Cornbelt looks back at record power transmission year

HUMBOLDT — Never Stop Getting Better was the theme for the 70th Corn Belt Power Cooperative annual meeting April 5 at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites in Fort Dodge.

That theme reflected on events from 2016, including the construction of several large transmission projects, implementation of new generation technology, and the addition of new commercial and industrial electrical load.

Corn Belt Power sold more kilowatt-hours of electricity to its member systems in 2016 than in any previous year in the cooperative’s history, it said in a press release. Sales totaled 1,962 million kilowatt-hours, surpassing both the 2015 total of 1,890 million kilowatt-hours and the previous all-time record high of 1,956 million kilowatt-hours, set in 2014.

Higher commercial and industrial sales drove the total to record highs, Cornbelt said.

The poultry industry resumed operations after recovering from the effects of the avian flu in 2015. Although agriculture-related manufacturing was lower in 2016, agriculture processing increased. Ethanol plants added load, including new grain handling operations, according to the cooperative.

Corn Belt Power’s 2016 system peak occurred on a hot Thursday afternoon — July 21. Clear skies, high humidity and temperatures that passed 90 degrees resulted in a 111-degree heat index and a 313-megawatt system peak load.

During the April 5 meeting, patronage checks were distributed to member cooperatives, totaling $1,108,037 from 2004 deferred patronage.

Don Feldman, president, Corn Belt Power board of directors, previously announced he will step down from the president’s office after this annual meeting. In his last address as president, Feldman reviewed the cooperative’s accomplishments during his tenure.

“We have been fortunate to have a culture of cooperation, where we work together,” he said. “We operate with accountability. We’ve made it an ongoing practice to listen to our membership, to share information and to develop policies and procedures that keep all of our member cooperatives strong.”

Kenneth Kuyper, executive vice president and general manager, discussed the challenges posed by several unexpected events the electric utility industry experienced in 2016.

“Continuous and unwavering adherence to the cooperative form of doing business and the seven cooperative principles is the most successful tool for dealing with those unexpected events and situations that come our way,” he said.

During the business meeting, member cooperatives re-elected Scott Stecher as the director representing Prairie Energy Cooperative.

The Iowa Area Development Group presented Project Development Impact Awards to Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Midland Power Cooperative and Prairie Energy Cooperative. Grundy County REC received a Community Development Award.

Officers elected during the reorganizational meeting following the annual meeting were Scott Stecher, Clarion, Prairie Energy Cooperative, president; Dale Schaefer, Rockwell, Franklin REC, vice president; Jerry Beck, Spencer, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, secretary; David Onken, Glidden, Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, treasurer; Larry Rohach, Reinbeck, Grundy County REC, assistant secretary/treasurer; Kuyper, executive vice president and general manager; Karen Berte, senior vice president, finance and administration; Kevin Bornhoft, vice president, engineering and system operations; Kathy Taylor, vice president, corporate relations; Mike Thatcher, vice president, generation; and Jim Vermeer, vice president, business development.

Terry Rich, chief executive officer of the Iowa Lottery, was guest speaker. He spoke on Creating an Innovative Environment.

Corn Belt Power, headquartered in Humboldt, is a generation and transmission electric cooperative that provides power to nine rural electric cooperatives and one municipal electric cooperative serving farms, rural residences, small towns and commercial/industrial members in 41 northern Iowa counties. The member cooperatives served by Corn Belt Power are Boone Valley Electric Cooperative, Renwick; Butler County REC, Allison; Calhoun County REC, Rockwell City; Franklin REC, Hampton; Grundy County REC, Grundy Center; Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Estherville; Midland Power Cooperative, Jefferson; North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative, Humboldt; Prairie Energy Cooperative, Clarion; and Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, Glidden.

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