Over 500 Central Texas Electric Co-op customers, members and spouses, gathered in the Fredericksburg High School Auditorium on August 19, as CTEC hosted its 67th Annual Members’ Meeting. CEO Robert A. Loth III welcomed them and introduced Board President Gerald Kaspar and the ten other CTEC directors. Joe Brown, CTEC Dispatcher in Fredericksburg, and Elder - Journey Church of Fredericksburg, provided an invocation.
The business of the meeting included the election of three directors. Co-op members had previously nominated the following members to represent their respective districts at District Meetings held in June: W. C. Stewart, District 4 (Llano County area); Charles E. Pearson, District 5 (Gillespie/Blanco County area); and James Low, District 6 (San Saba County area). All were elected by acclamation. As the cooperative’s bylaws stipulate, a CTEC director’s time on the board is limited to four three-year terms.
As in previous meetings, a video presentation was shown in lieu of formal reports.
Gerald Kaspar, Board Chairman introduced the video by welcoming the members attending. He told members, “At Central Texas Electric Cooperative, we provide our membership with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. I am happy to tell you that our Co-op is in very good condition and has an optimistic outlook for the future.”
Stanley Keese, Board Treasurer from Llano County, and Chairman of the Finance Committee, gave the Financial Report. He told CTEC members, “Our Co-op continues to be financially strong. Last year we experienced a year of positive, manageable growth. We added 653 new meters, and added 37 miles of new electric lines to our system. Total assets of the Cooperative increased to $163.5 million dollars, up over $10.4 million from the year before. This increase was due mainly to construction of new lines and system improvements”.
He reported that operating revenues decreased due to weather conditions, but total operating expenses also decreased in 2013 because of a decrease in purchased power costs and lower distribution and operating costs. At year-end the Co-op paid members a total of $905, 000 back in Capital Credits.
Riley Kothmann, Board Vice President from Mason County gave the members an Operations Report. He told members present, “Operating Central Texas Electric Cooperative is capital intensive effort. Those fancy words mean that our business is expensive to build and maintain. Substations, transformers and thousands of miles of electric lines that cross some of the roughest terrain in the state, cost a lot of money to put in place. On top of that, because our investments are exposed to the sometimes wild and destructive weather patterns of central Texas, maintenance and repairs are ongoing efforts”.
He told members that CTEC has more than 120,000 poles in the system. And that last year, as a part of an ongoing maintenance plan, almost 7,000 of those poles were inspected, and over 1,500 were replaced.
In addition, construction projects completed included:
Re-energizing the Nebo substation north of Fredericksburg, which serves the Eckert area along Highway 16,
The completion of a voltage conversion in the Eckert area,
The completion of a second main circuit in the Ingram/Goat Creek area,
Completing the re- building lines west of Cherokee,
The completion of two re-conductor projects in the Castell area,
And continue to rebuild and improve the lines serving the Harper area.
Kothmann added, “We also spent more than one $1.3 million to re-clear right-of-ways throughout the system. We do all of this maintenance and these improvements to make sure our system is in tip-top shape. All of these efforts improve safe working conditions for our linemen and helps provide reliable power to you, our member owners”.
Bob Loth, CEO, then updated members with the Power Supply Report. He told members that power supply cost has always been the co-op’s largest expense, and that today it remains the same, with more than 60 cents out of every dollar collected going to pay for the power that is purchased from generators.
“Perhaps the biggest news regarding power supply that has happened since our annual meeting last year is that we settled our long-running dispute with the Lower Colorado River Authority in April. Yes, we have divorced ourselves from the LCRA generation corporation, but we will still have a strong and beneficial working relationship with the LCRA transmission services corporation. They will continue providing us assistance with transmission, substation and radio communication”.
Loth continued, “Regarding generation, the obvious question is how we came out of the deal. Well, a residential member using 1,000 kWh a month, now pays about 7 percent less this year than last year. Obviously, changing power suppliers has played a major role in the reduction of your monthly electric bill. Taking a comparative look at prices last year versus prices this year, CTEC is the only area co-op whose bill has gone down”.
Reporting on CTEC’s Community involvement, Mason Director Jack Asbill said, “When people think about Central Texas Electric, they normally think poles, wires, transformers and other electric equipment. But, that is not the only purpose your Co-op serves, we really are about people”.
He said a good example of this is the support the Co-op gives the youth of the area. The CTEC Scholarship Program, now in its 17th year, awarded 40 Co-op students with $1000 scholarships in 2014. To date, your Co-op has awarded $459,000 in scholarships to local students. The dollars used to fund these scholarships does not come from electric bill revenues, but rather from unclaimed capital credit funds. Another youth program sponsored by CTEC is the Government in Action Youth Tour. Local students earning this trip to Washington D.C., gain leadership skills, visit national landmarks and museums, and meet with their elected officials regarding issues in rural areas.
Asbill also reminded Co-op members about the Operation Round-Up program that has been able to award 86 grants since its inception, totaling over $100,000, to help local people and organizations in the Co-op’s service territory.
Asbill continued by mentioning the new SmartHub app that was introduced in May, to help CTEC members monitor their accounts. Co-op customers can manage their account on the go, giving them the ability to check daily, weekly or monthly usage and to see how weather affects their bill. They can also pay their bill, set up recurring payments, set power usage alerts or view their payment history. The SmartHub is a free app, and can be downloaded to a Smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
Board Chairman Kaspar concluded the video report by saying, “As you can see by this report, your Co-op is busy making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Your Board of Directors is constantly looking out for you, our members, to make sure you are getting the best value for your dollar”. Kaspar then gave recognition to the employees of CTEC. He said, “We have some of the best that there are, they are the heart, the soul, the spirit that makes your cooperative work, they also just happen to be your friends, family and neighbors”.
Following the video report, CEO Loth gave special recognition to 20 employees with extended tenure at the cooperative.
Afterward, Loth and Kaspar offered a brief question-and-answer session for members, giving them an opportunity to voice their questions and comments.
The meeting ended with a drawing for over $3000 worth of door prizes that were all donated by the CTEC’s generous suppliers.