UDWI passes 2022 budget, looks ahead at plans for the new year

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2021) – The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its December board meeting Monday where CEO Doug Childs presented the 2022 budget to the Board of Directors.

Highlights of the budget include planned capital credits distribution of nearly $685,000, and a capital improvement budget totaling $4.862 million dollars with over $2.25 million allocated to planned construction improvements on current and new infrastructure. 

“Construction costs are exceptionally high right now due to the pandemic,” Childs said. “We are relying more and more on our internal crews to perform construction upgrades for us. We are grateful for the team we have and the great amount of work they completed this past year.” 

The board also discussed how the cost of power from Hoosier Energy is increasing, forcing the cooperative to pass on these costs to members. As a result, members will see an increase of around $3 per megawatt-hour in the new year, an average annual increase of approximately $40.

This increase is not a result of UDWI raising its base rates, which saw a decrease in recent years. Hoosier Energy, as the Generation and Transmission Cooperative, provides wholesale power to distribution co-ops like UDWI through its own electric generation facilities or by purchasing power on behalf of the distribution members. Hoosier Energy is facing higher costs for natural gas, coal and purchased power. Power costs from Hoosier Energy account for approximately 60 percent of the monthly electric bill and, therefore, the increase from the supplier must be passed to the cooperative and its members.

UDWI has been committed to cutting cooperative costs for the last several years. Decreasing the number of staffing positions and switching health care providers allowed the co-op to cut budgets and move into an improved operating position, investing more in infrastructure and tree trimming. 

“If you had told me a few years ago UDWI would be able to go this long without having to increase our base rates, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Childs said. “Our team has done a tremendous job working to cut costs in as many areas as possible and their work has led to some great accomplishments.”

Since the start of the pandemic, UDWI has remained committed to improving the reliability and safety of its infrastructure, members and employees. The cost of supplies and materials needed for improvements increased due to inflation, but repairs have remained a priority. In 2021, crews replaced over 850 utility poles as well as 15 miles of line construction. In addition, Hoosier Heritage Management and contracted vegetation management teams cleared nearly 70 miles of right-of-way, sprayed herbicide and chemical vegetation management over 50 miles, and mowed another 22 miles. 

In other board news, capital credits were distributed in November; nearly $467,000 was retired to members for the years 1968-69.

The UDWI Annual Meeting and director elections will be held on April 19, 2022, at 6 p.m. at the cooperative headquarters in Bloomfield. Districts 3 and 6 are up for election. Candidates that are interested in running for UDWI’s Board of Directors must pick up a candidate packet from the central office and turn it in completed by or on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. More information will be in January’s newsletter and can be found on UDWI’s Facebook page.

The next UDWI Board Meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. An announcement regarding the location of the meeting will be made closer to that date on social media and UDWI’s website.

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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.

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