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SECPA Held Annual Stakeholders Meeting in Eads


By Raina Lucero

May 3, 2023

The annual meeting of Southeast Colorado Power Association (SECPA) Shareholders was Thursday April 27th at the Kiowa County Community Building in Eads, Colorado. SECPA is a cooperative which spans across a 13,000 square-mile service territory which includes all or portions of Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Kiowa, Las Animas, Lincoln, Otero, El Paso, Prowers and Pueblo Counties. This large service area is divided into 7-districts represented by a Board of Directors with representation from each of those districts and provides electricity to homes, businesses, and other dwellings.

Registration for the annual meeting began at 5 pm at the community building, all members of the large co-op were invited to attend, those who did were greeted by the friendly SECPA staff at the front doors and received a large cooler bag better known as a “swag bag” filled with SECPA branded goodies. When members found a seat, they were greeted by members of the Prairie Queen 4-H Clover Buds who wore green aprons asking each member for their drink preference. The Clover Buds also circled back several times offering refills as well as serving each member a large plate filled with potatoes, brisket, green beans, and a dinner roll and following soon after with a dessert cart.

This annual meeting which rotates from district to district each year was held virtually during Covid-19, however this year marks the 2nd year in a row that the meetings have gone back to in-person. Truman Wright, the President of SECPA, opened the meeting and welcomed the members in attendance. Though the turnout was not what was expected there was a nice blend of members from each District in attendance.

President Wright introduced the board members, Clint Anderson, Vice President; Merlin Rushton, Secretary/Treasurer, and Directors, Lawrence Brase, Brad Buck, Randy Phillips, and Kevin Karney. He then directed his comments toward Karney, “We thank you, Kevin for the years you have dedicated to SECPA. This will be his last meeting as one of your Board of Directors. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

Wright went on to say that between SECPA and SECOM a wholly owned subsidiary of SECPA which provides high-speed telecommunication circuits, wireless internet and voice service to the area, there are more than 105 jobs opportunities in the communities within the co-op. The two companies are also very involved in the communities they serve, donating to events such as county fairs and offering annual scholarships to students whose parents are members.

This year there were ten $1,000 scholarships awarded to high school seniors planning on attending school in the fall. Those scholarships were awarded to: Carli Carter, Crowley County High School; Jay Grimsley, La Junta High School; Alyssa Hancock, Rocky Ford High School; Lindsey Hodges, Walsh High School; Chloe Johnson, Campo High School; Emily Noll, La Junta High School; Tell Piner, Wiley High School; Aubrey Summers, Pritchett High School; Ella Swanson, Springfield High School; and Torin Mendoza-Werner, Rocky Ford High School. An eleventh scholarship was awarded from Tri-State for $1,000 which went to Waytyyn Wollert, Wiley High School.

Each of those students, along with their families, were in attendance and accepted the scholarship from the Board of Directors.

Company CEO, Kevin Brandon detailed the positive things as well as the negative things that they had to face as a co-op this year. He stated, “2022 brought continued challenges to SECPA and SECOM in the form of supply chain issues that we began seeing in 2021, as well as record high inflation affecting prices on most supplies, materials, equipment, and fuel that we use in the day-to-day operations of the companies. Lead times for materials continue to be extended with current lead times on just a few examples being, poles at 32-weeks, pad-mount transformers ranging from 50-100 weeks, and substation transformers ranging from 60-200 weeks. 2022 also brought price increases on all electric material ranging from 5% to 30% with comparable price increases on all our fiber and communications materials and equipment.”

In spite of those challenges Brandon was pleased with how the staff handled the situations, “They did an awesome job of being resourceful and creative to come up with everything needed to keep the lights on and Internet working, as well as being able to continue with new construction and upgrades with minimal delays, all while achieving growth in both SECPA and SECOM.”

There are a total of 10,789 accounts with SECPA, with a total of 271,556, 915 kWh sold throughout the co-op which is 10% higher than 2021. This electricity was supplied to SECPA by Tri-State Generation & Transmission, Inc from Denver, Colorado. Tri-State will be working in Kiowa County as they lay transmission lines for wind turbines which will generate more electricity which will be later sold to SECPA and other companies.

The Board of Directors approved retirement of Capital Credits from the years 1967-1969 for the total of $418,454 retired and returned to members in 2022. CEO Brandon went on to say, “The statistic that I am most proud of is 2022 was SECPA’s 7th year without a rate increase. To be able to maintain rates with the increase in expenses we have seen is a big accomplishment, and a testament to the dedication and resourcefulness of our employees, always looking for ways to do more with less and fulfill our mission providing reliable and affordable electricity to our members.”

Due to such a positive bottom line, the board approved the payment for 2023 capital credits of $1.3 Million, this was the largest retirement of capital credits ever. Members who are eligible should have received their check in April.

One of the many benefits of attending the meeting as a member is not only to be able to participate in the business meeting portion but also, each member who is in attendance has their name put into a lottery for door prizes.

This year there were a total of 7 drawings. The first cash prize went to Eads local, Areta Laird. The five $100 cash prizes were given away to Cleta Engelhardt, Dorothy Muth, Arther Blooding, Garret Hodges, and Harvey Shade. Tri-State donated an electric leaf blower to be given away, that was won by Teri Ellis of Eads.

Finally, there was a grand prize of $500 cash to be given away, the winner drawn was the United Methodist Church of Eads which will surely be a huge benefit to them as they transition from the United Methodist Church to Eads Community Church.

A special donation of several books was presented to Kiowa County Public Library employees Kemma Alfano and Valorie Briggs by Eads Lineman Jacob Barnes.

This wrapped up the annual meeting in Eads. Next year the meeting will be held in La Junta, Colorado.

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