COSHOCTON -- Two members of the board of trustees of The Frontier Power Company were re-elected during the cooperative's 80th annual meeting of members Friday, July 29, at River View High School auditorium. Returned to their seats on the board were Ann Gano-McCleary of York Township, and Larry Blair of Lafayette Township.
Gano-McCleary has served on the board since 2007. She is owner of Keeping Tabs, Inc., where she prepares income taxes and financial statements, assists clients with cash flow planning and a variety of other accounting practices. She serves on the Frontier Community Connections Fund. She has completed the Credentialed Cooperative Director program.
Blair is vice president of Frontier Power and serves on the Frontier Community Connections Fund. He has completed the Credentialed Cooperative Director program and has received Board Leadership and Director Gold certifications through National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. He has been a board member since 2004.
In his report to members, board president Robert Wise said that Frontier Power strives to maintain quality service to keep the cooperative competitive.
Wise listed a few of the programs that make Frontier the best possible cooperative:
/ Implementation of the SCADA System to remotely monitor and switch substations
/ An aggressive right-of-way clearing and spraying program
/ Replacement of the Automated Meter Reading System with an ACLARA System
/ Water heater control and "Cool Returns" for air conditioning to help reduce the peak use of electricity to save all members on power cost
/ A comprehensive maintenance program to inspect Frontier's 11 substations and approximately 1,500 miles of distribution lines
/ Long-term plan to continue replacing 20 miles of line per year, originally built in the 1940s
"The past 80 years have been filled with many challenges and changes for Frontier Power," Wise said. "We have grown to provide power to nearly 9,200 meters in the rural parts of seven counties."
Guest speaker Craig Grooms, vice president of market operations for Ohio's Electric Cooperatives, Frontier Power's cooperative power supplier and statewide services organization, said the business model of both Frontier Power and its power supplier means that there is a singular focus on members in order to provide safe and affordable power.
"I've been in this business long enough to have seen companies go in and out of bankruptcy, some more than once, and most of the time it's because they were hoping to take advantage of a change in government policy, like deregulation, or because they thought they were smarter than everyone else and were willing to place a big bet with borrowed money," Grooms said. "For each of these companies, the provision of electricity at a fair price and with reliable service became an afterthought, rather than their primary focus. That's where electric cooperatives are different. The advantage is our member- and community-focused, nonprofit business model."
Grooms also highlighted changes in the electric utility industry in recent years. "Massive discoveries of natural gas in shale formations have dramatically increased gas supply, which has also produced a corresponding drop in prices," he said. He added that natural gas plants replacing coal and nuclear plants have created several concerns, including the loss of valuable fuel diversity, especially during extreme weather conditions that influence the natural gas market.
"We are living through a major change to our electric system right now, and it needs to be managed in a thoughtful and strategic way to ensure that the grid remains secure and reliable," Grooms said.
General Manager Steve Nelson introduced the cooperative's employees with a power point presentation, along with information about the cooperative. Originally founded in 1936, Frontier Power has 37 employees, 10 miles of transmission line, and 1,550 miles of electric distribution lines. The cooperative also rebuilt 25 miles of distribution line, had 111 pole changes, and installed 21 new security lights in the past year.
Nelson showed members photos of equipment used for clearing right-of-way and digging holes. He told members that no contractors are used at Frontier Power.
Approximately $199,700 in general retirement capital credits was returned to current and former members, and $177,370 was paid to estates, Nelson told members. He also showed his own electric bill, indicating the line that shows return of capital credits.
Nelson encouraged members to visit www.frontier-power.com during outages for the most up-to-date information and explained how members can use the website to pay their bills on line.
He also informed members that Frontier Community Connection Fund awarded $28,287 in grants in the previous year to help 15 different organizations.
More than 900 cooperative members and guests attended the meeting and watched a video presented by Phil Crowdy, operations manager, about "Project Ohio," in which 17 linemen representing Ohio's 24 electric cooperatives spent more than two weeks bringing light to La Soledad, Guatemala. The small village, in a remote mountainous area, had never known electricity.
Frontier Power Company serves close to 9,200 members in Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Guernsey, Muskingum, Holmes, Knox, and Licking counties.