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CoServ serves up info at annual meeting

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A crowd of several thousand CoServ Electric Cooperative members gathered at the festooned UNT coliseum on June 25 for a mouth-watering barbeque dinner catered by Meat U Anywhere, and the annual member business meeting.

Co-op management, including Mike Dreyspring the President/CEO, shook hands and chatted with members at the door.  Co-op staff in green polo shirts and black pants waited tables and managed logistics with aplomb.

The meeting’s theme, promoted by a spiderman-ish pep squad of Captain CoServ and eCoGrid Electron decked out in capes and basketball shorts, was “Let’s Get Social.”

Every member in attendance will receive a $20 rebate on their next power bill.  Think about all this next year before you throw out your ballot and dinner reservation ticket.

Informative slideshows on three overhead screens replaced traditional printed programs, and if that wasn’t enough, the Co-op filled a room with poised customer service reps and technicians at information tables to answer any and all questions.  They set up old and new advanced meters and visual monitoring equipment to demonstrate how and why things work.

Following the invocation and national anthem the assembly honored CoServ employee U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Tony Ariza, who recently returned to work after serving on an active duty tour in Afghanistan.

Clyde Geer, Board Chairman, called the meeting to order and General Counsel Kevin Haney announced the results of the Board election conducted by member mail-in balloting which met the bylaws quorum requirement of 1% that enabled the meeting to conduct business.  The members returned the full 2012 Board of 6 men and 1 woman to their jobs.

CoServ is a growing not-for-profit electric utility that serves households and businesses in Denton, Collin, Wise, Tarrant, Grayson, and Cooke Counties.  It now has about 170,000 electric meters and its affiliate, CoServ Gas, serves about 81,000 natural gas meters in a similar service area.

Dreyspring said the electric utility had just completed deployment of 160,000+ advanced meters, often called “smart meters,” and that 99% of these are being read electronically.  Advanced meters also play a large role in preventing energy emergencies, and improving power restoration after service interruptions, Dreyspring said.

He talked about the Co-op’s upcoming enhanced website project, which includes an automated outage map, communications preferences, and real-time information about power usage and disruptions.  He commented on energy prices which tend to be higher in the summer.  CoServ buys power from a wholesaler, Brazos Electric Cooperative.  Rates have been suppressed by an artificially depressed natural gas market and an energy-only market that offers little incentives for investment in new power generation facilities.    The PUC responded to this market dysfunction by increasing the systemwide price cap per megawatt hour – it will rise through 2015, and CoServ’s analysis indicates deregulated retail rates will rise as well but CoServ Members will be protected against this market volatility.

Dreyspring urged members to order free energy audits to determine how they can use power more efficiently, and reduce their monthly energy bills.  The Co-op is also planning a solar project and offers a Residential Wind Energy Rate so that Members can participate in renewable energy programs.

Lucky members present took home a raft of door prizes in the form of merchant gift cards (purchased from business members in the CoServ territory), substantial power bill credits, and a 2005 Ford F-150 retired from the Co-op fleet. 

For more photos of the 2013 CoServ Electric Annual Meeting, visit Facebook.com/CoServEnergy.

Since its inception in 2004, the CoServ Charitable Foundation has given community organizations in its service area 476 grants that amount to nearly $5 million total.  Most of this money derives from the Co-op’s “Operation Round Up” initiative. Participating members have their bills rounded up to the nearest dollar which averages about $.50 a month per member, and the foundation puts that extra cash to work in the community.

Find details about all these topics at the Co-op website, CoServ.com.

Members often ask for clarification about capital credits, so here it is without MBA argle-bargle.

A Co-op member is different from a retail gas/electric customer in that a member owns a piece of the not-for-profit Co-op.  Members– like investors in retail power companies– have some say via the Board of Directors in how the Co-op is managed. 

A capital credit is a unit of the margin, the rough equivalent of a retail power company stock dividend.  The number of capital credits a member receives each time the Co-op turns a profit or margin is based on his/her power usage during the same accounting period.

Capital credits come to members as “equity investments” in the Co-op that cannot be paid until the end of their retirement cycle declared by the Board. The Co-op uses the members’ equity for expenses and growth until the end of the retirement cycle.  A typical retirement cycle is 20 years or longer.

Co-op management keeps a running total of capital credits allocated to each member, and as the Co-op ages the number of capital credit cycles increases.  When approved by the Co-op’s Board, Members and Former Members receive the retired capital credits in the form of a bill credit or check.

Members who have moved away, but left the Co-op a current forwarding address, receive an actual check for retired credits since they no longer receive a monthly bill.  Note: It is the member’s responsibility to let the Co-op know any and all new addresses.

If you review your utility bills for the last year, about $2,500 worth of expenses, the following averages will grab your attention.  Heating/cooling cost you about $1,400, lights and appliances cost about $575, the water heater ate up $400, and the fridge cost $125.  How can you cut costs?

CoServ suggests your set your thermostats at 78 or higher in the summer, and 68 or lower in the winter.  Ceiling fans move refrigerated air around which evaporates the perspiration on your skin so you feel cooler.  Just turn off the fan when you leave a room.  Wear sweaters in the winter.

Replace your HVAC filters every 30-90 days (or according to manufacturer specs).  Maintain your equipment.  Use solar screens, window tints, and blinds and curtains that keep the heat and cold where they belong seasonally.

Banish phantom energy loads, a whopping 5-7% of your monthly bill, by unplugging unused appliances and electronic devices.

Try out compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Buy them a few at a time.  They use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and have a much longer life in most instances.  Of course turn off the light when you leave a room.  Did you know a 100 watt bulb glows with 50% more light than four 25 watt bulbs in most cases?

Set your water heater to 120 degrees (or lower).  Insulate electric heaters with special water heater blankets.  Take short showers, use low-flow showerheads and faucets, fix leaky plumbing, wash/rinse clothes with cold water.

Keep the fridge coils clean of dust.  Set the freezer somewhere between 0 and 32 degrees, and set the fridge between 38 and 42 degrees.  Check the door seals for a tight fit.  Save about $30 a month by not using garage refrigerators.

CoServ offers members a raft of rebates and incentives in its “9 Ways to SaveRebate Program.”  Get the details and applications at CoServ.com>TOGETHERW
ESAVE>Residential Rebates
.

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