A Hand Pedal Power Generator was tested by students attending St. Croix Central Elementary School’s STEM Night, retired SCC Middle School math teacher Mike Grisham helped demonstrate and explain the difference in energy required to light LED vs. incandescent bulbs. SCEC member Beth Sippl at the event representing St. Croix County 4-H, watches one of the first trials.  Submitted photo
A Hand Pedal Power Generator was tested by students attending St. Croix Central Elementary School’s STEM Night, retired SCC Middle School math teacher Mike Grisham helped demonstrate and explain the difference in energy required to light LED vs. incandescent bulbs. SCEC member Beth Sippl at the event representing St. Croix County 4-H, watches one of the first trials. Submitted photo

Submitted by Michele DeLong, St. Croix Electric Cooperative

HAMMOND, WI – The 2017 Annual Report given at the 81st Annual Meeting highlighted many of St. Croix Electric Cooperative’s (SCEC) programs in the context of the theme “Commitment to Community” as did the reports given by Chairman Bill Peavey of Woodville and President/CEO Mark Pendergast at the meeting.

“Supporting our members and helping build stronger communities where we all live and work isn’t something new for this cooperative,” Peavey said.

Lifelong Baldwin resident Wayne Willink was among the more than 330 members and guests who registered at St. Croix Electric Cooperative’s Commitment to Community 81st Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 12. Not only did he start off the event in the “first round” playing bingo at R&D Catering Banquet Facility (an SCEC member business), but later he met the inaugural recipient of the self-named Cooperative Leadership Scholarship established in 2018 by the former SCEC Director to be awarded to a student pursuing a four-year degree in an agriculture-related field.

Nathan Fehlen of New Richmond is “just the kind of student” the Willink family hoped would receive the scholarship: Fehlen, plans to major in Agricultural Engineering Technology at UW-River Falls, was involved in 4-H and has, “always had an interest in farm equipment and how everything works on the farm.”

The Wayne Willink Cooperative Leadership Scholarship is administered by SCEC and applications are reviewed by the same committee of members who evaluated recipients for the $17,000 allocated by the SCEC Board for scholarships in 2018. Those recipients include four B-W seniors: Lilly Kobs, Maddy Kobs, KayLee Lokker and Issac Nilssen – the first three of whom attended the April 12 festivities with mothers Leah Klanderman and Jenifer Lokker.

Members at the meeting were actively encouraged to show their support of the 7th Cooperative Principle – Concern for Community – by enrolling in Community Cents, a program created in 2017 to increase the impact of SCEC’s Commitment to Community Grant program. Community Cents allows members to round up their monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar.

Attendees were greeted by LED Lucy®, on loan through Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives’ mascot program, who came alive thanks to the teenaged son of a Scholarship Committee member. Two hands-on displays on loan from Dairyland Power Cooperative – a Hand Pedal Power Generator and Lighting Comparison Energy Efficiency Module – allowed a first-hand look at (and, in the case of the generator, FEEL of) the difference in energy required to light LED vs. other types of bulbs.

Highlights from some of the meeting speeches include:

• In 2017, SCEC gave back to members more than $2 million between Capital Credits and refunds from a Nuclear Waste Policy Act settlement with the federal government.

• The rates charged for electricity from SCEC has held steady for five years – with rates lower than Xcel Energy and the lowest winter rates of five neighboring cooperatives.

• Earlier this year two new rates were approved for electric vehicles, and later this year SCEC will lease an electric vehicle to get first-hand experience and information.

• Security of members’ information is a top priority at SCEC, where credit card and banking information is not stored; members are required to give a self-created PIN before receiving any info when calling. All files are encrypted and paper documents are shredded.

• SCEC conducts mock disaster drills, has an alternate operations location and a mutual aid agreement with other Wisconsin Electric Cooperatives.

• The opening of the St. Croix River Crossing Bridge in Houlton on Aug. 2, 2017, will have a positive impact on SCEC’s new services and membership growth in the area.

• SCEC spearheaded Sunflower II, the second largest solar array in Wisconsin, which was energized near Roberts in May 2017.

• SCEC staff has driven nearly 600,000 miles since the last vehicle accident and worked a combined 128,000 hours – nearly 2 ½ years – since the last lost-time injury accident.

Other business at the meeting included the Election of Directors. The incumbents in all three districts on this year’s ballots were re-elected to 3-year terms: Alan Wilkie (District 2), William Findlay (District 5) and Derrick Oberle (District 8).

The 2017 Audit Report, Balance Sheets and Statements in the 2017 Annual Report reflect the strategic decision-making by the SCEC Board of Directors over the past number of years.

“Good policy decisions lead to excellent results,” said Brittany Story, CPA of the firm CarlsonSV, LLP, who presented the Audit Report at the Annual Meeting. “The cooperative is financially sound and effectively managed.”