Dauciunas and Madsen win OPALCO election

Submitted by OPALCO

Vince Dauciunas and Mark Madsen were re-elected to the OPALCO Board of Directors. OPALCO members boarded a ferry on Saturday, May 6 to participate in the 2017 Annual Meeting and learn the election results. The new election process was smooth and member feedback has been positive. Each OPALCO member votes for two candidates and the top two win.

Vote counts

Dauciunas: 1,467 (74 percent)

Madsen: 1,339 (67 percent)

Severson: 901 (45 percent)

Voter participation was lower than last year, with 1,992 total ballots (1,114 online, 878 by mail) representing about 17 percent of the membership. Guests joined the 173 members present aboard the WSF Yakima for a total of 269 people in attendance.

Doug Marshall, chair of the new member Elections and Governance Committee announced the election results and encouraged members to join the EGC. There are still four open positions: three for San Juan Island and surrounding outer islands and one for Shaw Island.

OPALCO members enjoyed a bag lunch prepared by Avenue Catering of Burlington. In celebration of OPALCO’s 80th anniversary, members took home gift bags with LED night lights and more. The San Juan Islands Conservation District gave away LED bulbs and there were information booths to learn about Community Solar, the submarine cable replacement project and Rock Island Communications.

The 2017 Nourdine Jensen Cooperative Youth Scholars were announced and presented with a certificate: Haley Moss and Joanne Mietzner of Orcas High School; Jonathan Doherty of Lopez High School; Zach Fincher and Jayna Ott of Friday Harbor High School. Each will each receive a $1,000 scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Youth Rally Co-op Leadership Camp at the College of Idaho this summer. Friday Harbor High School senior Tenley Nelsen will return to the Youth Rally as a youth director.

Board President Vince Dauciunas shared the OPALCO board vision for our future power supply and Foster Hildreth, general manager, gave a brief update on the co-op.

“Our vision as a board is to provide safe, reliable energy at the lowest possible cost while making smart investments for a sustainable future,” said Dauciunas.

He went on to discuss the rapid change taking place in the utility industry and credited the 1999 OPALCO board for their foresight to begin building a fiber-optic network at the backbone of our electric system. Dauciunas assured the membership that the board’s vision is driven by the cooperative principles, particularly “concern for community.”

“In the next two years, we will re-examine our rate structures to make sure we can meet the evolving model of local distributed power and enhance programs for members on fixed incomes and from low-income households,” said Dauciunas. “We are here to meet the needs of San Juan County and recognize our role in sustaining quality of life and long-term livability in the islands.”

Hildreth highlighted 2016 accomplishments and recognized the OPALCO team for their hard work and dedication.

“We’ve come a long way in three years,” said Hildreth. “This fall, we’ll complete the submarine cable replacement in the Lopez-San Juan crossing, we are in the planning phase of our first big community solar project and our subsidiary, Rock Island Communications is well on it’s way to break-even – expected in mid-2018.”

Hildreth gave kudos to EVP Gerry Lawlor and the team at Rock Island Communications for their progress. “We have solved the internet crisis in San Juan County – something that seemed an impossible task three years ago. By the end of this year, more than 90 percent of the county will have access to Rock Island broadband and phone services.”

A member question and comment session followed.

The names of eight voting members were drawn for $80 credits on their next OPALCO bills. The lucky winners are Barbara Brown, Orcas; Christene Noll, San Juan; Laura and Paul Roberts, San Juan; Madrona Murphy, Lopez; Mark Cohen and Eleanor Hoague, Orcas; Tom and Kathleen Roosma, Orcas; Anne Pallinger, San Juan; and Penelope Gilde, Lopez.

The door prizes were donated by OPALCO’s vendors and partners and included a $3,000 rebate on a Ductless Heat Pump, donated, in part, by Cooperative Finance Corporation; an Electric Vehicle charger, donated by Ray at Campbell Nissan of Everett; and a number of electronic devices chosen to help members achieve greater efficiency and connectivity: Nest Learning Thermostats, ECHO Dot with Insight Switch, iPad Mini with mobile internet service through Rock Island and Apple TVs. Thanks to OPALCO’s vendors and partners for funding these door prizes:

• Rock Island Communications

• Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC]

• Ray at Campbell Nissan of Everett

• EES Consulting

• General Pacific

• Eaton

• Anixter

• Braaksma Engineering, Inc.

• NW Public Power Assoc.

• Pacific NW Generating Co-op

OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services to hold an annual meeting each year. Members who missed the meeting can read the report at www.opalco.com/annualreport. Copies are at the OPALCO office, as long as supplies lasts.

Orcas Power & Light Cooperative is a member-owned cooperative electric utility, serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95 percent greenhouse-gas free and is generated predominantly by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937.