The year is quickly winding down and I’m happy to tell you that it’s been a good year for Lake Region Electric Cooperative.
Your board of directors works closely with Lake Region’s management team to set goals, update policies and programs, and keep our cooperative relevant to today’s member-owners. This means that we must not be satisfied with only meeting your expectations. Our mission is also to look ahead and prepare, allowing your cooperative to respond from a position of strength as we face future challenges and create new opportunities.
So, what exactly does it mean to have a good year? After all, it’s one thing to say it, but another to demonstrate success with tangible and quantifiable results.
We began 2017 with a set of four strategic imperatives — Member Satisfaction, Safety, Reliability, and Financial Strength. All four imperatives are critical to Lake Region’s success. We use a “dashboard” approach to continually monitor each of these imperatives, keeping them front and center to all our boardroom discussions and actions. I commend our cooperative employees for achieving outstanding results in each of these four areas.
Regarding member satisfaction, our goal was to attain a score of 8.6 or greater on a 10-point scale. We recently conducted a survey and the returns indicate that our satisfaction score is 8.78.
Everyone at Lake Region has a role in our strategic imperative of safety. One person getting hurt is one person too many. Public education is an important part of this goal. Recognizing potential hazards and taking precautionary actions is also part of the safety equation. We have an ongoing method of training and engaging with all employees to build a culture of safety in which they feel a sense of responsibility and ownership. Safety is everyone’s job. We strive to achieve zero incidents among our members, the public, and our employees.
We fully understand how important it is for you to have reliable electric service. Because our electric distribution system is susceptible to the elements, animals, and human action, we’ll never be able to fully eliminate power outages. However, we are currently on track to reach our goal of minimizing outage occurrences and their length of time. We’ve set a goal of keeping outages to less than 2 hours per member per year. Of course, a major storm could upset our plans, but we take what proactive action we can to eliminate the potential for outages. The vegetation management program we’ve instituted in recent years has greatly helped reduce outage incidents.
Our fourth strategic imperative is financial strength which we measure by the level of member equity and meeting our budget. On both accounts we’re exceeding our expectations. We’ve successfully increased member equity to 42.69 percent, considered to be very healthy for a cooperatively-owned utility. Our employees have been doing their part in working efficiently and eliminating waste. They are very conscious that the money we spend in the operation of Lake Region is money that comes from you, our members.
This brings me to an important announcement. Your board of directors is pleased to tell you that Lake Region has no plans to increase electric rates in 2018! There are few products or services that give an assurance like this. We do, because we work for you.
As we move into the new year, you have our pledge that we’ll use our “co-op dashboard” to continue steering a course for excellence in all four strategic imperatives.