Mail-in ballot results announced at 88th annual meeting

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric members in attendance for the co-op’s 88th annual meeting Tuesday, June 4, learned the results of the co-op’s first-ever mail-in ballot for three director seats.

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Attorney Tricia Lancaster announced to the 461 registered members in attendance that a total of 1,408 mail-in ballots were received by Survey & Ballot Systems to track the results.

Incumbent District 1 Director PJ Duchene of Faribault and incumbent District 5 Director Rodney D. Krell of Blooming Prairie were unopposed and re-elected to three-year terms. In District 3, Interim District 3 Director Neil R. Schlaak of New Richland was elected with 487 votes. The other candidates in District 3 included Anton H. Seykora of Ellendale, 391 votes; Dan M. Hansen of Ellendale, 321 votes; and Ralph F. Miller of Owatonna with 164 votes.

Directors elected to the SWCE board Tuesday, June 4,
during the co-op’s 88th annual meeting were (left to right):
PJ Duchene, District 1; Neil Schlaak, District 3; and
Rodney Krell, District 5

With guests, the co-op’s annual meeting had 972 in attendance. Steele-Waseca members who attended received a mixing spoon, $50 Energy Star® gift certificate, and a $30 Power Perks certificate good at participating member-owned businesses listed on the certificate. Both certificates expire Dec. 31, 2024 (no exceptions).

There were two Early Bird drawings before the start of the annual meeting. Alan Runge of Owatonna was selected as the recipient of a $250 gift certificate from 4-Seasons Vacations in Albert Lea and $100 gift certificate from Nagel Sod in Medford. The second drawing recipient was Edward Skala of Blooming Prairie who received a $250 gift certificate from 4-Seasons Vacations and $100 gift certificate from Boonie’s Bar & Grill in Faribault. 

In addition, members with donations to a local food shelf received an LED lightbulb. In all, 215 pounds of non-perishable items and $162 were collected and donated to the Steele County Food Shelf in Owatonna.

Steele-Waseca’s 2023 Youth Tour Delegate Fred Klokonos of Lonsdale had a PowerPoint presentation on his experience last year in Washington, D.C.

The co-op also recognized their 2024 Youth Tour Delegate Langston Richter of Faribault, who will be joining Minnesota’s delegates to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., June 18-23.

Steele-Waseca General Manager Syd Briggs introduced guests, and retired Steele-Waseca employees and directors in attendance.

Briggs reflected on the past year for the co-op and provided an update on the 100% Carbon Free by 2040 bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature last year.

“Originally the bill called for 80% carbon-free mandate by 2030 and 100% by 2040,” said Briggs. “We have our statewide organization and our power supplier to thank for helping us acquire many changes to the bill before it passed. Minnesota Rural Electric Association and Great River Energy worked very hard to affect several very needed changes or modifications to the original bill.”

Briggs continued, “One of the biggest changes was to reduce the 2030 mandate from 80% to 60% for cooperatives. Just a reminder that although Great River Energy is well on its way to achieve many of the goals in the bill, it is good to have options and alternatives to help support all of us as we remain committed to reliability in addition to sustainability.”

“In addition, the bill was modified to allow the use of Renewable Energy Credits to offset any remaining carbon emissions should carbon emitting resources still be required for reliability,” said Briggs. “Another provision that was added was allowing the carbon-free portion of a carbon emitting resource to count towards compliance, which would apply to carbon capture technologies.”

Briggs concluded, “We are still concerned with the eventual mandate of 100% carbon-free power; however, it is a little ways in the future, and these concessions our legislators gave us will help as we look positively to the future for more solutions.” Briggs addressed other topics which may be read on Page 2 of this month’s Sparks newsletter.

Following the business portion of the annual meeting, three Grand Prize drawings were conducted along with drawings for the flowers on stage. The Grand Prize drawing recipients included Thomas/Linda Lang of New Richland with a $100 gift card to Lerberg’s Foods in Ellendale; Paul Mueller of Janesville had his registration card drawn for a $100 gift card to Casey’s General Store and $100 gift card to Grampa’s Ole Home Meats in Medford. Paul/Margaret Anderson of New Richland had their registration card drawn for a $150 gift card to Casey’s General Store and $150 gift card to Steve’s Meat Market in Ellendale.

Following the drawings, a smoked pork chop lunch was served by Hy-Vee of Owatonna, which included potatoes, corn, coleslaw, roll, water and/or milk. The Faribault Middle School students delivered your choice of chocolate, cherry, or butterscotch Dilly® Bars to the dining members and guests.

At the conclusion of the annual meeting, the Steele-Waseca board of directors met for their reorganizational meeting. The following officers were elected: Rodney Krell, president; PJ Duchene, vice president; Ronald D. Sommers, Northfield, secretary/treasurer; and Scott J. Carlson, Faribault, assistant secretary/treasurer.