88th Annual Meeting Recap

General Manager Syd Briggs

I wish to express my appreciation for the Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric members and their guests who attended the co-op’s annual meeting Tuesday, June 4.

The weather was warmer than what we have been experiencing this spring, and despite the recent rains, we had a larger attendance than last year, and were able to find parking for everyone attending despite the wet grassy areas used for parking at the annual meeting.

For those unable to attend, I would like to share a portion of the remarks I made at the annual meeting since they pertain to you too, and I hope you may have the opportunity to attend next year’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 3, 2025.

I gave a “shout-out” to our Nominating Committee for doing such a good job searching for board of director candidates. We have always had committed members on the board and it starts with being discovered and nominated by our Nominating Committee.

As you noticed, we had four candidates for District #3. At our cooperative we believe the best way to ensure an objective and progressive board is for the membership to lead in the search for appropriate board candidates. In fact, sometimes members call in after reading about the annual meeting, and have us turn in their name to serve on the board, or for the nominating committee for upcoming years.

Representing Steele-Waseca on the nominating committee requires a little time and dedication to attend two meetings, make some calls and visits, and coordinate with fellow committee members, but is a very rewarding endeavor. As always, if any of you are interested in assisting your cooperative by serving on the nominating committee or the board of directors, or both, please let us know. Just turn in your name to the committee, myself, or Executive Assistant Jenifer Shimpach.

On the topic of personal energy management, we still have great rebates on qualifying air source heat pumps up to as much as $1,000. You may have noticed them in the past couple of Sparks newsletters, and many of you have taken us up on it; however, this rebate is only available through the end of June.

For those who enjoy the convenience of apps on their smartphone, it can be downloaded free on your smartphone, and will quickly and concisely give you information on your account. You need to register to get set up; and if you already access your account on your computer, you just download the app and log in just like on your computer.

It has an easy-to-follow menu for the different categories that you need such as summary, making a payment, and usage and payment history. It provides a history of each month’s total in a very concise manner so you can see how the current month compares to previous months, and when you select usage history, you can see the past 25 months of usage in a very understandable graph.

Many of you have also heard of grants that are available due to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Steele-Waseca is now a part of those grants. We have been granted up to $1 million in state funds through the Department of Commerce State Competitiveness program along with up to a 55% grant from the New Empowering Rural America federal program funds to develop our own source of renewable energy. We are at the very beginning of the process and are evaluating our own wind and solar opportunities.

This year we installed a new electric vehicle charging station near our front entrance adjacent to the flagpole. Our charging station provides four fast-charging stations with the bonus of locally produced renewable energy as the source of power. In addition, part of the funding was provided by Great River Energy, our wholesale power provider. GRE Member Electrification Strategist Rodney DeFouw said he considers our project a potential case study for the cooperative’s full membership to learn from. He feels information gathered from our project will help all of GRE’s members learn more about the direct current fast charger installation process, and behind-the-scenes work needed to accommodate chargers of similar size for the future.