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co-opleaders


Co-op Trustee Earns Certification Vernnon completes 44-hour course in his first year as ECE trustee.


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ast year East Central Electric (ECE) asked Michael Vernnon to serve his co-op by filling an open seat on


the ECE board of trustees. With a 24-year history of service to the Army National Guard, it’s no surprise Vernnon accepted the responsibility without hesitation.


Seven months— and many training hours later — Vernnon remains happy with his decision. “I retired from the Oklahoma Army National Guard after 24 years and multiple deployments, and I love being able to give something back to my community,” he says. “I also love that I am part of an organization that has such a wonderful set of core values.”


Electric cooperative trustees often find their first year on the board is an exercise in mental cramming as they educate themselves about the electric utility industry. As a newcomer to the board, Vernnon says he is focused on “listening and soaking in the knowledge.”


He recently completed the Certified Cooperative Director (CCD) program hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The 44-hour certification process includes courses on cooperative financing, director duties and liabilities, board operations and processes, understanding electric co-ops, and strategic planning. Trustees are encouraged to earn further accreditation with NRECA’s Board Leadership Certificate, which provides courses with greater depth in industry, governance, risk management, rate making and policy development.


Because the energy industry is changing rapidly, electric co-op trustees must stay aware and informed of numerous complex issues and their broad- reaching implications for ratepayers.


At the forefront of concern is the unstable regulatory environment created by the federal Clean Power Plan. The regulations threaten to increase costs for electric co-


Michael Vernnon, ECE District 4 trustee, and his wife, Erin. The couple live on East Central Electric lines near Muskogee with their son, Justin.


ops and their members, and are already having an impact on ECE, says Vernnon.


One of the board’s many responsibilities is making sure ECE is prepared to meet these uncertainties head-on; Vernnon confirms they are. “ECE remains committed to operating in a manner that encourages long-term success,” he says.


An equally important responsibility, he adds, is to serve as a voice for co-op members by keeping them informed of issues such a regulations, fuel prices and other factors that affect their rates. “Frustration comes from not knowing,” he adds.


Trustees also owe a responsibility to ECE employees. “We must set policy that takes


country living | APRIL 2016 | 3


Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month


Earth Day is April 22. Give back to the environment by planting a deciduous tree near your home. Deciduous trees lose their leaves during the fall, allowing sunlight to warm your home. The extra shade during summer months will keep your home cooler and give your AC a much needed break.


“I love being able to give something back to my community. I also love that I am part of an organization that has such a wonderful set of core values.” —MICHAEL VERNNON, TRUSTEE


“ EAST CENTRAL ELECTRIC DISTRICT # 4


care of our team physically, spiritually and financially, so they will continue to show the same enthusiasm when greeting members in the lobby or linemen out in the field,” Vernnon points out.


While the responsibilities are hefty and the hours are long, the work is ultimately rewarding. For Vernnon, that makes all the difference.


Note: When he isn’t busy with co-op related work, Michael Vernnon serves as manager of environmental safety and health at Dal- Tile in Muskogee. The company encourages community leadership and participation. Their support of Vernnon’s work on the ECE board is deeply appreciated.


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