Cooperative members were informed that in the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Survey your Cooperative received the highest score it has ever received and is well above the national average for electric cooperatives, well above the investor owned utility average and well above the municipal utility average. The key drivers to member satisfaction included reliable service, knowledgeable employees, prompt outage response, employee performance and excellent customer service.
Cooperative members were informed that the past decade has proved to be the most regulated time in our history with new, very aggressive and expansive regulations around the use of fossil fuels and especially coal. However, the election of President Donald Trump and his administration represents a dramatic shift in environmental policy. On March 28th, President Trump signed an Executive Order to roll back several environmental regulations by instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the process of withdrawing and rewriting these plans. The Trump Administration believes that rewriting these plans will help keep energy cost affordable and help the coal industry.
Cooperative members learned that new technological advances in the oil and natural gas drilling techniques are leading to many changes in the electric generation industry. These new drilling technologies allow more economical extraction methods and are creating an abundance of supply in these resources. These new technologies have allowed oil and gas producers to extract these resources much more efficiently resulting in natural gas becoming a low-cost fuel for electricity generation.
The new technological advancements along with increased regulation of coal fired generation facilities over the past decade have created a significant shift in electric generation in the United States. In 2008, coal provided 48% of the total electricity generation in the United States while natural gas only provided 21%. In 2016, coal generation had declined and provided only 30% of the total electricity generation while natural gas increased and provided 34%, surpassing coal to become the leading natural resource for electricity generation. As the industry moves, only time will tell how the dramatic shift in environmental policy surrounding fossil fuels and new technologies for natural gas will shape our industry in the future.
As you know, your Cooperative is part owner of Southern Illinois Power Cooperative located at the Lake of Egypt. SIPC utilizes a diversified portfolio of electricity generation including coal, natural gas, hydro and wind power. However, the vast majority of your Cooperative’s power production (like that in many other Midwestern states) remains coal-fired. Your Cooperative understands the importance of coal to the Southern Illinois economy. SIPC provides numerous direct and indirect jobs while making significant contributions to our local economy while providing you, as our member owners, with electricity for many years into the future.
Lastly, the members were informed that your Cooperative will receive a slight increase in the cost of wholesale power that is purchased from Southern Illinois Power Cooperative to cover their cost of operations and this has been reflected in the wholesale power cost adjustment charge. Your Cooperative has no plans to increase the retail rates in 2017; however, sales to large industrial loads have begun to decline; therefore your Cooperative will be reviewing the level of energy sales for the remaining part of 2017 and all of next year in order to determine the need for a slight increase in the base retail rates.
Your Cooperative was formed 79 years ago to bring electricity to rural areas of southeastern Illinois. The founders of the electric cooperative program developed a unique business structure that by its very nature, makes electric cooperatives very accountable to the members it serves. Your Cooperative is governed by local people that live and work in your very own communities. Your Cooperative is also managed and operated by a group of local employees that also live and work in your very own communities. Your Cooperative is owned by the people it serves and will continue to be an electric cooperative that is truly operated “for the people and by the people.”
See you next month and as always, "We'll keep the lights on for you."