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Online Meeting Recap
By: Chris Reese, President & CEO
Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative is an organization founded by and dedicated to supporting the needs of our members and our community. As a part of this commitment, each year we host an Annual Meeting where we have the opportunity to speak with members face-to-face, provide food and prizes, and to foster the Co-op’s bond with its membership. It is an important part of our foundational values and something myself, SREC’s employees, and the board of directors place a lot of importance on.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to host a meeting last year. We instead shifted our focus to 2021, but even then it was unclear where the state of New Jersey would be in a year’s time. During this planning stage in late winter/early spring, our board of directors reached the decision that Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative would have to cancel its Annual Meeting once again. Not wanting to go another year without addressing our members, our board decided for the first time ever to host an Online Meeting.
On the morning of Monday, June 7th, we launched all of the contents of our Online Meeting on our website. In this article I will go into detail on some of the key things addressed as part of 2021’s Online Meeting and look beyond. If you happened to miss it when it was new, don’t worry - you can still access all of this at www.sussexrec.com/online-meeting.
At the top of our Online Meeting webpage, you’ll find a welcome video that explains the nature of our Online Meeting (and of course, the prize drawing). It’s here that we make the formal announcement that we will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. However, our office remains fully staffed and we are here to help you with anything you may need – all you have to do is reach out, whether by phone, email, or social media. This video serves as both an introduction to the Online Meeting and a message from our employees to our members – we may be closed to the public, but we’re still here for you!
Board Election Results
A key element of our Annual Meeting is always to announce the results of the year’s Board of Directors election. The board consists of nine elected members, with one from each of our three districts coming up for re-election after a three year term. As a member-owned electric utility, our members have the opportunity to run and vote for the board of directors during each year’s election, which we have conducted by mail since 2014.
This year’s election was uncontested, with Tom Madsen from District 1, Ron Dupont from District 2, and Barbara Berge-Miller from District 3 each achieving re-election. Congratulations to these three members of our board who will continue to dutifully serve our members!
Alongside the release of our Online Meeting, we formally announced our scholarship awards for the year. These students from the class of 2021 have had to put up with disruptions in regular schedules and shifts between online and in-person learning, so this year we are especially proud of the achievements of our scholarship recipients. Our Scholarship in Memory of James Howard Goodwin was awarded to two students from High Point Regional High School – Olivia Dunn and Kassie Britt. Our Trade School/Certification Scholarship, which we introduced in 2019 to specifically support the growth of the trades in our community, was awarded to Reiss Little and William Bassett, both students at Sussex County Technical School. Congratulations and best of luck as you pursue your bright futures!
Messages from Legislators
This will be a short note in the overall recap of our Online Meeting, but I feel it would be unfair not to spotlight the messages provided by Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Senator Steve Oroho for our Online Meeting. We often host representatives of our area or staffers from their offices at our Annual Meetings, and it was wonderful that these two were able to provide encouraging and supportive messages to the Co-op and our members. Thanks to you both!
Financials, Chairman’s Address, and Q&A
Board Secretary/Treasurer Ray Cordts gave an address on the Co-op’s financial standing. A more detailed look at our finances is of course available in our 2021 Annual Report, which was sent out to members in May’s issue of Currents. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board Jack Haggerty delivered his own address in another video, touching on SREC’s current role in the energy market and what the near future may look like for us.
We also released a video where I answered some questions submitted by members who had registered online for our prize drawing. I had the opportunity to go into detail on topics that include renewable energy, if and how our grid connects with JCP&L’s, and establishment of a time-of-use rate for electric vehicle charging. If you’ve been wondering about any of these matters, I highly encourage you to take a look at this Q&A video for more information. Our Online Meeting webpage includes time codes so you can easily find the exact question you may be looking for.
Eyes on the Prize
While an Online Meeting could never fully capture all of the value of an in-person meeting, we felt it was important to reward our members’ interest with the opportunity to enter a prize drawing, much like we do for the in-person Annual Meetings. This year, members who voted in our board election or registered online were entered into the prize drawing, with 49 prizes available. Those who did both earned two chances to win. This year’s grand prize was a free year’s worth of electricity, valued at $1,250 based on average annual usage of a residential member.
We randomly chose our 49 winners from our list of voters and registrants and made formal announcement of winners on our site. We have already notified all the winners so you would know by now if you were among them, but I still encourage you to check out the video to see the kinds of things members of our community won through this contest!
With the 2021 Online Meeting behind us and COVID-19 cases trending downwards as vaccination rates rise, we are again able to look forward to the prospect of another in-person Annual Meeting. We are already beginning to plan our 2022 Annual Meeting of Members and celebrate Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative’s 85th anniversary. That’s 85 years of serving the energy needs of our community and providing the highest quality of service at the lowest possible cost!
We have many things planned for the rest of the year – some that we can soon share and some that are still in the works. One exciting new development I would like to share is a promotion we are running during the month of July. This month we are offering a $5 bill credit to new and current members that sign up for automatic bank drafts on our billing site, as well as a chance to win a roll of Forever Stamps! There are many benefits to enrolling and we want to do what we can to incentivize members even more. You can find more information on this program at www.sussexrec.com/drafts. To make this even easier for everyone, you can call our office at 973-875-5101 and our billing team will help get you set up.
I hope that this recap has been informative. If you haven’t yet seen our Online Meeting and anything I’ve mentioned here has piqued your interest, you can find it all at www.sussexrec.com/online-meeting. I hope you all enjoy, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you at 2022’s Annual Meeting!