More than 100 Central Texas Electric Cooperative members gathered on August 17 in the Fredericksburg High School auditorium for the co-op’s annual membership meeting. CTEC Board President Mark Hahn welcomed everyone, and Director James Low provided an invocation.
After an introduction of the board of directors and some meeting formalities, the business of the meeting included the election of four directors to represent their respective districts on the board: Wynne Whitworth, District 1, Kendall County (ﬁrst elected term); Mark Hahn, District 3, Mason County (second elected term); Fermin Ortiz, District 4, Llano County (ﬁrst elected term); Doylene Bode, District 5, Gillespie County (fourth elected term). As the cooperative’s bylaws stipulate, a CTEC director’s time on the board is limited to four three-year terms.
In a video presentation, Hahn emphasized recent challenges and how the co-op has risen to meet them.
“The past year has been ﬁlled with unprecedented events and challenges, but CTEC faced them head-on in our continuing goal to serve our members,” he said. “Despite the pandemic and record-breaking winter weather, our co-op continued to grow, and we have been hard at work to meet the needs of that growth. Thanks in part to investments in technology and dedicated employees, CTEC has continued to provide our member-ﬁrst service while working safely and eﬀectively through all challenges.”
Vice President Tim Lehmberg shared the operations report. “Before our employees and contractors conquered the extensive restoration eﬀort left in the wake of Winter Storm Uri in early 2021, they were hard at work in 2020 adding to our growing infrastructure,” he said. “Last year we added over 1,000 new meters and built over 70 miles of new electric lines, which exceeds the previous year. This brings the total number of meters connected to over 43,500 on 6,600 miles of overhead and underground distribution lines.”
Lehmberg described some of the larger projects that operations crews have completed as well as improvements to come, including substation upgrades, installation of a new metering system and the construction of a new substation in the Mountain Home area. He also addressed the co-op’s commitment to working safely.
“Safety is always the top priority for CTEC,” he said. “We are beyond proud that during the winter storm restoration eﬀort, not a single employee was injured in a lost-time accident. This is a tremendous achievement considering the environment they had to operate in and the highly dangerous nature of the work. Overall your cooperative has worked over a year and a half without a lost-time accident. I want to take a moment to commend the men and women of CTEC and thank them for their commitment to safety.”
Board Treasurer Connie Stockbridge reported on the ﬁnancial state of the co-op.
“In spite of the immense challenges CTEC dealt with over the last year, your co-op was able to maintain excellent ﬁnancial health,” she said. “During 2020, the electric distribution plant in service increased in value by over $10 million. This increase was due to the construction of new lines and system improvements.
“CTEC’s 2020 operating revenue was more than $70.2 million. Your board recognizes that as a member, it is important to you to understand where each dollar that you pay to CTEC goes. Power cost represents the largest expense your cooperative has. It is almost 54 cents of every dollar collected. Since it is the largest part of each member’s bill, your board prioritizes seeking out low-cost power providers and negotiating contracts to keep those prices low.
“Operations and maintenance expenses account for about 22 cents of each dollar collected. Depreciation of the co-op’s assets accounted for almost 11 cents of every dollar of revenue for the co-op. Interest represents the amount the co-op is charged for the money it borrows to build and improve the system. Last year that accounted for almost 6 cents out of every dollar collected.
“Margins last year amounted to more than $5.2 million, which equates to a little more than 7 cents of every dollar collected. Margins are the co-op’s excess revenue earned over expenses and become capital credits, also known as patronage capital, and represent the members’ share of revenue collected. More than $2 million was returned to members in the form of capital credits—a unique beneﬁt of cooperative membership rooted in Members’ Economic Participation, one of the Seven Cooperative Principles. “At the end of 2020, CTEC’s total assets exceeded $200 million, with an equity ratio of 45%. That means the members own more of the co-op’s assets than ever before.
“I am proud to report that your electric cooperative has a strong ﬁnancial position,” Stockbridge said. “Our rates are competitive among electric cooperatives, and rate reductions are planned to take eﬀect soon. While many utilities across Texas have experienced a ﬁnancial setback due to Winter Storm Uri, your employees and board of directors have worked hard to ensure that CTEC is not aﬀected by the ﬂuctuating energy market.”
Doylene Bode, board secretary, addressed CTEC’s member-ﬁrst commitment, beginning with communication, particularly during outages. “Communicating information to our members is important to us, especially when it comes to power outages,” she said. “Winter Storm Uri compelled CTEC to review not only our communication plan for outages but our entire emergency operations plan, with the goal of learning from the experience and being better prepared if a similar event occurs in the future. This review is due to be completed in the near future, and we will share those results with our members at that point.”
Bode also discussed the ways the co-op shares information with its members, including through the CTEC website, ctec.coop; its Facebook page; and in Texas Co-op Power, but stressed the importance of the SmartHub app.
“When reporting an outage, you can always call our toll-free number, anytime, day or night,” she said. “But by far the quickest and most accurate way to submit your outage information to CTEC is to use our SmartHub app. With your smartphone, tablet or computer, you can report an outage in less than a minute, putting this information immediately in the hands of CTEC service crews. There are also many other beneﬁts to utilizing the SmartHub app. You can make payments, view billing and usage information, and sign up for email, text or push notiﬁcations about your bill, planned outages, and co-op announcements.”
Bode then turned meeting attendees’ attention to CTEC’s scholarship program. “Our scholarship program is in its 24th year and over that time period has awarded $639,000 in schol-arships,” she said. “This money comes from unclaimed capital credit checks that have been returned to your electric coopera-tive by the state of Texas. This program has allowed CTEC to help hundreds of members and children of members with their educational pursuits.”
Bode discussed another CTEC community program, Operation Round-Up. “This program allows members to round up their monthly electric bill to the next whole dollar. Those cents then are added to the Operation Round-Up fund and organizations or individuals can apply for a grant,” she said. “These funds can help community and social programs or help a family that lost home in a ﬁre or to assist in paying unexpected medical bills. The average contribution is only 50 cents per month, but that small amount has allowed CTEC to gift over $161,000 to those in need. If you are not already participating in Operation Round-Up, please consider becoming a part of this important program.”
Hahn returned to conclude the video. “On behalf of myself, the board, and CTEC staﬀ, we want to thank you, our members, for the patience, support, and encouragement you showed us during some diﬃcult and trying times,” he said. “Our employees are your neighbors, your family, or your friends. They are your fellow church member or your child’s soccer coach. Maybe you see them at the gas station or serving food at a local fundraiser. The employees that serve our members are right here in the communities you live in because CTEC is a local, hometown business. Our employees are the heart and soul of the cooperative, and I would like to take a moment to recognize them for the eﬀort and sacriﬁces they make every day in service to our members.”
Following the video report, Robert Loth III, Central Texas EC CEO, gave special recognition to six employees whose extended tenures at the cooperative combine for a total of 210 years of dedicated service. Allen Goodwin, outgoing director for District 1, and Tommy Duncan, outgoing director for District 4, were recognized for their service on the board.
Finally, as at all CTEC member meetings, members had an opportunity to voice questions and comments in a Q&A session.
The meeting ended with a drawing for more than $2,000 in door prizes, all donated by CTEC’s generous vendors.