BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (Nov. 27, 2018) -- The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its monthly Board of Directors meeting Monday evening.
Donna Walker, the newly appointed CEO of Hoosier Energy, kicked off the meeting with the presentation of UDWI’s capital credits check for the year in the amount of $488,677. This revenue for UDWI was included in the co-op’s operating budget. Hoosier Energy began issuing capital credit to each of its member cooperatives in 2000. To date, UDWI REMC has received capital credits totaling over $8 million from Hoosier.
Walker plans to attend board meetings at each of Hoosier’s eighteen (18) member cooperatives, and UDWI marks her first official stop since taking over as CEO on Nov. 13.
“I began transitioning into my new role at Hoosier this summer, and my first order of business was to hold one-on-one meetings with each cooperative’s manager and board representative to learn what was working well and what can be improved,” said Walker.
Common themes of those member meetings were gathered to help create strategic priorities for Hoosier for the coming year; some of those focus areas will include keeping rates competitive, controlling costs, emerging technologies, and strengthening member services.
“Our member cooperatives expressed the importance of having access to information and also building a strong managers’ association that keeps our cooperatives engaged in the governance and policies for Hoosier—we will concentrate on changes that can make us better and stronger,” concluded Walker.
UDWI CEO Doug Childs and Director Todd Carpenter have both been encouraged by Walker’s commitment to create an open dialogue with UDWI and the other member cooperatives, “I believe our working relationship with Hoosier is in a very good place, and that Donna will lead us in the right direction for our members at UDWI,” said Carpenter.
Childs continued the meeting with a presentation of the 2019 UDWI budget. Highlights of the budget include planned capital credits distribution of $440,000, a 2 percent cost of living increase for employees and the capital improvement budget totaling $5.725 million dollars with over $2.4 million of work to replace aging wire and make other system improvements. The most significant announcement was that the budget required no rate increases for UDWI members.
“Last year we were the only cooperative in the state to lower rates, the fact that we can keep those lower rates in place this year with energy costs on the rise is a testament to the dedication of the board and the management team to cut costs in almost every area of the co-op,” said Childs. “Quite simply, we are doing more with less. That said, we have not cut any areas that affect the service to our members, and we have safe guards in our financial planning that allow us to make much needed improvements and upgrades to many areas in our service territory.”
Budget cuts of nearly $1.5 million during the past year have allowed UDWI to move into a better operating position that is putting members first, “We’ve made huge progress on expenses, but we have to continue to work smarter and control costs in the months and years ahead,” added Childs.
In other board news, the UDWI bylaws required a review of director districts in 2018. The Board can choose to redistrict if member population warrants, but after the review, the Board voted unanimously to keep current districts in place for the upcoming election cycle.
The UDWI Annual Meeting and Director elections will be held April 25, 2019 at 6 p.m. at the cooperative headquarters in Bloomfield, more information about how members can vote early and online will be distributed prior to the meeting. Districts 3 and 6 are up for re-election; candidate application packets are available at the UDWI office and are due January 25.
A special board meeting will be held this Thursday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. for a presentation from Indiana University Kelley School of Business students on a recently completed financial feasibility analysis for broadband in the UDWI service territory. Members should contact Amanda Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org, if they wish to attend.