July 7, 2022

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SMECO Holds 77th Annual Meeting

SMECO annual meeting
Winners of $100 cash attendance prizes from St. Mary’s County, David Farrell and Stanley Pilkerton.
Posted for SMECO

Members of the board of directors at Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative were elected at the 77th annual meeting Sept. 2. The co-op had 819 members vote during the meeting and another 394 members voted by absentee mail-in ballot.

The following SMECO members were elected to serve on SMECO’s Board for three years: Samuel “Jack” Hammett in Calvert County; Fern G. Brown and Kenneth L. Dyson in Charles County; and W. Rayner Blair III and William R. Cullins III in St. Mary’s County. Customer-members also voted to accept several bylaw amendments.

During the meeting, SMECO’s president and CEO, Austin J. Slater, Jr., reviewed the co-op’s activities of the past year in his remarks. Slater discussed what he believes is customers’ highest priority: reliable and dependable electric service. He told the audience that the Maryland Public Service Commission announced in August that SMECO was determined to be the only electric utility in the state to have met or exceeded all of the Commission’s 2014 service quality and reliability standards. He described how SMECO’s electric grid was put to the test the past two winters, with load reaching an all-time system peak of 1,003 megawatts on Feb. 20, 2015.

Slater also explained that the co-op’s Southern Maryland Reliability Project was completed in November 2014. The project took seven years and cost $108 million and completes a 230-kilovolt loop, first envisioned in the early 1970s, through SMECO’s service territory. He said the criticality of the line was demonstrated in April when Pepco experienced a failure near Ryceville that shut down a significant number of SMECO customers, as well as parts of suburban Maryland and Washington, D.C. New line and substation construction projects in Charles County were also highlighted. According to Slater, “with this construction comes costs, and not surprisingly, reliability does have a price tag.” Slater went on to describe SMECO’s rates for energy and the cost of delivering energy.

SMECO was awarded its eighth J.D. Power award for superior residential customer service, and Slater credited customer surveys with revealing trends toward mobile phones, laptops, and tablets and away from desktop PCs. Slater said that more than half of SMECO customers have elected electronic billing and that the co-op works to keep pace with advancing technologies. Renewables and solar energy are becoming an increasingly important component of SMECO’s energy mix, according to Slater. And customers interested in solar can use a tool on the co-op’s website called WattPlan to step through an analysis that uses aerial maps and sophisticated calculations to produce financial estimates. Community solar is also on SMECO’s roadmap, Slater said.

In the concourse of the stadium, SMECO hosted informational displays about its customer programs and services with an emphasis on emergency preparedness and power restoration. The co-op now offers a text messaging service and a mobile-friendly Web app, SMECO 24/7, for reporting outages and paying bills. Customers can download the free app from Google Play or Apple iTunes. For the texting service, customers text REG, for registration, to 76326, for SMECO, on their phone to be able to report outages and receive status updates. More information is available on SMECO’s website. For the first time at a SMECO annual meeting, customer-members could participate in a scavenger hunt by visiting each display table and learning about the co-op’s programs. More than 170 participants were rewarded with a tee shirt emblazoned with “SMECO members rock 24/7” across the back.

Co-op personnel were on hand to provide information about energy-saving programs such as CoolSentry and the Quick Home Energy Check-up. Customers could ask questions of employees who work in the Co-op’s rates department and meter operations. Customer-members were also encouraged to enroll in SMECO’s Members Helping Members program to donate a monthly amount to help less fortunate residents keep their power on. Participation in the Action Committee for Rural Electrification was also encouraged.

Registered members were eligible to win one of 50 electric bill credits of $50 each. In addition, winners of 15 cash prizes of $100 each and a well-traveled SMECO vehicle were randomly selected from the registered members in attendance. Elaine Morgan of Hollywood won the SMECO vehicle, a four-door 2004 Chevy Malibu, with AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and 104,000 miles.

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