How can we better serve you in 2018?
2017 HIGHLIGHTS and 2018 GOALS
by General Manager Steve Stroshane
As a member-owned cooperative, Polk-Burnett exists to serve you. We are guided by member-directors to provide reliable electricity with efficiency and extraordinary service. I'm pleased to report that 2017 was a successful year for the cooperative, with results that demonstrate our commitment to reliability, efficiency, extraordinary service, community service and you, our 20,000 co-op members. Our goals for 2018 are equally ambitious, and we always strive to improve our service to you and your family.
We know you depend on reliable electricity. In 2017 we worked hard to reduce the number and duration of power outages to about one hour per member. This puts us in the top 25% of co-ops nationwide for reliability. Polk-Burnett maintains more than 3,000 miles of power lines and invested $3 million in 2017 to upgrade the electric system and improve reliability for members. In 2018, our investment in the system will increase to $3.5 million. A portion of this comes from the nuclear waste settlement from our wholesale power provider, Dairyland Power Cooperative.
NUCLEAR WASTE SETTLEMENT
Board President Ed Gullickson announced at the 2017 annual meeting that Polk-Burnett received $3.7 million from Dairyland as our part of a settlement from the federal government for failing to provide permanent storage for nuclear waste. Polk-Burnett returned a special Capital Credit retirement of $1 million to members in 2017, and will invest $2.7 million in system upgrades through 2022.
We returned $1.86 million in Capital Credits in 2017. If you purchased power in 1994-96 and/or 2014, you got money back. In 2018, we will return just over $1 million in Capital Credits. Capital Credits are a direct benefit of your membership and a sign of good financial stewardship by the co-op board and employees. As a not-for-profit co-op, money is returned to members whenever margins exceed expenses.
We were excited to open SunTuria Solar in partnership with SoCore Energy and Dairyland Power in 2017. The 1.25-MW array provides clean, renewable energy at a long-term, stable rate to benefit all co-op members. Polk-Burnett also offers a cogeneration program and rebates for members who choose to install residential solar, or you can purchase renewable energy blocks through our Evergreen program. In 2018, we'd like to share SunTuria Solar with you; let us know if your school, church or community group would like a tour. COMMUNITY Through Operation Round Up and your generosity, $61,150 was donated in 2017 to programs that improve our local quality of life. Polk-Burnett also awarded $45,000 in scholarships to the children of co-op members in the Class of 2017, and co-op employees performed 600+ hours of community service.
We provide members with a mobile SmartHub app that enables you to check the status of your electric service and receive updates on your energy use. Members also use SmartHub to view and report power outages, update contact information, and view and make electric bill payments. SmartHub, Facebook and our website are new ways of connecting efficiently with you. If you prefer a more personal touch, our member service representatives are here to answer your phone calls and greet you in our offices.
So how do we serve you better in 2018 beyond what's noted above? By listening. We know that listening improves understanding and builds trust. That's why we conducted email surveys with hundreds of members in 2017, and will continue to ask for feedback in 2018. We also talked with hundreds of you at our member appreciation day, annual meeting and community events. In our offices, on the phone and Facebook, and in our face-to-face conversations, we're always ready to listen. When you have questions about energy efficiency, renewables or your electric service, please ask us. When we know what you want, we're in a better position to deliver successful results. We're always glad to hear from you.