On Saturday, April 30, 2022, Bill Severson of the member Election and Governance Committee announced the results of OPALCO’s Board of Director election at the Annual Meeting held via Zoom. In District 1 (San Juan et al), Mark Madsen retained his position with 995 votes; followed by challengers Jessa Madosky with 595 and Steven Carelton with 527. In Districts 3 & 4 (Lopez, Decatur et al), the two unopposed candidates were voted in: Brian Silverstein received 1,724 votes and Jerry Whitfield received 1,654 votes. A total of 2,213 ballots were cast, which represents 19.24% of the membership.
Severson encouraged OPALCO members to step up and serve on the volunteer Elections and Governance Committee (EGC). The EGC is responsible for cultivating qualified candidates for each board election. There are currently open positions on the EGC in every district. The time commitment is reasonable: committee members work year-round on a casual basis to identify potential candidates; meetings are concentrated November through January during the election season.
About 165 people logged in to participate in the annual membership meeting on Zoom. In the state of the co-op address, Board President Vince Dauciunas opened the meeting with a call to action to get rid of fossil fuels: “. . . the real urgency for us, living in the heart of the Salish Sea, is to eliminate carbon pollution from our air and water to protect our beautiful and sensitive marine environment and all of the species who live here. The most significant thing we can do is to switch to electricity for heating and transportation. The work to get new renewable resources built, to shore up the regional transmission system, to address where our power is going to come from over the next decade and more . . . these solutions are going to take time, lots of money and political will. We have to act now to wean ourselves from the long habit of fossil fuels. The result is a lasting improvement to our environment – and there’s too much at stake to wait.”
General Manager Foster Hildreth thanked the co-op team at OPALCO – from the leadership on the Board to the Member Service Representatives who answer the phones day in and day out – and recognized the linecrew for their essential work to keep the power reliable. Hildreth outlined OPALCO’s core values: safety, reliability, cost-effectiveness and sustainability and briefly described the Co-op’s accomplishments in these key areas. Hildreth touted OPALCO (99.87%) and Rock Island’s (99.99%) near perfect reliability rates in 2021 and thanked the team again for keeping members connected and safe during the past two years of pandemic isolation and disruption.
Hildreth announced the second Co-op Community Solar Project – the Bailer Hill Microgrid – which will open for member subscriptions this summer, and encouraged members to take advantage of $46M available to finance member efficiency projects through the Switch it Up program. He advised members to participate in the series of Island Way workshops, which give members access to the tools and incentives they need to future proof their homes and businesses.
Also announced was a new business “happy deal” of incentives, technical assistance and grant opportunities for commercial members. The Energize the San Juans campaign is a partnership with Sustainable Connections, funded by the USDA, to offer access to:
- Super discounted, low-cost energy audit for any size business
- USDA Grants that could cover 25% of solar & energy improvements for rural businesses
- Up to $5,000 in energy saving incentives from the Community Energy Challenge - including up to $1,000 in LED light bulbs
- 26% Tax credit on solar panel cost
- On-bill financing for up to $100k on your OPALCO bill at 2%
Thanks to donations from OPALCO’s generous vendors and partners, about 30 door prizes were given out to members attending the meeting including electric lawn tools, emergency prep kits, battery backups for computers and electric home goods and gift cards. Prizes were provided by: Carlson Sales Metering Solutions, Cooperative Response Center, Evergreen Consulting, General Pacific, Island Excavating, Jen-Jay Inc., Orcas Construction Co., PNGC, Schrock, Rock Island Communications
Based on roll taken during the annual meeting, members who attended the entire meeting will receive a $10 bill credit (one per membership). The following co-op members who voted in this years election will receive a $50 bill credit after their names were randomly drawn from all ballots received: Wilfred & Nancy Johnson, David & Judy Kennedy, William & Norma Brimmer, Jeffrey & Dianne Dyer, David Anderson, Gerald & Carole Anderson, Robin Gates, Darcie Nelson, Clifford Harby & Julia Murray and Sanford & Corky Olson
OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) to hold an annual meeting each year. Members who missed the meeting can read the 2021 Annual Report online (www.opalco.com).
The next Island Way events are:
- Zoom Workshop: “How will climate change affect my power bill” May 11 at 5 pm
- Electric Vehicle Jamboree at the San Juan County Fairgrounds on June 8th from 3 – 6 pm
Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is our member-owned cooperative electric utility, serving more than 11,400 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 97% greenhouse-gas free and is generated predominantly by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937. Follow OPALCO @OrcasPower on Facebook and Twitter.