United Power has spent the past year engaging in innovative solutions to bring members more reliable and efficient energy with an eye toward “Powering the Future,” the theme of the 79th Annual Meeting and Director Election held on April 18th. More than 700 people were represented at the annual member event held at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton, Colo. With seats up for election in each of United Power’s four districts, members were asked to cast ballots to decide who would represent them in those seats for the next three years. For the first time since 2005, however, each of the incumbent directors ran for re-election unopposed. In a cost-saving decision, the cooperative’s board voted to have an onsite election instead of mailing ballots to members.
Members cast more than 300 votes in the election, and results were announced during the course of the business meeting. South District incumbent, Susan Petrocco, received 321 votes to retain her seat for another term. Rick Newman, Mountain District, and Brian A. McCormick, West District, retained their seats with 311 votes each. In the East District, Tim Erickson also retained his seat with 310 votes.
Balloting began shortly after member registration at 4:30 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall. Members were then able to enjoy a Three Tomatoes catered dinner, visit informational exhibit booths and enjoy live entertainment. The business meeting began at approximately 6:30 p.m. in the Waymire Dome and was streamed to overflow seating in the Exhibit Hall.
Once the meeting was called to order, Board President James Vigesaa discussed some of the exciting new projects, developments and initiatives United Power has pursued over the past year.
United Power has been making moves in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency over the course of the past year with several exciting projects and programs on the horizon. The evening’s highlight came when Vigesaa announced United Power had reached an agreement with officials from the Town of Frederick to purchase the municipal electric utility, Frederick Power & Light, serving approximately 2,400 customers. Those customers will become members of the cooperative in the coming months.
The addition of these new members comes at an exciting time for United Power. In October, the cooperative announced plans to construct a battery storage system at its new western facility located along Interstate 25. Developed in collaboration with SoCore Energy, the battery storage system would become the largest such system in Colorado and one of the largest systems owned and operated by a cooperative in the country.
In the previous year, the board named a new Chief Executive Officer, John Parker, and appointed Keith Alquist II to fill the seat left vacant when Bob Grant resigned in August. United Power also completed construction on its third solar farm. The Platte Solar Farm, energized in November, adds 16 additional megawatts of energy to United Power’s renewable energy portfolio and joins existing farms in Ft. Lupton and Mead.
Through developments and initiatives like these, United Power continues to aim high and set the standard for others to follow, and has been rewarded with continued economic stability. The cooperative’s operating expenses totaled $226 million in 2017, an increase of nearly $14 million from 2016, nearly all due to higher purchased power costs, Board Secretary/Treasurer Beth Martin reported. Purchased power represents more than 76 percent of operating costs.
The strong financial standing allowed United Power to retire more than $5 million in capital credits this past year compared to $4 million the previous year. In the past five years, United Power has retired nearly $24 million in capital credits.
The Annual Meeting continued with the CEO’s Report, including two special video presentations. The first demonstrated some of the ways United Power has innovatively restructured departments to make processes more efficient. The second video detailed the use of UAVs (or drones) to inspect power lines and poles in our mountain territory in a way that makes identifying issues quicker, safer and cheaper. The program will soon launch in the plains territory.
“Our Annual Meeting is more than an event to inform our members,” Parker said. “It’s a chance for them to celebrate our accomplishments with us. Everything we’re doing is an effort to bring them safe, reliable and sustainable power.”
For members who were unable to attend but are still interested in how United Power continues to serve them, these videos are available on the cooperative’s website, social media and YouTube channel.
The evening also included a special check presentation to 2018 scholarship winners. United Power is proud to provide more than $18,000 in scholarships to deserving high school seniors within our service territory who are intent on pursing postsecondary education.
The meeting concluded with a member forum and drawing for door prizes. United Power looks forward to monitoring trends and innovations that allow us to best serve our members as we also look forward to celebrating our 80th anniversary in the coming year.
2018 Director Election Results
United Power members cast more than 300 ballots, and the following results were certified by the Election and Credentials Committee at the 2018 Annual Meeting:
Susan Petrocco, 321
Brian A. McCormick, 311
Tim Erickson, 310
Rick Newman, 311