Harrison Rural Electrification Association (HREA) celebrated 80 years of service at its annual meeting Thursday, April 20, at Liberty High School in Clarksburg. More than 200 members and guests attended.

B. Sharp, president of HREA’s board said, “Your cooperative continued to address the long-term, big picture challenges being presented by internal and external sources. By utilizing data collected with some of our new technology implementations, we were better able to identify and evaluate situations that require more focus. We, along with our engineer, developed a work plan for infrastructure additions, upgrades and replacements that can be achieved without needing/having to borrow additional funds. This allows us the opportunity to improve our service and still reduce long-term debt, which are two of the key components in bringing the Cooperative back to where it should be. To this end, we have been able to stabilize distribution rates since 2010.”

In closing, he spoke about the state of HREA’s Board of Directors. “We would be remiss if we did not recognize the changes that have occurred in our own cooperative’s governance. We spent significant time this past year with a couple of our directors unable to fully participate while they recovered from serious personal medical issues. One was able to return late in the year and the other resigned to focus on his recovery. During this time, the remaining board members kicked their participation levels up a notch to ensure that the entire membership was still receiving representation. We all continue to wish both gentlemen the best in fighting their battles.”

Philip McMillan, secretary/treasurer, said 2016 was another good year for HREA. Among the financial highlights, he noted that total revenue for the year was down, largely due to the Sycamore 2 mine closure and milder weather. Power cost for the year also decreased by approximately $1,439,000. This decrease was largely due to the power supply agreement with AEP Energy Partners, Inc., and the corresponding decrease in energy demand.

He concluded, “All of our Financial Ratios met or exceeded what is required by existing loan covenants.”
In his report to the members, General Manager Terry Stout addressed several issues. Among them, he talked about HREA’s vegetation management program. “We took a huge step forward last year as we completed nearly twice as many miles of right-of-way clearance as in any year previously on record.”

He continued, “Our goal is to get the program on a six-year cycle by following a formal plan. This will allow us to better identify system issues that need correcting and, ultimately improve service reliability.”

Stout discussed HREA’s yearly work projects and debt by saying, “We look at our long-term debt reduction plan and work in as many projects as possible yet refrain from borrowing any additional money. We believe that by the end of May in 2023 we should have everything in order for the long-term without the need for a rate adjustment.” He concluded by fielding questions from members in the audience.

Prior to the meeting, members were treated to dinner and heard entertainment from gospel recording artist J.P. Miller.

Harrison Rural Electrification Association, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, serves more than 6,600 consumers and businesses in portions of Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Marion, Barbour, Taylor and Doddridge counties.