Anza Valley Outlook Staff
Due to pandemic health mandates and meeting restrictions, the Anza Electric Cooperative Inc. held its 70th annual meeting virtually, July 17. A link to the 48-minute presentation was posted on the AEC website and hosted by YouTube. KOYT 97.1 provided an audio simulcast, the election results and a question and answer session live.
Formed and energized in 1955, Anza Electric Cooperative Inc. is a member-owned, nonprofit electric utility providing power for about 5,200 meters representing more than 9,000 people, schools, farms and businesses. The cooperative, serving Anza, Pinyon Pines, Garner Valley and parts of Aguanga, is proud to be celebrating its 70th anniversary, officials said.
The AEC is a Class A member of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, providing wholesale electric power from the Apache Generation station in Cochise, Arizona.
Ryall Stewart, AEC board chairperson, called the meeting to order and introduced the other board members – Chili Ainsworth in District One, Mike Machado and Treasurer Harold Burdick for District Two and Vice President Steve Lauzier and Secretary Stephen Silkotch Sr. for District Three.
The candidates for this year’s board of directors election included Diane L. Sieker, District One; Harold Burdick, District 2; Sharon Hepler, Stephen Silkotch Sr. and Keith Penny for District 3 and Ryall Stewart and Hope Adams for Directors at large.
Secretary Silkotch presented proof of notice of the meeting. Audit Manager Jarrod Bryant, from Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss LLP in Lubbock, Texas, gave the auditor’s report on the financial condition of the AEC via video message.
“Congratulations on your 70th annual meeting,” Bryant said.
The AEC is once again in excellent financial condition, according to Bryant. The Cooperative’s equity to assets ratio indicates good financial health. He went through several graphs, explaining the financials and positive numbers to the membership.
“For any dollar the Cooperative has made, they have given you back 50 cents,” Bryant said. “That is very complimentary of the equity management it has had over the years.”
Burdick said the audit was approved by the AEC board in June. The financial information is available at the AEC offices.
Next to speak was Jessica Nelson, general manager of the Golden State Power Cooperative. This organization provides cost-saving services such as legislative and regulatory lobbying to electric cooperative utilities.
Nelson focused on new policies from the California Energy Commission and explained how it affected the AEC. SB 100 (2018) states that renewable energy and zero-carbon resources supply 100% of electricity sales by 2045.
“SB 100 is technically achievable, though it will raise electricity rates,” she said, adding that The Golden State Power Cooperative will do everything it can to ensure AEC members have clean and affordable power.
California legislators have introduced over 2,500 bills so far this session. The Golden State Power Cooperative is monitoring about 200 bills on behalf of the membership.
Additionally, rural cooperatives have been at the forefront of providing broadband services during these unprecedented times and the AEC is no exception. California has allocated $7 billion for major statewide broadband infrastructure investments. The AEC’s ConnectAnza is an example of how the cooperative model can be used to provide cost effective internet services to its members.
Kevin Short continued the meeting with his general manager’s report and reviewed the progress of the cooperative and updates on various programs.
“Today, following seven decades of challenges and success, I’m pleased to report that our cooperative remains as strong as ever, even during these recent world changing events,” he said.
Short thanked KOYT 97.1 community radio station for their assistance broadcasting the virtual annual meeting.
Short went on to praise the AEC staff and managers, “It’s been my honor and privilege to work with the finest group of dedicated and professional individuals anywhere. The employees of our cooperative are hard at work every day to ensure the best possible utility service for our members.”
Short introduced some key staff members. Government Relations Liaison and Human Resources Director Jennifer Willams, Member Services Manager Debbie Winger, ConnectAnza Network Administrator Shawn Trento, Office Services Laura Snider-Manseau and Operations Manager Brian Baharie were highlighted.
The financial health of the AEC is excellent, Short revealed: $1,837,539 net margins, the highest in AEC history, $7.5 million net margins since 2015; 56% increase in gross revenue since 2015; a 69% increase in Total Plant Value since 2015 and $24.6 million Capital Credit Allocations Total.
Short reported that $12.3 million in capital credits has been retired and returned to the cooperative’s members.
“We lead the electric cooperative industry across the nation by retiring 50% of our capital credits allocated back to our members,” he said.
Short talked about the AEC’s involvement with the community and the various programs that help members.
The AEC proudly sponsors several high school students for the Washington DC Youth Tour. Unfortunately, this program was canceled due to the pandemic but the Cooperative is waiting to hear if and when the program will restart.
The Cooperative Connections helps small businesses within the community, Short said.
The Cooperative Care program, administered by the Anza Thimble Club, has assisted over 350 families with their utility bills with donations of $130,000 to date.
Other charitable partnerships include Anza Community Building, Inc., High Country Recreation, the Anza Scholarship Fund, Food for the Faithful, the Anza Thimble Club, KOTY 97.1 and more.
This month marks two years of partnership with FIND, the High Country Conservancy, Anza Thimble Club, From the Heart Women’s Ministries and Food for the Faithful. Over 7,000 families have been served with 368,373 pounds of food.
“The program is well funded for the next year,” Short said.
He touched upon infrastructure improvements to facilitate reliability and safety.
Short explained the Hoover Dam energy contribution and the Apache Solar Array that help give the Cooperative low-cost renewable sources of power. Also contributing is AEC’s own SunAnza solar array.
The 2-Megawatt SunAnza solar plant, along with the now operational Phase Two 1.4 MW facility, which includes battery storage, can enable the AEC to power at least one grid at a time during a systemwide outage. Another 2.5 MW of battery storage is planned.
The Grid Alternatives/Santa Rosa Community Solar 1 MW project is also now online.
Systemwide outages recorded in 2018-19 numbered 10, he said, with four in 2020.
Southern California Edison has been hardening their circuit and thus improving the AEC’s reliability.
“More recently, our crews performed overnight work to our main substation in preparation of a complete overhaul,” Short said. “This substation has served us faithfully for 70 years but the time has come for a facelift.”
An update on ConnectAnza fiber optic internet service was given, reporting that over 2,700 members are now connected.
The AEC’s rates are much lower than those of SCE and SDG&E. The annual comparison at 1000 KW revealed SCE at $269.76, SDGE at $377.11 and AEC boasting only $163.00, and no change since 2009.
“We have enjoyed very stable rates for over a decade in spite of increased costs of operation,” he added.
Short’s report concluded the meeting, with election results presented via a KOYT 97.1 simulcast.
Elected District One position
Diane L. Sieker
Elected District Two position
Elected District Three position
Stephen Silkotch, Sr.
Elected Director at large position