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President's column

Dustin Tripp

Facility Replacement

  Over the years, your Cooperative has been considering options to address the lack of headquarters facility space and numerous other issues.  Your Cooperative’s existing headquarters was constructed in 1953 and over the past 62 years, the Cooperative has outgrown the current facilities.  In summary, the current headquarters facility has been inadequate in size, space, functionality and efficiencies for years.

The Cooperative entered into an agreement with a consulting firm to evaluate the current facilities and to help identify options to address the facility needs.  This study revealed numerous issues with the existing facility including lack of vehicle storage space, lack of material storage space, lack of member convenience and privacy, lack of disaster resistant areas for employees and critical technology and lack of current ADA requirements.  As an example, due to the lack of space Cooperative line trucks, forestry trucks, trenchers, other vehicles and extensive distribution equipment are parked outside exposed to all weather elements.  This exposure leads to safety concerns, more maintenance, less reliability, shorter service life and degrades Cooperative assets.   

Dustin Tripp

Generation Needs

Since 1963 Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC) at the Lake of Egypt has provided the generation and transmission service to your Cooperative. In fact, your Cooperative was one of the three original distribution cooperatives that formed SIPC. Today, SIPC is owned and controlled by seven distribution cooperatives located in Southern Illinois. In 2014, approximately 81 percent of your Cooperative's total expenses were spent on purchased power.

As reported over the past several years, SIPC was facing significant load growth and in order to meet future power needs SIPC made the decision in 2007 to acquire 125 MW of the Prairie State Energy Campus located near Lively Grove in Washington County.  Prairie State is a two unit, 1,600 megawatt supercritical coal-fueled power plant featuring advanced technology resulting in high efficiencies, low fuel costs and achieving emissions that are far superior to America’s current coal-fired generating fleet.  

Dustin Tripp

HomE 3.0 Rebate Program

In 2010 and 2011, SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative participated in the HomE Energy Efficiency Programto help Members make improvements to their homes that resulted in consuming energy more efficiently.  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) granted Illinois Electric Cooperatives $2.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for home energy efficiency improvements.  With the help of this funding, SEIEC Cooperative members installed 50 geothermal heat pumps, 73 air-source heat pumps and 27 members made insulation and weatherization improvements.

In 2013, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) granted Illinois Cooperatives $600,000 for home energy efficiency improvements also known as the HomE Lite Rebate Program. With the help of this program, SEIEC Cooperative members installed 12 geothermal heat pumps, 13 air-source heat pumps and 8 members made insulation and weatherization improvements.

Dustin Tripp

Looking Forward

As we begin the New Year, I would like to take this time to briefly reflect on the year 2014 and summarize some of your Cooperative's plans for the year 2015.

Residential energy consumption increased approximately 2.8% in 2014.  The majority of this increase can be attributed to much colder temperatures experienced in January, February and March of 2014.  In fact, the heating-degree-day data accumulation for January and February of 2014 was the highest recorded in over 31 years of data which is indicative of extremely cold winter weather. 

In 2014, the Cooperative continued to make the necessary investment in the vegetation management program.  In fact, the Cooperative completed trimming/clearing in the Cadle, Lake of Egypt, Minerva, Ramsey, Saline River and Shell substations.  As we have certainly experienced in the past with major storms, a sound vegetation management program is crucial to your Cooperative's ability to reduce risks and outages associated with major weather events and to maintain a reliable electric supply for members.

Dustin Tripp

Capital Credits Retirement Checks

As the electric utility industry continues to evolve, face continual change and explore different ways to serve customers, we can all be proud that we are part of the electric cooperative program.  Electric cooperatives have a very unique business model that has proven to benefit cooperative members and has stood the test of time for over 76 years.

The most profound and distinct difference between electric cooperatives and other utility business structures is that electric cooperatives are not-for-profit organizations that are member-owned and member-controlled. As a not-for-profit organization, your Cooperative does not strive to produce profits for shareholders and investors but must maintain a sound financial position for the membership. Your Cooperative sets the electric rates high enough to cover the costs of providing service and at the end of the year, any funds that were collected above the cost of service are allocated to you, our members, in the form of capital credits.

Dustin Tripp

SmartHub

SmartHub is the name of the new communications tool that was implemented earlier this year for member’s use, providing more information than ever before on your computer, smart phone or tablet.  SmartHub allows quick and easy access to perform functions including view your bill, pay your bill, schedule a future payment, review past payments, receive bill reminders, update your account and view daily and monthly electric use.

The SmartHub site can be accessed from your Cooperative’s website at www.seiec.com.  After you click on the link for SmartHub, you will see an introduction to SmartHub explaining what members can do thru the system.  Once you enter SmartHub, you will need to register and set up a secure password.  Members that have already been registered for our previous e-bill site will use the same sign on information as before.