2019: Another Successful Year Ends

2019: Another Successful Year Ends
By Steve Foss, CEO

 

At the end of the year I reflect on the accomplishments FreeState has achieved. Our employees work hard to make members a priority while keeping tabs on industry changes and challenges. I thought I’d share with you four of our most significant accomplishments this year. 

Annual Meeting

We had an incredible turnout this year in Perry. We had members from all corners of our service territory come to Perry-Lecompton High School to be a part of what makes the cooperative unique – democratic control. We held a trustee election, discussed cooperative business, and once again shared the financial stability and success consolidation has had for our members. 

Investing in Infrastructure and Generation

FreeState invested in large industrial generators at the Lakewood Hills and Oskaloosa substations. The purpose of the large investment was to save money through peak demand management. Why? Because generation of our own power during peak demand reduces the amount of energy purchased for members, and that means saving money on the wholesale cost of electricity. 

The co-op also saw a hefty influx of capital from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), providing essential cash flow for maintenance and construction of infrastructure that will enhance reliability, safety, and affordability. The $14.9 million loan is part of a program that provides low-interest funding while standardizing rural engineering and environmental requirements. 

The investment from RUS, will be used to build 82 miles of line and upgrade 134 miles of line along with other system improvements across the service territory. The loan amount also includes $130,000 for technology upgrades.

Returning Money to Members and Retiring Capital Credits 

Our most significant accomplishment was giving back excess savings to our members in the form of a consolidation savings adjustment. 

We gave back $400,000 in realized savings all due to the consolidation, and we continue to save our members money. I want to recognize the FreeState staff who work so hard to keep costs down and spend responsibly. We were able to retire another round of capital credits because our margins were higher than we anticipated. We retired $800,000 to both long-time members and newer members. Our hybrid system of retiring these capital credits is allowing us to benefit more members and that’s what the cooperative difference is all about. 

Giving Back to Communities

When it comes to concern for the community, our members have provided more than $88,000 to 14 area programs and organizations that are making a difference in the communities we serve. We have a group of volunteer members who have given their time and talents to ensure that money collected from the Operation Round-Up program goes right back into the community. In 2019, two highlights of giving were to first responder units in McLouth and Auburn to purchase life-saving equipment. 

We’ve also given funding to public libraries, schools, and food pantries. A grant was also awarded to build a city park in Auburn. 

As we highlighted last month, FreeState employees gave a sizable donation to F.W. Huston in Winchester through our CoBank Sharing Success grant program. 

As we continue to move forward, we know that it takes much more than electricity to power our members. I also want to remind each of you to take a breather this holiday season and enjoy the blessings in your life.