Cooperative members were informed that an American Customer Satisfaction Survey was conducted in 2015 and your Cooperative received the highest score it has ever received and is well above the national average for electric cooperatives, well above the investor owned utility average and well above the municipal utility average. The key drivers to member satisfaction included reliable service, knowledgeable employees, prompt outage response, employee performance and excellent customer service.
On July 18, 2016, your Cooperative moved into the new headquarters facility located six miles west of Harrisburg along the south side of Illinois Highway 13 and has closed the Eldorado and Marion facilities. This new facility fulfilled the numerous needs that the cooperative had been experiencing for years and provided the much needed space and functionality for the future. This new facility has improved member access by being more centrally located to our service territory, more convenient member parking and entrance capabilities, more member conveniences including drive thru facilities and better member privacy. This new facility provides a new level of security for employees, members and cooperative equipment.
Cooperative members were informed regarding the most recent environmental regulation published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On August 3, 2015, the EPA released the final rule to reduce carbon emissions from existing power generation facilities as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan. The proposed rule calls for reductions to begin in 2022 and to achieve a national average reduction of 32% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. The proposed rule has a specific reduction target for each state and for Illinois, the rule calls for a 44% reduction by the year 2030. The new regulation may ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court, which currently appears to be split with four Supreme Court Justices that appear to oppose the plan while four Supreme Court Justices appear to support the plan. Many believe the ultimate fate of the Clean Power Plan will be determined by the election in November for President of the United States. The next President of the United States will nominate the Supreme Court Justice that may swing the balance in the Supreme Court.
The threat of this new regulation, along with other industry changes is having a significant impact on power supply across the Midwest. Southern Illinois could face a significant shortfall of electricity capacity in the next two years. If plant shutdowns come to fruition, Illinois will be faced with increasing energy capacity prices and be forced to import electricity from surrounding states instead of generating right here in Illinois. This means Illinois would lose numerous power plant jobs, support industry jobs and a tremendous tax base.
Your Cooperative is one of seven co-op owners of Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC) and its Lake of Egypt coal-fired plant. The generation and transmission cooperative also owns a diversified portfolio of electricity generation including coal, natural gas, hydro and wind power. SIPC is also one of the owners of the Prairie State Generating Campus, which also uses Illinois coal. The ownership of generating assets will help insulate the cooperative from an increase in market prices of energy capacity if power supply continues to decline as power plants are shut down across the Midwest. SIPC plans to continue operations right here in Southern Illinois, consuming Southern Illinois coal in an environmentally responsible way, providing numerous direct and indirect jobs and helping to support our local economy while providing you, as our member owners, with electricity for many years into the future.
Lastly, the members were informed that your Cooperative did receive a slight increase in the cost of wholesale power that is purchased from Southern Illinois Power Cooperative to cover their cost of operations and this has been reflected in the wholesale power cost adjustment charge. Aside from this, your Cooperative has no plans to increase the retail rates at this time. The Cooperative is in the process of completing a cost of service study and will also be reviewing the wholesale power cost from Southern Illinois Power Cooperative to determine if any rate adjustments are needed in 2017 and 2018.
See you next month and as always, "We'll keep the lights on for you."