LMRE debuts community solar program; incumbents re-elected to board
Members of Lorain-Medina Rural Electric can now purchase solar power from the cooperative’s new OurSolar® program which was introduced to members at their 81st annual meeting July 18 at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington.
The results of a 30-day mail and online election for the board of trustees were announced. Incumbents John Eaton (Huntington Township), Gary Rowland (Brighton Township) and Brenda Wolfe (Sullivan Township) were re-elected to serve three-year terms on the LMRE Board of Trustees. Wolfe won a contested election against Tom Reisinger of Sullivan, while Eaton and Rowland ran unopposed. Three amendments to the Code of Regulations that dealt with patronage capital credits were overwhelmingly approved by the membership.
Earlier this month a 75-kilowatt solar array with 228 panels was energized behind the cooperative’s offices in Wellington Township. The cooperative is now signing up members to purchase power generated from the panels.
The LMRE solar array was built in conjunction with Buckeye Power, the cooperative’s wholesale power supplier. There are 23 sites across Ohio that are in service or will be constructed this year. Collectively, Buckeye Power and it Ohio electric cooperatives will be producing 2 megawatts of power. About five percent of Buckeye Power’s power portfolio is considered renewable energy with solar, wind, hydro and bio-digesters.
“The cooperatives have a belief in an all-of-the-energy-that-makes-sense power supply objective,” LMRE General Manager Markus Bryant said at the annual meeting. “We’re mostly coal generation which has been very reliable for many years. We have some gas peaking generation and we’ve done some things with renewables.”
Bryant said, the community solar program gives interested members an affordable way to purchase solar power without having to go to the expense of installing panels on their roof or on their property.
In other news, President Eaton announced that Bryant intends to retire in January 2019 and a nationwide search will be conducted starting in early 2018. Bryant has served as LMRE’s general manager since 1995 and is now the longest serving general manager in the cooperative’s 81-year history. He also serves as general manager of North Central electric Cooperative in Attica, Ohio under a management and shared services federation.
Commending Bryant for his leadership, Eaton said, “A lot has been accomplished over the past two decades and it will be critical to find a committed, innovative visionary to lead our two cooperatives. This is a challenge we take seriously, and I assure you, your board is up for the challenge.”
About 2,100 attended the annual meeting and Family Fun Day, including nearly 970 members. The event included bounce houses, a petting zoo, face-painting, a photo booth, COSI exhibits, electric safety demonstrations and member business displays.
In his annual meeting presentation to the membership, Bryant acknowledged that with the change in presidential administrations “we are pleased that balance appears to be coming back to U.S. energy and environmental policies” with President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt the Clean Power Plan.
“The emphasis now appears to have shifted from killing coal use no matter the consequences to energy abundance, reliability and affordability, which are goals the cooperative supports. While grateful for relief from the prior administration’s costly and unnecessary regulations, some of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposals are of concern to electric cooperatives. For example, severe cuts are being proposed in funding for rural economic development, advanced energy research and energy assistance program for low-income households. No matter who is president or what political party they are from, there are always different issues, but our vigilance always must be maintained.”
Eaton said 2016 proved to be an excellent year for the cooperative. He said they refunded a record level of patronage capital credits in December ($1.6 million), the average length of outages was at a 20-year low and member surveys showed customer satisfaction was at an all-time high.
Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric utility serving about 16,250 consumers in Lorain, Medina, Ashland, Huron and Wayne counties. To learn more about the cooperative and its programs and services, please visit www.lmre.org.