“The Road to Engagement” was the theme of the 78th annual meeting of the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association held in the John Q. Hammons Conference Center at Embassy Suites in Loveland on April 8. More than a thousand members enjoyed a hot breakfast and fellowship around gaily decorated round tables, but a small group of linemen were not present for the festivities.
These PVREA employees were exemplifying the road to engagement theme on an international level by building electric lines in Caracol, Haiti, an area that had no electricity until a few years ago. The linemen were working alongside Haitian lineworkers sharing their knowledge as part of a pilot project for sustainable electricity distribution established by National Rural Electric Coop Association International with funding from USAID. The project is the only utility in Haiti providing continuous reliable electric service in Haiti.
“Some of the workers in Haiti are veterans,” PVREA’s member relations manager David White explained. “They were hired through our connection with Serve Our Troops-Serve Our Country, an organization that gives preference to veterans. In 2016, 25 percent of our new hires were veterans.”
The road to engagement theme came alive at the annual meeting as short videos described visits to local schools where PVREA representatives spoke to students about the coop and the importance of safety when working with electricity. As part of their involvement with the schools, PVREA has worked with the Fossil Ridge High School robotics program and been involved with school awards nights. PVREA will offer a week-long Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs and a Youth Tour to Washington, both planned for the summer of 2018.
In the community, PVREA participates in all sorts of events from county fairs and festivals to United Way and Flight for Life in their efforts to enrich community life. It is part of the heritage of a non-profit cooperative organization founded out of a need for affordable rural electricity and owned and operated by its members. Any profits realized are returned to members.
Following breakfast, PVREA president and CEO Jeff Wadsworth gave an update of 2016 explaining that by embracing technology the coop was able to avoid a rate increase in 2016 and spoke of an additional 60 megawatts of renewable energy in the form of hydro and solar that were added in the last year. A new solar facility will be located at the Larimer County Landfill and will come online in 2017. Members were invited to participate in it.
Wadsworth emphasized the fact that despite its growth, PVREA employees and members continue to know each other and feel as if they are part of a family.
The business meeting featured several other speakers and a keynote address by leadership development specialist Richard Fagerlin on the importance of trust. Before the meeting adjourned, an array of door prizes were presented to members and the board of directors for 2017 was elected.