This last year allowed our cooperative to get back to a “new normal,” following worldly changes in the last two years. However, new challenges materialized in 2022 that your cooperative was readily prepared for.
The sale of electricity was strong causing annual kWh sales to rebound up from 2020 and 2021, to surpass more than 366 million kilowatts. These sales directly impacted the co-op’s rate structures and allowed for rates to remain steady despite sharp increases in material costs for distribution equipment. On average, those costs were 25% to 30% higher than previous years. Costs were also higher in fuel and our wholesale power bill.
Reliable electricity is crucial, and your cooperative takes great pride in keeping the “lights on,” but power outages are expected in rural communities. In June, a tornado that went through our territory, causing 7,081 members to be without power. Crews were able to get most outages restored within 48 hours despite the vast amount of destruction to the system.
The damage did not stop there as a winter storm blew across the state mid-December, causing power outages to approximately 5,000 members. Full restoration of power was achieved within three days. While the damage was not as severe as the tornado, restoration took longer due to the widespread outages impacting our entire five-county service territory. Trees and power lines could not withstand the heavy weight of the snow. Frequently, the same lines had to be repaired multiple times due to new snow accumulations and downed tree limbs.
We are proud of how our employees combined their skills and knowledge with new technology to restore power as safely and quickly as possible, to better serve you, our members. A big thank you is also given to our membership for your patience during the restoration efforts.
Construction season kept the cooperative busy last year. Nearly $5.7 million was put into new construction, electric line upgrades, and 265 new services. The capital budget for 2023 calls for us to invest another $5.0 million toward system improvements.
In 2022, Oakdale Electric returned almost $1.4 million in capital credits and an aggressive capital credit retirement schedule is also planned for this year. External auditors gave your cooperative another clean report regarding our financial systems and controls.
The future continues to look favorable for Oakdale Electric Cooperative. You, our members, are an integral part of the cooperative business model. Without your support, feedback, and appreciation, Oakdale Electric Cooperative’s success would not be possible. Thank you!
We encourage you to join us at the 88th Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 29, at Tomah Recreation Park – Recreation (gold) Building. Registration opens at 8 a.m. with donuts and coffee served and the business meeting to begin at 9 a.m.
Each member account will be presented one welcome gift, and following the meeting, all members in attendance will receive a $10 gift card and ice cream token to Culver’s, accepted at any location. We hope to see you there.