By STEVEN NALLEY
Leaders within 4-County Electric Power Association will discuss highlights of the past year and re-election of incumbent directors at its annual membership meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday at the East Mississippi Community College Auditorium in Mayhew.
Jon Turner, 4-County manager of marketing and public relations, said the meeting will feature remarks from 4-County CEO Joe Cade, board president Jay Gilliland and board secretary-treasurer Mike Banks.
“They are just going to talk about the state of the cooperative, look at the financials for the last fiscal year (and) some of the programs we’ve got available for members,” Turner said. “(The meeting is) just an overview, just some of the highlights of the last fiscal year, going over the income statements and looking at electric plant sales.”
Gilliland is one of three longtime board members who are up for re-election to three-year terms and running unopposed, Turner said. Gilliland has been on the board since 1988, Kenneth Seitz has been on it since 1990, and Bud Tumlinson has been on it since 1993, he said.
Turner said Gilliland, Cade and Banks will discuss the importance of cooperatives like 4-County at the meeting. He said the U.S. Senate, following action by the United Nations General Assembly, has named 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives.
The financial statements to be discussed are largely good news, Turner said, with healthy margins and sales only slightly down from a mild winter. He said financial discussions at the meeting will not include the rates customers pay.
“Typically, our rates are set by (the Tennessee Valley Authority), for the most part,” Turner said. “We purchase those rates wholesale from TVA and turn around and retail them to customers. We don’t really have much control over those. That said, an average of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour per customer, that’s a tremendous bargain. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about ... The average (4-County) customer pays $5 per day for power.”
Turner said highlights of 4-County’s year include saving the company $300,000 through changes to inventory procedures and saving members more than $96,000 on prescription drug costs through its Co-op Connections Card program. Brad Barr, 4-County communications coordinator, said 4-County has also begun engineering for a new Waverly substation in Clay County, planning to energize the substation in April 2014.
“We were named a Tree Line USA electric utility by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the third year in a row,” Barr said. “We were the first electric utility in Mississippi to attain that designation 3 years ago. We’ve (also) implemented E-mobile ... a centralized, computerized work dispatch system. That has resulted in savings on paper, fuel, time and expenses. We’re really ahead of the game industry-wise on this.”
A variety of festivities, including hot air balloon rides, a free health fair and a luncheon will lead into the meeting starting at 8 a.m. Turner said the health fair has been popular with customers for many years, and the goal is to attract customers to the meeting to gather feedback.
“If they have any questions, we’ll be happy to talk to them, and if we can’t address them at the meeting, we’ll certainly follow up with them,” Turner said. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a fun event. It’s sort of a way to say, ‘Thanks.’”