Cullman Electric Co-op goes virtual with 84th annual meeting

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Cullman Electric Cooperative CEO Tim Culpepper speaks virtually at the Co-op’s 84th annual meeting Saturday. (Video capture/Cullman Electric Cooperative)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In a year full of unique challenges, Cullman Electric Cooperative took on another new task Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, by hosting its 84th annual meeting as a virtual event.

The normal fanfare of music, food and games that typically comes before the business meeting was replaced this year by one hour of registration and voting at the co-op’s Eva Road office. The business meeting was held in the Grady Smith Community Room, with live streaming video available on Cullman EC’s website and Facebook.

A total of 7,089 co-op members — more than 20% of Cullman EC’s membership — registered and voted in the board of trustees’ election. David Hembree (District 7), Chad Alexander (District 8) and Lynda Carter (At-large) were re-elected to the board for three-year terms.

During the business meeting, CEO Tim Culpepper gave an update on how Cullman Electric has operated over the past year, noting the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented over the past six months.

“We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned how to work better. We’ve learned how to work remotely,” Culpepper said. “We’ve learned how to use our technology in ways we’ve never used it before. We have improved the way we approach our job. We’re working smarter and better.

“If you would have told me last year at the annual meeting that we would be launching a major fiber project during the middle of a pandemic while also completing major construction projects I would have told you that you were crazy. But we’re well on our way through all of the challenges that have been presented, and I’m proud of our staff and our membership that we have pulled together and made it through.

Culpepper gave a progress report the co-op’s Sprout Fiber Internet project, provided an update on construction at the Eva Road office and the new substation near Interstate 65 and County Road 222, and shared details of the co-op’s financial performance over the past year.

“The COVID crisis has presented financial challenges for us here at the co-op,” Culpepper said. “We had a loss of revenue based on the fact we weren’t charging late fees, and a drop in overall kilowatt hour usage. Some of our large users have cut production during the COVID crisis and are only now ramping back up to their normal usage.

“We have faced those challenges by trying to cut costs as best we can, and we also received help from TVA. TVA has provided a COVID relief credit beginning in October of this year, that will help us to recover some of those costs. It will also help us to not have a rate increase this year I’m proud to say. We look forward to the coming year and the challenges that it may bring, although we hope they’re not the challenges we had to face this year.

All members who registered for the annual meeting were entered into a drawing for the grand prize — a 2010 Ford Explorer — or one of 10 bill credits worth $100 to $500. The prize winners were:

Grand prize — 2010 Ford Explorer:  Decca Rusk

$500 bill credit: Leesa Fischer

$250 bill credit (4): Millard Mason, Bruce Helton, Sandra Humphrey and Nancy Roberson

$100 bill credit (5): Martha Mosteller, Stanley Barbee, Carolyn Morris, Hollis Gardner and Carolyn Needham