Latta addresses Hancock-Wood Annual meetingSeptember 23, 2013
Rep. Bob Latta speaks to the Hancock-Wood Annual Meeting.
A special guest started Saturday’s annual meeting of Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative on a high note.
Rep. Robert Latta of Ohio’s 5th District commended Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative (HWEC) on its 75 years of service. In a speech before hundreds of co-op members and dignitaries, he said, “There is something really great going on in America today and that is called energy.”
Latta serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction on legislative matters, including energy policy.
“As we look around the world, we are sitting on (enough energy) right here in this nation for the rest of the world.” He recalled past U.S. gas shortages and said, “We have 26 percent of the world’s coal in this country and we should be utilizing that clean coal technology to make sure we keep the lights on.”
Latta also spoke about opposition to use of this resource, saying, “Unfortunately, there are some folks in Washington who want to turn the lights off...coming up with more and more restrictions through the EPA on coal. We are going to be fighting those, but the big thing people have to remember is that we can take care of ourselves in this country. We will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production in 2020. That’s incredible! We have to make sure we keep using our oil, our natural gas and our coal in this country.”
Latta’s speech preceded the election of trustees during the business portion of the meeting. Trustees David Corbin, Tom Dierksheide and John Edie were re-elected to continue serving on the board of trustees.
Board President Ed Crawford spoke about the co-op mission, saying, “‘Members first’ was the key to our cooperative’s success back in 1938, and it will continue to be the key to our success in the future.”
President and CEO George Walton described the advantages of the co-op’s introduction of new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and other automated technologies. These technologies proved beneficial for HWEC members when July storms left many in the dark. “Our operations personnel were faced with 3,627 outage locations — all of which had power restored within 28 hours — and most within eight hours.”
The co-op has invested $450,000 in SCADA technology to ensure better service reliability. It also launched an aggressive rebuild program, which included the rebuilding of more than 40 miles of power lines and outdated equipment at a total investment of $4.5 million. More than a half million dollars also was invested in right-of-way maintenance, which involves foliage growth management to protect against power line interference.Walton also spoke about the co-op’s notable financial performance, which keeps it better positioned to keep rates stable.
Walton reflected on the company’s history, “Our forefather members physically dug holes and set poles with their bare hands, and believed in the power of a cooperative with all their hearts — and it worked. It worked across the breadth of this nation and it changed U.S. history so that now members residing in 75 percent of the country’s land mass are served by electric cooperatives,” he concluded.
Olivia Velasquez, a junior at Pandora Gilboa High School, shared the speech that earned her the distinction of being named the national spokesperson for NRECA’s Youth Leadership Council.
“In order to put change in motion, we must consider the emotion of the people involved. For example, before the EPA should ban coal-powered plants for harmful emissions, we must consider how to electrify rural homes, such as ours, without these plants,” Velasquez said.
Operation Round Up Board Chairman Dan Branson predicted that this year the co-op would break the $300,000 mark in donations to the community since the program’s inception in 2008.
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