The New Year kicked off with a bang. In the early morning hours of January 3rd, a strong storm front moved though our service area, packing heavy rain coupled with high winds.
Less than twelve hours before, it was short-sleeve weather with temperatures near 70 degrees. As the storm front pulled away on the afternoon of the 3rd, temperatures had fallen to the mid-30s, and the precipitation ended with our first snowflakes of the winter season.
Due to the saturated ground and high winds, trees were easily blown over onto power lines, breaking poles, cross arms and wire. The storm resulted in 125 separate outages that left 8,376 members, over 25 percent of the membership, without power.
The largest outage from the storm, affecting 2,040 members, was the result of a tree falling on our high voltage transmission line that feeds four distribution circuits out of Wall Substation, west of Asheboro. The damage was extensive and would have resulted in a very long outage. Our engineering team was creative and reworked some connections in our distribution system to feed two of the circuits from a different substation. They also installed one of our mobile substations at another location to feed the other two circuits. This shortened the outage time for those members by at least seven hours. We are not always able to use this measure due to technical limitations, but I wanted to give our engineering team a shout-out for their ingenuity in reducing the duration of this outage for our members.
I appreciate how our employee team and contactors responded and restored power safely and quickly. From taking outage calls, to coordinating crews, supplying repair materials, keeping you informed, climbing poles, and all the other jobs required for a safe and efficient storm response, they did an awesome job and I appreciate all their efforts.
Let me shift gears and provide you an update on the planning for our 2022 Member Annual Meeting. As I write this article in early January, COVID-19 cases have jumped to the highest level in our region and state since the beginning of the pandemic almost two years ago. This increase is attributed to Christmas family gatherings, and I expect the numbers will drop back down in the next few weeks. It’s impossible to know at this time what COVID conditions will be on June 17, the scheduled date for our 2022 Annual Meeting, but we are moving forward in planning for an in-person meeting. We will keep you updated as we move closer to the event.
This issue of Watts Working contains important information on the legal and date requirements for this year’s Annual Meeting and the election of Directors. What’s critical this month, as noted in the enclosed pages, is the nomination, petition and Director election process.
Your Board of Directors has approved new bylaws with the primary change incorporating the opportunity for all members—not just those attending the Annual Meeting in person—to participate in the election process if there is a contested election. This is the same process that was implemented last year through the emergency bylaws for our virtual Annual Meeting. You can vote either through a mail-in ballot or securely online, whichever method you choose.
The overall election process for members interested in running for the Board is the same as previous years, with the same avenues for candidacy as in the past. The following is an overview of the nomination and petition process. Please refer to the enclosed bylaws for complete details of each option.
1The first option for a member wishing to be placed on the ballot is through the Nominating Committee: On page F, you will find a list of the Nominating Committee members for the districts up for election this year: Districts 1, 3 and 6. We can provide the contact information for committee members if requested.
Any eligible member who seeks to run for the Director position in his or her respective district may contact a member of the Nominating Committee to express interest in becoming a candidate.
The member must submit completed qualification forms for the Committee’s consideration by 5:00 PM, Thursday, March 10, 2022, at either of the REMC offices. These qualification forms are available online or at each office.
2 The other ballot option is through petition: Any eligible member who would like to run for the Director position in the relevant districts noted above may file a petition to be placed on the ballot.
The member must submit the following, in person, at either Randolph EMC office by 5:00 PM, March 31, 2022:
A petition with fifteen (15) or more signatures from active members, and completed qualification forms with the information required by the bylaws. These forms are available online and at each office.
I am optimistically looking forward to an in-person Annual Meeting this year. I have missed seeing you the last couple of years and look forward to our cooperative family gathering again.
In the event of a contested election, the Credentials & Election Committee will work directly with an independent third party to conduct this year’s election in advance of the Annual Meeting. If there is a contested election, we will provide additional information on the voting procedures in future issues of Watts Working.
In the event of an uncontested election, as determined by the nomination or petition deadlines that were noted earlier, the election will occur by acclamation, which is the process typically used at our previous in-person Annual Meetings. We made this decision to save money on unnecessarily distributing ballots for an uncontested election.
If there is an uncontested election and the meeting were to be held virtually, the Credentials and Election Committee would, on behalf of the membership, take into consideration the election by acclamation, and report to the membership of its action at the next in-person Annual Meeting.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Fred Smith or me at the Asheboro office.
I am optimistically looking forward to an in-person Annual Meeting this year. I have missed seeing you the last couple of years and look forward to our cooperative family gathering again. Hopefully and prayerfully, we will be able to see each other, eyeball to eyeball, in 2022. Please continue to stay safe.
Cooperatively Yours in Safety,
Dale F. Lambert, Chief Executive Officer
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