BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (Sept. 27, 2019) -- The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC announced that it passed the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) at its board meeting Monday night.
RESAP is a certification program through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and strives to promote the highest standards of safety among electric cooperatives. The program is conducted once every three years and cooperatives are stringently evaluated by a team consisting of national, state and local rural electric professionals. The team analyzes safety practices, training programs, personal protective equipment, vehicles, and utility infrastructure to ensure that the cooperative meets best industry safety practices.
After the completion of the program, UDWI received a personal letter from Chuck Tiemann of the Indiana Electric Cooperatives, who was part of the evaluation team that conducted the safety accreditation. Tiemann said that the UDWI’s safety program and practices are as good or better than the best ran cooperative systems, not just in Indiana, but in the nation.
“It’s very rewarding to hear that we are doing everything we should be,” said Director of Engineering and Operations Shane Smith. “The accreditation confirmed that we are keeping our team safe, strengthening our operating procedures and professionalism, and creating an overall positive attitude in the workplace.”
Also on the agenda for the evening, a presentation from Brian Stavish of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation provided a statistical look at the cooperative and revealed important trends in the electric utility industry that can be used to help identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.
A report is a benchmarking tool that allows UDWI to easily compare itself to other utility companies and cooperatives. Categories of the report measure from power supply costs, to operating costs and system reliability.
UDWI is fifth in Indiana in line miles, but only 20th in kilowatts sold, which means that it must maintain service for a very large system with lower sales volumes than other comparable cooperatives.
“We plan to do this review every year,” said Doug Childs, CEO of UDWI. “It’s very helpful to see the trends in the industry and see the progress we are making compared to other utility companies in Indiana and across the country. This data helps see where we will face challenges and how we can continue to best manage our costs”
The report showed that UDWI has increased its efficiency by lowering its operating costs and staffing and maintained strong financials even with the rate cut to members in 2018. In 2014, UDWI had 322 members served by one employee, and in 2018 they had 373 members served for every one employee. The co-op’s total controllable expenses per consumer have decreased from $629 in 2014 to $588 over the past year. This reduction was the result of significant budget cuts made by UDWI. The report clearly showed a leaner, more efficiently ran cooperative.
“Keeping up with new technology and proactive financial planning has produced positive results,” said Stavish. “Congratulations to UDWI on a good year, which included a rate decrease in 2018--the only rate cut I am aware of among our national client base.”
An upcoming training opportunity was also announced. Law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel and dispatchers from the UDWI service territory and the immediate surrounding areas are encouraged to attend a Live Line Demonstrations at UDWI October 10, 2019, at 6:30 p.m.
At UDWI’s headquarters, attendees will learn about safety in an electrical emergency, what to do if downed lines or poles are seen, and who to contact in any electrical situation. Invitations have been sent, but if you are a first responder in the UDWI service territory and would like to attend please contact Lydia Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UDWI will hold its next Board of Directors meeting on Monday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m.
Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC), located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Dubois, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Sullivan and Vigo Counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.