The Cooperative ended the year 2014 in sound financial condition and returned $1.1 million in capital credits in December 2014 to you as Cooperative members. This means the Cooperative has retired over $10 million in capital credits (including discounted estates) to members over the past five years.
As previously announced, in 2012 your Cooperative experienced a significant increase in the cost of wholesale power delivered by Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC) located at the Lake of Egypt near Marion. This increase was primarily driven by SIPC’s acquisition of 125 MW of the new Prairie State Generation Campus (PSGC) located near Lively Grove. This new generation capacity was required due to additional growth in Southern Illinois and to ensure all members with sufficient energy capacity. Your Cooperative has been implementing the necessary changes in retail rates to reflect this increase in wholesale power cost over the past few years and will implement the final 2.5% retail rate increase in May of 2015 to reflect the changes in wholesale power costs. The Cooperative will need to add approximately 1% in retail rates for other distribution Cooperative related costs making the total rate increase approximately 3.5% in May 2015.
In 2015, your Cooperative is planning to continue making necessary investments in the distribution facilities that serve your energy by rebuilding aging infrastructure, replacing degraded poles and performing other maintenance activities including pole testing, regulator maintenance, breaker maintenance, sectionalizing, etc. in order to help ensure a safe and reliable electric supply.
In order to achieve the Cooperative’s current vegetation management program goal of trimming on a four to five-year cycle, the Cooperative needs to trim and cut trees along approximately 700-900 miles of power line per year. The maps that are displayed on page 16b and 16c of this issue show the areas where the Cooperative will be trimming trees, removing trees and applying necessary herbicides in 2015. If you would like additional information regarding your Cooperatives vegetation management activities for 2015, please contact the Cooperative or visit our website at www.seiec.com.
In 2015, your Cooperative remains committed to finding new and better ways to serve its members. Your Cooperative will continue to work diligently to improve and enhance the level of service and reliability that you receive.
See you next month and as always, "We'll keep the lights on for you."