Reflecting on an Eventful (and Successful) Year by Greg Lee
As we close out another year, I find the holiday season is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved throughout the year, consider what is still left to do, and begin conceiving of the next wave of tasks that lie ahead. Considering those three categories when I assess my life, I hope there are a few noteworthy items in the first area, always find the second group to be way too full and get ahead of myself with new ideas even though I haven’t achieved everything I had hoped. I think this is both a blessing and a curse. While it would be nice to feel that I am arriving at a proverbial finish line from time to time, operating in this manner assures that progress never stops. It means new tasks are always being addressed and that the job is never over. This is the way I prefer things to be.
The same holds true here at Nolin RECC. Let me take you through our year in review:
- Our cooperative finds itself in a very solid financial position. Cost control measures and prudent use of resources by our workforce have left us with a favorable circumstance despite inflationary pressures, low interest rates on investments, and drastically increased pricing for much of the hardware and equipment needed for us to perform our duties. We are doing everything in our power now to make some responsible decisions to extend our state of solvency into the future.
- We began operation of our subsidiary, Wide Open Utility Service, this past spring. Now employing over 20 people, this organization supports Nolin RECC efforts with respect to vegetation management, fleet maintenance, underground line location and custodial services. This is a direct value-add for our members because of the increased cost control and quality of service it affords us. This program is going well, but we can still use more help. Some jobs are presently open, primarily in vegetation management. Anyone who is ambitious, reliable, loves physical labor and being outdoors is welcome to apply. Through Wide Open, we can offer private tree work service and select auto maintenance services to the public as well. More information about how we may be able to help you is available by giving us a call, or on our website, www.wideopenutilityservice.com.
- Nolin sent 47 line techs plus mechanics on four different storm restoration efforts. This totaled over 7,900 employee hours of mutual aid support for our fellow cooperatives.
- Nolin employees and members donated over $1000 worth of household products to Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- Our employees have taken on an increased effort toward environmental preservation. We have now kept over 9.5 tons of cardboard, 1.25 tons of plastic, 2.5 tons of paper, over a ton of batteries and lightbulbs, and nearly a ton of glass out of local landfills through our own recycling efforts.
- Our capital credit distributions this year will give us a three-year total of over $8 million. While this is a very strong and ambitious rate of retirement, we feel a duty to make most responsible use of member capital. When as a result there is surplus and no immediate or strategic need to retain, the responsible thing to do is return it to those who contributed it. We hope to continue this trend in the future.
- We have worked on numerous Construction Workplan projects to expand our infrastructure and upgrade plant that is at its capacity limits or reaching the end of its service life. Nolin had the best service reliability of controllable outages of all cooperatives in the state in both 2019 and 2020. We hope to continue that level of success in the future. To expedite some construction efforts, we have hired a contractor, M&M Electrical, to help us keep pace with our need to upgrade our system. We find ourselves in the very fortunate (but very challenging) position that construction activity for new homes, businesses, and road projects is occupying a vast majority of our line worker’s time. This work is timely and most often must take precedent, so we must remain very diligent to keep long range projects on schedule.
As the new year begins, we will try to capitalize on the opportunities we are given and build on the progress made in 2020. Wishing all of you a Happy Holiday season.