Growing stronger together
Adapting to a new challenge can be an opportunity to improve. Over the past two years, pandemic restrictions have forced many changes for your cooperative and the world around us. In some cases, those changes have led to new efficiencies. Your Board of Directors has been working to respond to those challenges and make improvements at the same time.
After a 7-month delay, the 84th annual meeting was held on June 24. The meeting was shorter than those in the past and was more comfortable in the spacious Clearwater River Casino Event Center. Coffee and cookies were served and everyone received an attendance prize. Many door prizes were awarded including a $300 bill credit.
Attorney Sonyalee Nutsch presented a package of bylaw amendments which were approved as one ballot item. She also led the election process for the candidates up for re-election: Jeff Copeland from District 2 and Tom Hutchinson from District 7. Both were re-elected.
Clearwater Power Board President Ken Weiss explained the work the board has undertaken updating cooperative bylaws. The hopes of those changes are to increase flexibility for the future. “We adopt changes that will allow our cooperative to have more flexibility, like the use of electronic meetings, to deal with these new unprecedented times in which we find ourselves,” Ken said. Other bylaw changes included establishing and clarifying minimum qualifications to run and serve on the board of directors, nominations by petition, removal of nominations from the floor and other housekeeping items.
President Weiss also discussed the upcoming longterm wholesale power contract with Bonneville Power Administration. Mr. Weiss stated, “The wholesale cost of power is the Cooperative’s single largest expense and in 2021 was just under $9 Million or approximately 40% of your monthly bill. We need to decide on our post-2028 wholesale power supply in the next few years as BPA is planning on offering long-term contracts in late 2025.”
General Manager/CEO Dave Hagen discussed the incredible growth in our region over the past year. “The State of Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the Nation. In 2021, we added 312 new accounts and 25 miles of underground line, which makes 2021 one of the busiest new construction years in recent history,” Mr. Hagen said. He went on to add, “We’ve grown to just over 11,300 accounts across 3 states and eleven counties.” Mr. Hagen also discussed Clearwater Power’s wildfire mitigation plan and how the cooperative has been dealing with unprecedented supply chain issues.
The meeting concluded with a lengthy Q&A session which revolved mostly around the future of hydropower in the northwest, specifically the four Lower Snake dams. Mr. Hagen said, “We believe those dams are crucial to keeping the lights on in the northwest.” He went on to explain that those dams play a significant role in preventing rolling blackouts, keeping rates affordable, and are critical for plans to ‘de-carbonize’ and electrify the Northwest, noting electric vehicles as one of those measures that will greatly depend on a reliable power grid. Another member asked what people can do to make their voices heard regarding this issue. To that, Mr. Hagen responded that the issue really does start “at the grassroots level” but he added that the cooperative and its manager are directly involved in this issue, citing his position on the Northwest River Partners board of directors as a platform from which this critical issue can be navigated.