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August 2016


Co-op deals with challenges and opportunities by Mike R. Hagy


The year since our last annual meeting has been an interesting one! The tornados of May 2015 were followed by decreased electricity usage by members due to a moderate summer and downward spiral of the oil fields and economy. Those factors precipitated less-than-normal margins for the cooperative, but the SWRE Board still approved payment of capital credits to our members.


Storms Wreaked Havoc Unfortunately, “Old Man Weather” was not very cordial as SWRE experienced two ice storms as the year wound down. An early ice storm during Thanksgiving weekend caused several days of outages, but possibly the worst ice storm in our co-op’s history blew through the day after Christmas. Ice accumulations and storm gusts for three straight days resulted in damage over the entire SWRE service area – no area was spared! Western Farmers (our wholesale power provider) also lost transmission to every substation, as well as backup feeds from PSO/AEP.


As damage estimates were evaluated each day, the damages doubled the second day, and the final night of 70 mph winds caused as much damage as the first two days combined. The last residence outage was restored in thirteen days, but work continued for several months. The spring rains, floods, windstorms, and the multitude of never-ending lightning storms also caused new problems as well as exposing damage that may not have been apparent during the ice storms. SWRE has filed for FEMA in both states and we hope to recover a portion of those storm costs.


Technology Improvements


There were also some very exciting things that happened during the last year! Most of the technology infrastructure that SWRE has been building over the last ten years has resulted in the debut of valuable tools for both our members and cooperative.


Members can download our SWRE app and look at their usage, establish alerts like bill pay reminders or a text message when your bill approaches a certain dollar threshold, or even report an outage without calling in. Usage can also be viewed on the SWRE website. Our staff will be available at the annual meeting to help members download the app, or members may call our office anytime for help over the phone. Members can also see the outages in our service area on the app or can go to the statewide site at oaec.coop and see outages for co-ops all over Oklahoma.


Our linemen now have iPads with maps and outage information to better identify where the problems are occurring. Much of our new technology requires the merging of data from numerous servers that we have been building for years. That data can be sent back centrally to our “war room” during major storms that will give us a total view of the entire situation and allow us to make quicker responses than before. Technology, however, can never replace the dedication that our men and women have demonstrated during those large storms.


January Retirement


This 2016 annual meeting will be my last one as CEO/General Manager of SWRE. I had already planned to retire in January of 2017, but a heart attack in late May (and a new stent) solidified that decision. The Board is presently conducting a search for the next CEO, and my replacement should be on the job sometime in December. I live on SWRE’s lines, so next year I’ll attend the annual meeting as a member – and possibly win one of those prizes! As SWRE approaches a time of transition, our staff and employees will continue to provide electricity through our vision of “safety, service and satisfaction – one member at a time.” Thank you for letting us serve you!


Geothermal info available at Annual Meeting


Geothermal energy systems utilize the natural temperature of the earth to heat and cool homes or businesses. Once installed, geothermal is one of the cleanest, most cost-effective methods for heating and cooling.


SWRE members who are building a new home or remodeling an existing structure will be especially interested in learning how geothermal can work for them – and save BIG on utility bills. Tyson Tausig from Geo-Energy Services will be at SWRE's annual meeting on August 11 to discuss the many benefits of geothermal heat pumps and answer any questions that co-op members may have about installation of geothermal systems.


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