September 19, 2017

79th Annual Meeting Held by SMECO

79th annual meeting

The 79th annual meeting of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative was held Aug. 23, 2017, and members were elected to serve three-year terms on the SMECO board.

The election was held by mail before the meeting. Nancy W. Zinn was elected for Calvert County; William L. Purnell for Charles County; Daniel W. Dyer for Prince George’s County; and J. Douglas Frederick and Joseph V. Stone Jr. for St. Mary’s County. No amendments to the bylaws were included on this year’s ballot.

Bylaw changes were made in 2016. SMECO members voted to amend the bylaw outlining requirements for meetings and voting, so the election this year was conducted entirely by mail. Ballots were sent to customer-members on July 21, and they were instructed to return ballots through the mail by Aug. 16.

Close to 9,500 members voted; results of the election were announced at the meeting.

While speaking at the meeting, SMECO President and CEO Austin J. Slater Jr. said an electric cooperative’s customer-members have the ability to vote every year for representatives serving on the board. While SMECO has about 137,000 members, last year only 882 members registered at the meeting or by absentee mail-in ballot. This year, with the mail-in voting, nearly 11 times as many members voted.

Mr. Slater also said in his remarks that SMECO has installed 120,000 new smart meters throughout Southern Maryland. The co-op expects the new meters to improve outage response time, save money, and increase efficiency. Last months members saw a capital credit general refund of $2.85 million on their bills, “just one more advantage our members enjoy by being part of a cooperative,” Mr. Slater said. He also explained the cost of power has gone down and is now lower than it has been for more than 12 years. When approval for a recent rate filing comes though, it will reduce SMECO’s distribution costs by almost $2 million.

Mr. Slater said that at a Public Service Commission hearing July 25, SMECO had the best score in the state for the number of outages in 2016. The co-op also met all state standards for restoration of service during regular operations and major storm events. The average time for a SMECO customer care center representative to answer a phone call is just 21 seconds, and 85 percent of calls are answered within 30 seconds.

At the annual meeting, SMECO displayed informational about smart meters and EmPOWER Maryland programs, which help customers save money and energy. Richard A. Winkler, chairman of SMECO’s Board of Directors, welcomed customer-members to the event and called the meeting to order. J. Ernest Bell II of Leonardtown was the meeting chairman, a job he has taken since 1999. Guest speaker Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, agreed with Mr. Slater’s remarks and reiterated the value of cooperative membership and customers’ ability to vote for their representatives. Customer-members who returned their ballots were eligible to win one of 60 electric bill credits of $50 each.

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader member page.

Leave A Comment