Struthers, Christmas and Osterman Elected to OPALCO Board
135 Member Join Online Annual Meeting, more than 50 Join Q&A
The results were announced at the organization’s annual meeting April 24 held via Zoom.
Orcas Power & Light Cooperative, or OPALCO, is the member-owned cooperative electric utility, serving more than 11,400 members on 20 islands in San Juan County.
In District 2 (Orcas et al), Struthers led with 871 votes, landing a three-year term.
Christmas was close with 664 votes to serve a two-year term.
The balance of the votes for District 2 were Rick Fant with 534 votes and Joseph Cohen with 490 votes.
In District 3 (Lopez, Decatur et al), Osterman won the position with 535 votes and will serve a three-year term.
The balance of the votes for District 3 were Eric Beckman with 485 votes and Peter Garlock with 325 votes.
A total of 1,425 ballots were cast, which equates to 12.6% of the membership. The majority of the membership voted online.
Doug Marshall encouraged OPALCO members to serve on the volunteer OPALCO Elections and Governance Committee. The committee is responsible for cultivating qualified candidates for each board election. There are currently open positions on the committee in every district.
Committee members work year-round on a casual basis to identify potential candidates, and meetings are concentrated from November through January during the election season.
About 135 people logged in to participate in the annual membership meeting on Zoom.
OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services to hold an annual meeting each year. Members who missed the meeting can read the 2020 annual report and view the recording at www.opalco.com.
OPALCO Board President Vince Dauciunas and General Manager Foster Hildreth acknowledged the co-op staff and board members who provided the “safety, reliability” power during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dauciunas relayed the big picture concerns for how our energy landscape is changing.
Hildreth recounted the major challenges to our island communities during the pandemic, and some of the accomplishments of 2020 including the Decatur Island Microgrid project, COVID-19 energy assistance programs and Rock Island Communications’ success in providing internet services to more than 47% of the county.
Island Way Campaign
Hildreth gave members a bright look forward with the mission and activities of the Island Way Campaign: Determining our own Energy Future.
The campaign is designed to help members prepare for the major change in the energy industry due to the escalating climate emergency and resulting shift away from fossil fuels.
Hildreth encouraged members to take advantage of OPALCO’s programs and on-bill financing to make efficiency upgrades and switch to electricity for heating and transportation.
The 2021 Community Solar project was announced as well as a series of Island Way Workshops to help members position themselves for a sustainable and affordable energy future.
Members can register for the workshops at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Island Way workshops:
- 5 p.m., May 27: The Island Way, virtual
- 5 p.m., June 1: Get the Most out of your Ductless Heat Pump, virtual
- Noon, June 14: Switch It Up!, virtual
- 4:30 p.m., Aug. 5: EV Jamboree, OPALCO Eastsound parking lot
- Noon, Aug. 26: How to use SmartHub, virtual
- 5 p.m., Sept. 20: Solar Town Hall, virtual
Find the full list of sessions at www.opalco.com/calendar.
Q&A and Awards
More than 50 of the attendees participated in a Q&A session and asked thoughtful questions about solar power, the future of our power supply, broadband access and tidal power.
Members also expressed gratitude for the cooperative, the dedicated line crew and the various programs that OPALCO offers, like the EV Happy Deal.
Thanks to donations from OPALCO’s generous vendors and partners, about 25 door prizes were given out to members attending the meeting including electric lawn tools, emergency prep kits, battery backups for computers and electric home goods and gift cards.
Prizes were provided by Carlson Sales Metering solutions, CRC, Earthworks, Evergreen Consulting, GenPac, Jen-Jay Inc (local business), NRUCFC, NWPPA, Orcas Construction Co, Pixelspoke, Schrock, Rock Island Communications, Orcas Saw and Rental and Peppe Piccone’s Greenworks dealership.
Based on a roll taken during the annual meeting, members who attended will receive a $10 bill credit (one per membership).
The following co-op members who voted in this years election will receive a $50 bill credit after their names were randomly drawn from all ballots received: Asborn Osland, Margaret Cocchi, Trish Maharam, Michelle Harden, Emma Timmins-Schiffman, Steven Henigson, Christopher Duty, Mark Reisinger, Ida Forsythe, and Arthur Lange.
Members in attendance at the annual meeting also were credited with one raffle entry for a drawing on Oct. 1.
OPALCO is giving away 10 shares of the 2021 Community Solar project and a Greenworks electric lawnmower. Members can enter to win by attending the Island Way workshops; one entry per member per event they attend, based on a roll taken at each meeting.