Meadville, PA: Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative held its 86th annual meeting on Saturday, August 20, at the New Beginnings Church of God in Meadville. This was the third consecutive year the annual meeting was mainly a drive-thru and pre-recorded virtual event. The co-op also collected food donations at the drive-thru event, which Kathryn Cooper-Winters, Board Chair, affectionately referred to as the Feed 86 Families food drive.
“Member participation was tremendous,” stated Amy Wellington, director of communications for Northwestern REC. “Over 860 memberships registered during our event, and we gathered nearly 1,400 pounds of food items that were donated to the Center for Family Services Food Pantry.”
Each membership received a $25 electric bill credit and special LED light bulb for their participation. Unlike the past two annual meetings, which were closed to the public due to Covid, the 2022 business meeting was open to those members who wanted to stay.
A handful of members (about 10) did stay for the business meeting which began at 11 a.m. In her presentation, Cooper-Winters encouraged the members to vote in the upcoming election regardless of their political affiliation. Through the Co-op’s Vote initiative, co-op members across the country can learn more about their local candidates and their stance on topics that affect electric cooperatives.
“We’re local, and we’re independent,” Cooper-Winters said, “but together we’re mighty.”
Democratic member control is one of the seven core principles that guides all cooperatives. During the live portion of the business meeting, Mark Bellini, who chaired the Member Panel for Director Elections, announced the 2022 election results. Elected to the Northwestern REC Board of Directors for three-year terms include June Shelhamer of Edinboro for district 1, Earl Koon of Edinboro for district 2, and Robert Agnew of Conneautville for district 4. Also elected to serve the two-year balance of a recent vacancy was Candy Brundage of Corry for district 3.
Cooper-Winters took a moment during the business meeting to make a special presentation. In recognition for his contributions and dedication to Northwestern REC, Cooper-Winters presented a memorial plaque to the family of Michael Sample who passed away on January 2, 2022, after a short illness. Sample was the co-op’s district 3 board representative at the time of his passing. His wife, Debra, and daughter, Sydney, were present to accept the plaque.
Ryan Meller, interim president and CEO for Northwestern, reiterated that co-op rates will remain stable for the rest of 2022. Through Allegheny Electric Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative based in Harrisburg, the 14 electric co-ops in PA and NJ own about 60% of their generation, which is why Northwestern’s rates have remained the same since 2008.
Meller explained, “The state of the co-op is strong and stable for the foreseeable future. We will continue to focus on providing safe, reliable, and affordable electricity with great emphasis on safety for our line workers and our communities.”
Northwestern REC is a not-for-profit rural electric distribution cooperative that serves 20,000 members in Crawford, Erie, Warren, Mercer, and Venango Counties.