BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 21, 2022) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its 86th annual meeting Tuesday at the cooperative’s headquarters and renewed its slate of officers for its Board of Directors.
Re-elected this year are the two incumbent directors from Districts 3 and 6. The current eight-member board will continue to serve as Directors for 2021-22, which includes David Burger (President), Edward Cullison (Vice President), Michael Williams (Treasurer), Sophie Haywood (Secretary), Todd Carpenter, John Royal, Dax Collins, and Shawn Dugan.
Haywood, who has served on UDWI’s board since 2018, said, “UDWI REMC made vegetation management, employee safety, and line construction/refurbishment a priority this past year, and the positive outcomes exemplify the hard work and dedication of our UDWI staff. I know we have a tough road ahead of us but because we have been good stewards of our resources, our strong financial standing will be an asset as we look forward to this new fiscal year and the challenges ahead.
Although this year’s seats were uncontested, the cooperative bylaws require candidates to receive a mandated number of votes from the membership in order to validate the election. UDWI members had the opportunity to cast their votes online or by mail before the annual meeting or in person at the annual meeting, which again produced strong voter participation with more than 1,600 votes cast, accounting for over 10 percent of UDWI members.
UDWI CEO Doug Child’s annual meeting presentation focused on the challenges and opportunities that the cooperative is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and covered a variety of topics including supply chain issues, capital improvements, safety, and higher power costs.
Coal, natural gas, and wholesale electricity prices have more than doubled since Nov. 2021, and this sharp increase will unfortunately likely lead to higher costs for UDWI members. Childs assured those in attendance that UDWI would continue its prudent cost management to offset those increases in any way the cooperative can.
“There are things UDWI is going to do to minimize the increases the best that we can,” Childs said. “We are able to do that because of changes we have implemented in the past and continue to do today. Our employees continue to work hard to make these changes possible.”
A top priority moving forward in 2022 and beyond will be vegetation management. Vegetation overgrowth is the No. 1 reason for outages and one of the biggest challenges for rural cooperatives. After an analysis of the current system, which is based on the industry standard of a “seven-year trim cycle”, the cooperative and Hoosier Heritage Management will move toward a four-year cycle to aggressively clear lines of trees and debris.
A new outage management system is launching this summer to help better alert members of outages and allow for easier reporting, as well as improvements to the online systems for tree trimming requests and staking appointments.
Childs also shared the co-op’s commitment to its community. In 2021, UDWI’s Community Fund awarded nearly $57,000 to 37 charitable organizations throughout the cooperative’s service territory. The group prioritizes funding charities that feed the hungry or assist veterans in UDWI’s 11 counties.
“Every dollar donated through UDWI’s round-up program goes directly back into the community,” Childs said. “I’m very proud of the board, which is all volunteers, for donating their time to make this committee possible, and a huge thank you to our members that continue to donate to the grant.”
Several members were in attendance for the annual meeting, including longtime member Rita Bruner of Bloomfield. “Understanding the reasons on how decisions are made at UDWI is such a great thing to know and it is one of the reasons I come to the annual meetings, along with hearing updated plans. The management team has proven that they are taking care of the members of the co-op and making a difference. Recent vegetation management has helped our property tremendously and we are thankful for the work UDWI is doing,” she said.
Childs’ presentation is available on the UDWI website. The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting of the new term on Monday, April 25 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, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo Counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.