernie Robinson led the Thursday, Nov. 6, luncheon meeting with a look back at three-quarters of a century of service by the co-op to its members, which started in 1939 with 60 customers fed power by poles set up mostly by hand and horse, and that today reaches across prairies, river valleys and mountaintops in both urban areas and remote homesteads.
“Today we have become more diverse in so many facets of the electric cooperative business,” he said, that includes diversification into other enterprises, such as Idaho County Propane (ICP) and its hydro generation plant on John Day Creek, and also in extending the co-op’s resources for power supply through state, regional and national associations.
Through such organizations as the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association, Northwest Requirements Utilities and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, “we gain the voice to impact important issues that affect you and your cooperative,” Robinson said, “including state laws, wholesale rates and even congressional legislation and federal regulations.”
Getting to business matters, Director Cliff Tacke noted both the cooperative’s and ICP subsidiary’s total net value is approximately $16.7 million, members’ equity has grown to nearly $10.3 million, and the outstanding debt, accounts payable and other liabilities make up the remaining $6.4 million. Combined operating revenues were more than $8.3 million, of which electricity sales made up 60 percent and propane sales around 38 percent. Cost of power and electric operations accounted for about 39 percent – just more than $8 million – of combined operating expenses, and cost of propane and propane operations was around 33 percent of the total. Tacke said total margins for 2013 were $369,959 (down from $512,430 in 2012), of which the board approved in March a $56,978 capital credit retirement.
“Since 1988 when your board authorized the first capital credit retirement,” he said, “the cooperative has retired a total $2,324,648 of patronage capital.”
From 2012 to 2013, ICLP electric services increased by 44 for a total 3,794. Total kilowatt hours sold increased 5 percent for a total 51,239,269.
For the ICP subsidiary, Director Kim Dahler said propane sales in 2013 grew by more than 150,000 gallons from the previous year for a total 1,691,990 gallons for the fiscal year. Operating expenses were up 6 percent to $1,169,000, which reduced the net income to $59,248. ICP customers from 2012 to 2013 increased by 26 for a total 3,277.
While total sales were up more than $877,000 from 2012, he added, however, “the cost of propane and materials sold was up nearly that same amount, and therefore our gross profit of $1,279,000 was nearly the same from the year before.”
Overall, he continued, commercial sales fell off that were replaced by growth in the residential sector, despite the emergence of a competitor to the south.
ICLP Manager Jake Eimers laid out the good news and bad news: “The good news is this is the last speech,” he said. “The bad news is that you have to listen to me.”
Eimers put forth several operations issues from the past year, including a “good news” item regarding the cooperative’s $200,000 purchase of Bonneville Power Administration’s East Grangeville Substation. BPA has been selling off its low voltage delivery systems for some time at low prices to utilities, he explained, and advising consumers that rates charged for lower voltage service would be increasing. So the purchase was advantageous for both BPA and ICLP, he said.
“In return, we have realized a reduction in our annual cost of power by over $60,000, at today’s prices,” Eimers said. “It’s going to get even more advantageous because that low voltage delivery charge is expected to go up another 25 percent in the next rate case.”
Eimers advised members litigation involving ICLP is under way regarding the 2012 Sheep Fire near Lucile, which is likely to continue for several years, and the co-op is adequately insured to cover legal expenses and potential liabilities. Regarding that fire, silt and sand runoff from the fire area damaged bearings in the John Day hydro plant, and as a result it was shut down from last November to mid-January for repairs and to also rebuild the generator wheel, which had been in operation for 26 years. Eimers added it appears there is a slight increase in generation as a result of the rebuild.