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KEM Electric meeting draws crowd to Linton

Posted 6/23/10 (Wed)

The comments were part of Knox’s report to the membership at KEM’s 66th annual meeting held in the Linton School Gym on Thursday, June 17, 2010.
Knox said the KEM crew worked many hours to restore electrical service to farms and to replace the 1,500 poles destroyed. He said the damage totaled approximately $4 million. Of that amount the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse 75 percent with state emergency funds paying another 15 percent, which leaves 15 percent—$600,000—for KEM to pay.
He noted that KEM was fortunate compared with its sister co-op across the river. Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative at Flasher sustained $40 million in damage and lost over 11,000 poles.
Knox discussed the outlook for rates, and he said rate increases are likely to come based on the cost of wholesale electricity and other supplies. He said North Dakota co-ops have one of the lowest average rates in the country at 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares with 8.3 cents in South Dakota and 9.7 cents in Minnesota.
He expressed concern about proposed federal budget cuts that could affect the Rural Utilities Service where KEM borrows money at lower than private market interest rates. Higher interest rates would also impact the cost of electricity.
Knox pointed out that KEM retired $350,751 in capital credits this year as part of its 20-year cycle.
Postcards were distributed that KEM will send to the North Dakota Congressional delegation to push for fair treatment of electricity generated from coal. Basin Electric Power Cooperative is KEM’s major source of electricity (along with the Western Area Power Administration which provides electricity generated from the Missouri River dams), and Basin relies heavily on coal-fired power plants, most of which are located in North Dakota.
Mike Eggl, senior vice president at Basin Electric, addressed the members, explaining the implications of climate change legislation for the generation and transmission cooperative which produces about 4,500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, primarily from coal which is supplemented by natural gas and wind energy (750 MW).
He expressed concern that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mentioned fly ash from coal-fired plants as a hazardous material.
Eggl said Basin Electric and other cooperatives are meeting with Congressional leaders to try to head off unworkable changes that would be problematic for coal-fired plants, and he said the industry is investing heavily into improved technology to reduce carbon emissions.
Basin Electric, a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative, was incorporated in 1961 to provide supplemental power to a consortium of rural electric cooperatives. It now has a diverse energy portfolio with coal, gas, oil, nuclear, distributed and renewable energy. It serves 135 member cooperative systems. Members’ service territories comprise 540,000 square miles in nine states.
Board election
Two directors were re-elected to the board, and a third director was elected to fill a vacancy. In District 3, incumbent Milton Brandner of Zeeland defeated Mark Dohn of Venturia, who was nominated from the floor. The tally was 78 to 73. Victor J. Wald of Napoleon was elected without opposition to a one-year term to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Willie Piatz, also of Napoleon. For District At-Large, Dean Hummel of Hague was re-elected without opposition.
There were 175 voting members present at the meeting, and over 450 meals were served.
Financial report
There was no financial report presented during the meeting, but members were given a copy of the 2009 annual report.
The co-op’s operating revenue increased from 2008’s $5,863,444 to $6,227,023, and total margins and patronage capital increased for the same period from $720,770 to $773,086.
KEM sold 72,557,501 KWH of electricity, which compares with 48,667,576 KWH in 1989 and 56,343,968 in 2004.
The cooperative has total assets of $33,502,100 and long-term debt of $12,421,153.
KEM has 2,114 members, which compares with 2,198 in 2000. However, there are 3,637 meters an increase from 2000’s 3,316. There are 2,988 miles of line and .71 members per mile.
The average monthly bill in 2009 was $205.38, which compares with $112.01 in 2000. Average monthly usage increased from 1,378 KWH in 2000 to 2,502 in 2009.
Operation Roundup
Tony Schaffner of Zeeland, who chairs KEM’s Operation Roundup, reported on donations made by the charitable group which is funded by participating members who “roundup” their bills to the next dollar.
Serving with Schaffner are Jean Schoenhard of Steele, Bernie Schiermeister of Hazelton, Gerard Meier of Zeeland, Viola Gefroh of Hague, Pam Gross of Napoleon and Dan Schuler of Wishek.
Donations in the six years Operation Roundup has been in existence total $49,328.
Currently, 58 percent of KEM’s membership participate in the program.
Door prizes
Door prize winners include: Deep Fryer (Wesco), Del Roy and Cynthia Ketterling, Wishek; Spot Light, St. Michaels Church, Linton; Surge Protector, Gerald Rau, Ashley; First Aid Kit, Blake Bechtle, Wishek; 25' Extension Cord, Albert Leroy Clark, Venturia; Portable Fan Heater, Timothy Volk, Linton; Captains Lawn Chair, Robert and Iris Hammond, Napoleon; $25 Energy Credit, Ken Vander Vorst, Pollock; Weather Station, Leo Haas, Venturia; 12' Table Fan, Michael J. Welder, Napoleon; First Aid Kit, Lawrence Enzminger, Tappen; $25 Energy Credit, Timothy and Jane Heier, Hague; 36" Tower Fan, Christine Ottmar, Wishek; Electric Knife, Eugenia Schumacher, Linton; Ceramic Heater, Isadore Gross, Kintyre; First Aid Kit, Leona Miller, Streeter; $25 Energy Credit, Michael J. and Marjorie Horner, Napoleon; Captains Lawn Chair, Frances Schaffer, Wishek; Spot Light, Donald and Mary Ohlhauser, Linton; 25' Extension Cord, Katherine Becker, Pollock; 2 CFL light Bulbs, Hilluard Kemmet, Dawson; Oscillating Ceramic Heater, Oscar and Joan Rau, Ashley; $25 Energy Credit, Fred Heer, Bismarck; First Aid Kit, Blair and Doreen Bechtle, Wishek; Captains Lawn Chair, Albert and Mary Schumacher, Napoleon, and 12V Screw Driver (HDR), Aloys Dosch, Strasburg.
Gifts From Border States—Marvin and Florence Grenz, Napoleon; Ralph and Marlene Feist, Linton; Adam Vetter, Linton; Arthur J. and Violet Meidinger, Zeeland; Arthur and Jean Rudy, Linton; Brooks Bechtle, Wishek; John and Bonnie Kautz, Wishek; Richard and Dorothy Nicklos, Linton; Rolland and Joanie Sayler, Wishek, and James Hollaar, Herreid.
Winner of the grand prize, a 22" Flat Screen TV, was the Bakker School District at Westfield. Mary Ann Haan accepted the prize for the district. The person whose name was drawn for the $500 cash prize was not present.
Employees
Employees of KEM Electric, in addition to CEO Knox, are Richard Ibach, Line Superintendent; Brian Jacob, Manager of Member Services; Roberta Nagel, Office Manager; Gary Hulm, General Foreman; Jeff Gefre, Area Foreman; Dave Twardoski, Journeyman Lineman; Ken Schneider, Journeyman Lineman; Tim Dockter, Journeyman Lineman; Paul Hewitt, Area Foreman; Jake Zink, Journeyman Lineman; Jeff Werner, Warehouseman/Purchasing Clerk; Diane Grossman, Plant Accountant; Lisa Cross, Billing Clerk; Dawn Schiele, Executive Assistant; Marvel Malpert, Temporary Employee, and Gerald and Ramona Birdsell, Custodians.
(Editor’s note: Several of the pictures with this story were taken by LPT Images of Mandan. We appreciate the use of the photos.)

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