Clay Union Electric holds annual meeting Clay Union Electric held its 73rd annual meeting on March 24, at the Gayville Volin School. The theme was "Our Energy Our Future – A Dialogue With America." The meeting was attended by over 300 people, with 150 voting members present. Those in attendance enjoyed a meal served by members of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. We would like to thank Pastor Ralph Egbert for the invocation and Mayor Jay Jorgenson for the welcome address. John Gors conducted the election and announced that incumbent directors Terry Munter, District #1 and Gordon Andersen, District #2 were both re-elected. Warren Kuhler won the drawing for the annual meeting prize, a Meco grille. The meeting also featured a power supply update from Scott Parsley, East River Electric. The annual meeting theme (Our Energy Our Future) reflected the national public policy discussion on climate change, the focus on coal as an energy supply and possible legislative impacts. President Ryken reminded members that this region relies on coal for 80 percent of its energy generation, stating "Coal is the most abundant fuel source, it is a domestic fuel supply and it still is the most cost effective energy resource. Limiting its use would be catastrophic to members." Ryken reminded members that while there is a need to reduce emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, which is at the forefront of the energy debate. At this time there is no current commercial technology available to capture or sequester carbon from an existing coal based power plant. Members were encouraged to communicate with their Congressional leaders to keep electricity affordable as they consider energy legislation and that the strength of the Cooperative is in the unity of members. President Ryken updated members on the need for an 11 percent electric rate increase implemented in January 2009, the first rate increase in twenty one years. Ryken provided information on the power cost increases for both the hydro and Basin Electric power supply resources. Ryken also updated the members on the addition of environmental improvements to the Basin Electric plants as well the addition of wind to the generation mix. Board President Ryken reminded members of the importance of communicating with Congress through cards and letters to keep electricity affordable as they develop climate change legislation. Ryken stated that "they do listen but only if you talk to them." Ryken ended his report by thanking members for strongly supporting their cooperative over the past year. Manager Roberts began his report recognizing the Cooperative employees and giving special recognition to five employees for length of service awards ranging from five to forty years of rural electric service. Also in his report, Manger Roberts detailed the financial operations for 2008 highlighting record electric sales and below budget operating costs. Manager Roberts reported on a number of annual operation and maintenance programs that continue to improve power quality to members. Roberts reported that outages related to underground cable and overall outages in 2008 were both at record lows. Manager Roberts reported on 2008 construction work activities. Manager Roberts reviewed details of the rate change that was effective January 1, highlighting the costs driving the increase. Roberts indicated that the cost of service study showed that individual rate class costs had shifted over the past twenty years and this rate increase attempts to accomplish some revenue realignments. As a result the percentage of increase for each rate class and member could be different. Roberts concluded the rate discussion by showing members that with respect to propane, fuel oil and natural gas, Cooperative electric costs were still the best energy value for members. Finally, Roberts reported that while not all the news was positive during the year, many positive signals showed the Cooperative in very sound financial condition and well suited to meet the challenges in the coming years. Roberts concluded his report by thanking board members, employees and attorney for their dedication to Clay-Union Electric and thanked the members for attending and supporting their cooperative.