The meeting was opened by Chairman Michael Brelage and Brian Scheidler kept the minutes of the meeting.
All board members were present except Jason Barnhorst who joined by phone. Also present was CEO Brett Abplanalp and employee Eric Busch. Crystal Greathouse joined by phone.
Upon motion made by Dale Wernke, seconded by Steve AmRhein and carried, the agenda was approved.
Safety Minute and Cool Moment — Brett Abplanalp
Lineman Brian AmRhein was grabbing a quick lunch at Pizza King between jobs when he noticed a man choking. AmRhein jumped into action and was able to dislodge the food stuck in the victim’s airway, allowing him to breathe. His safety training was second nature as he instinctively worked to help the man in need. AmRhein displayed the kind of selfless service and concern for community that the cooperatives are built on. DCREMC is lucky to have such dedicated, selfless employees who go above and beyond every day. Thankfully, an anonymous witness shared the story with DCREMC and thanked AmRhein for his service. Well done, Brian.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes — Michael Brelage
Upon motion made by Steve AmRhein, seconded by Carl Riedeman, and carried, the minutes for the Oct. 22 board meeting were approved.
CEO Update — Brett Abplanalp
The CEO report was reviewed as presented on Call to Order. Abplanalp explained that he and the staff have been busy preparing the budget that was distributed to the board and will also be loaded in Call to Order. Project updates are as follows: Front lobby security upgrade is moving forward, the reconductoring project is on track to be done by the end of the year, and the prior to 2019 pole replacements are expected to be completed by the end of the year as well. Abplanalp then reviewed the monthly dashboard metrics.
Financial Update — Eric Busch
The financials were reviewed as presented on Call to Order. For the month of October, operating margins were at $63,762 compared to a budgeted of $31,583. Year-to-date operating margins are at $1,073,380 compared to a budget of $537,351. A summary of plant investment spent and the REMC’s cash position through October 2020 were also reviewed with the board.
There was a discussion about the possibility of changing the fiscal year-end for the REMC from May 31 to Dec. 31. Management will reach out to our current audit firm to gather additional information and report back to the board.
Policy Reviews — Michael Brelage
Redlines for policy 10-3 sick leave, were presented.
Upon motion made by Dale Wernke, seconded by Jason Barnhorst and carried, the redlines were approved with changes.
Budget Ask Approval — Michael Brelage
A need for audio and video equipment in the board room was presented in response to more virtual meetings.
Upon motion made by Jeff Lawrence, seconded by Riedeman and carried, audio and video equipment that consists of a Logitech camera and microphones totaling approximately $2,000 were approved.
Quarterly Risk Management Report Q3 — Brett Abplanalp
The risk management report was reviewed as presented in Call to Order. Abplanalp reported that we have moved to a new format to assess the risk tolerance and a one to six scale rather than one to three. Abplanalp reported management believes we have mitigations in place to operate at an acceptable risk level. We have identified some projects that will need to be discussed in our budget review and potentially become 2021 projects. We believe the new format will provide even more oversite to our company risk.
Members’ Meeting Discussion — Michael Brelage
On Nov. 11, some members of the board met with a group of concerned members. One of the things the member group requested was to have the meeting minutes recorded verbatim. The board believes that request has already been met by having the meeting recorded and published online. Another issue that came from that meeting is that there is a premise that directors are not allowed to talk to members. That premise came directly from a board member who misinterpreted a communication with the chairperson. It was established that directors are, in fact, allowed to talk to members but should not attempt to address member complaints or issues themselves. Directors should, however, inform the member to contact the subject matter expert at DCREMC in order to address the issue or concern. The final issue that was discussed was that the concerned members wanted to know why DCREMC did not apply for the PPP loan.
After thorough and careful analysis of the PPP loan program, it was determined that DCREMC’s financial position was not going to be materially impacted by COVID and therefore it wasn’t right for us to apply for the loan possibly taking funds from a business that truly needed it.
Additionally, the PPP program only awarded funds as a grant, not requiring repayment, providing the company met certain criteria. Otherwise those funds are treated as a loan. At the time, it was unclear if DCREMC would meet those criteria.
Hoosier Energy Board/Committee Update — Jason Barnhorst
The main takeaway from the Hoosier meeting is that the work plan and budget for 2021 was passed. We are still on track to see a reduction in the wholesale power rate. A $6.5 million capital credit retirement was approved and DCREMC should receive roughly $375,000 around the first of the year.
IEC Board/Committee Update — Steve AmRhein
Annual meeting will be virtual on Dec. 7.
Broadband Committee — Dale Wernke
The committee is trying to make DCREMC’s satellite internet service, Via Sat, more available to our members by lowering costs by reducing margins. The committee hopes to take action on this in the December board meeting. Lawrence went into detail about his internet service and how he has had Via Sat installed at his home. Lawrence then stated that even though Via Sat is very good he has another internet provider available to him that is not satellite based that he plans on keeping in the long term.
Director Training Report — Michael Brelage
Wernke attended CCD 2610 (Understanding the Electric Business) and with that has completed all his CCD classes and will receive his certification.
Upon motion made by Lawrence, seconded by Riedeman and carried, the meeting was adjourned to executive session at 8:24 p.m. and reconvened at 8:48 p.m.
Union Contract — Michael Brelage
Upon motion made by Steve AmRhein, seconded by Brian Scheidler and carried, the union contract was approved with Lawrence and Riedeman dissenting.
The board then adjourned to executive session at 8:49 p.m.