UDWI REMC welcomes two new board members at 2023 annual meeting
BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 26, 2023) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its 87th annual meeting Tuesday at the cooperative’s headquarters and renewed its slate of officers for its Board of Directors.
Two new directors, Melinda Hendrix, District 4 and David Kirkling, District 1 joined the eight member board, which includes Todd Carpenter, District 2 (re-elected for his third term), Edward Cullison (President), Dax Collins (Vice President), Michael Williams (Treasurer), Sophie Haywood (Secretary), and Shawn Dugan.
“I am honored to be part of the UDWI board and I hope to continue the great work the board has achieved in the last few years,” said Cullison. “As a group, we are aware of the current challenges of reliable power and supply issues, along with controlling expenses, and we will work to stay ahead of them.”
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 1,500 votes cast, accounting for nearly 10 percent of UDWI members.
UDWI CEO Doug Childs’ annual meeting presentation focused on ‘Facing the Future’ and covered a variety of topics including capital improvements, vegetation management, employee accomplishments, and mitigating higher power costs.
Top priorities for the cooperative in 2023 will focus on replacing/improving aging infrastructure and minimizing the impact of high power supply costs. The cooperative plans to replace between 25 and 30 miles of aging conductor in 2023, approaching UDWI’s all-time annual record.
“We were able to replace nearly 800 utility poles last year and that shows the great work we are getting from our employees and contractors. This work is integral to improving our system reliability,” said Childs. “We’ve tripled our progress from about 10 years ago and we will continue investing in our infrastructure.”
UDWI continues investing in its employees, who recorded over 1,250 hours in training for job skills and safety. These trainings included Hoosier Energy Apprenticeship, Training and Safety (HEATS), Climbing and Advanced Climbing School Programs, and live line pole-top demonstrations.
Childs also shared the co-op’s commitment to its community. In 2022, UDWI’s Community Fund awarded over $55,000 across 40 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. In addition, UDWI was able to issue 12,600 capital credit checks, returning over $950,000 to its members.
“Returning capital credits is one of the least talked about things cooperatives do, but it’s one of the most important,” said Childs. “2022 was a record year for us in returning capital credits and we will continue this effort.”
Childs discussed UDWI’s response to higher power supply costs, which includes contract flexibility with Hoosier Energy to try to help mitigate some of the coming increases. The cooperative will also run its business as tight as it can to minimize as much cost as possible, help educate members on how to wisely use energy and save it when they can, and advocate legislatively for policies that will help energy affordability through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
In addition, Childs discussed the current projects under development in the WestGate area, including housing and microelectronics investments. These projects are estimated to bring over 500 jobs to the area, and UDWI needs to make sure it can keep up with the project from a capital perspective and act as a partner to these companies as they grow and develop.
Childs’ presentation is available on the UDWI website. The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting of the new term on Monday, April 24 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.