Strong past fuels vision for the future
While waiting for final votes of the 2018 CREC Board of Directors election to be counted at the co-op’s annual meeting on Aug. 10, CREC General Manager and CEO Doug Tracy spoke to the crowd of nearly 2,000 about the past year, celebrating successes and looking forward to what lies ahead. “Just as success of the past took hard work, planning and perseverance, to be successful in the future, we must do the same,” he said.
>> Member Satisfaction
The American Customer Satisfaction Index score from the past year’s annual survey came in eight points higher than the average Touchstone Energy Cooperative. CREC once again scored very high in rates and reliability. “And our service availability index, a measure of the percentage that service was available to you, was again over 99.9 percent,” Tracy said.
>> Rates remain stable
A nearly 2.5 percent rate increase from CREC’s power supplier, and a 10 percent increase in demand charges resulted in a power cost increase of over $5 million.
“We told you earlier this year that we would carefully track budgets and make changes only if necessary. Revenue projections at this time are ahead of budget and despite our increase in cost of power, your cooperative will not have a rate increase in 2018,” Tracy said. “We’ve had only one rate increase in the past nine years, even as average electric rates nationwide have increased by 24 percent during that time.”
Keeping rates low doesn’t happen by accident. “We continue to look for ways to control costs,” Tracy said, “such as the recent installation of our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), saving us more than $19,000 a month or $230,000 a year. Outage data allows us to diagnose problems more quickly, getting your power restored faster.”
>> Giving back to the community
CREC believes in giving back to the community. “Our capital credits program returns profits, or margins back to you while also keeping your cooperative financially strong,” Tracy said. “In 2018, we retired nearly $7 million back to our members. Our total given back in capital credits is over $87 million since 1976.”
CREC’s Operation Round Up program continues to make a difference. “This past year, over $307,000, made up of pennies from you, was given back to our community,” Tracy said. “$70,000 was given in scholarships to those either in or preparing for college. And now in its 21st year, over $5.2 million has been given to help local individuals and organizations.”
Helping others in need is also important to CREC employees.
“We recently launched a new program, Cuivre Cares. Employees and their families volunteer to assist local charities. In July, nearly 40 of us assisted with a week-long service project in Lincoln County called Troy Story, helping to set up tents, prepare food and feed over 500 volunteers who assisted seniors and residents with disabilities with projects around their homes. We’re excited to help our community and look forward to more projects,” Tracy said.
>> Looking ahead
CREC continues go to grow, crossing over the 65,000 consumer mark in January. “We expect to add over 1,300 more meters this year,” Tracy said, “and see our continuing growth as very positive.”
Tracy said that planning and having a vision for CREC’s future is imperative. “Our Board of Directors and management team will soon begin a strategic planning process, looking at how we can evolve and continue to be a leader in the industry,” he said. “We’ll review everything — annual meetings, additional rate options, our facilities, technology, organizational structure, the services we offer and much more — to determine how we serve you better.”