At its annual membership meeting on April 1, Wolverine Power Cooperative CEO Eric Baker reported that the co-op ended 2014 with a lot of excitement and optimism over successful projects and upcoming plans. “We set a course forward for the next decade and resolved some long-term issues,” he said.
Wolverine’s 2014 actually started out with two major disappointments – cancellation of the Rogers City Clean Energy Venture and Marquette Presque Isle Power Plant projects. But Baker credited the co-ops’ employees, board and partners for ending the year with four major successes:
- Secured 12 years’ worth of future power supply contracts, including renewables;
- Started the new Alpine Power Plant, which will be operational prior to summer peak 2017, and with many coal plants retiring, is vital to Michigan’s electric reliability;
- Engineered a five-year plan to replacing aging buildings with a headquarters/energy control center and remodeling of service centers that will address cyber security improvements; and
- Increased the co-op’s financial strength (peaking plants built 15 years ago will be paid for within one year), which increases its ability to invest now for long-term member benefit and helps stabilize rates for nearly a decade to come.
Overall, the co-op earned $17 million in assets, $668 million in revenues, and increased total sales by 2%, Baker said. Baker credits the rise in sales to the “gadget effect” of more people using electronics, and the addition of Midwest Energy as a member.
Further, the co-op adopted a rate determination process that allows extra for more predictable rates or decreases, and allows its members to more comfortably set their own rates.
Wolverine also retired $8l.2 million in capital credits to its members in 2014. “One-half of G&Ts don’t retire capital credits, so this is impressive,” Baker noted.
“We’re investing $350 million over the next 5 years, and when we’re done, our rates will be lower than in five years…I don’t know of any other utility in the country that can say that,” he said.