On Tuesday, April 6, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) hosted its first virtual annual meeting in the cooperative's history. As masked and socially distanced NIPCO staff and Directors gathered, in-person, 119 participants logged in to the Microsoft Teams virtual platform that supported the event.
The theme for the 2021 annual meeting was STRONGER TOGETHER and that theme was punctuated by the very fact that NIPCO members and industry partners gathered together to celebrate NIPCO's RESILIENCY through collaboration, CONNECTION through smart, safe, and efficient infrastructure, the POWER of a talented and dedicated workforce, and the STRENGTH of a modernized system that ensures reliability of power delivery well into the future. Alone, each of these elements is a valuable contributor to achieving NIPCO's mission and its "Member's First" promise. But together, they represent so much more.
Following the opening invocation led by Director Bill Farmer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Denny Puckett, NIPCO's attorney from Sullivan & Ward, led the business portion of the meeting. Video reports offered by President Louis Reed and Treasurer Tom Wagner highlighted decisions made at the board table, accomplishments of NIPCO operations, and the financial overview of the cooperative.
Paul Sukut, CEO and Manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, joined the in-person meeting. Following his report on Basin Electric operations, NIPCO Executive Vice President & General Manager Matt Washburn sat down with Sukut for what Matt lightly joked as a "Q&A Session with 'Unfiltered Paul'". Washburn and Sukut discussed the future of Basin Electric as Paul navigates toward his announced retirement.
Washburn reported on events that impacted NIPCO throughout 2020 and the early months of 2021, including lessons learned from operations during a pandemic and NIPCO's response to the February Grid Emergency. Washburn recognized and thanked the employees of NIPCO for their hard work and commitment to delivering on NIPCO's mission to serve the membership safely and reliably. Washburn also spoke of the value of being a member of the cooperative network and the importance of wholesale power contracts. Washburn went on to report on the collaborative efforts of NIPCO and its membership to update the G&T cooperative's strategic plan. The plan addresses NIPCO's service to its members in the face of increased regulation, the future or rural communities, the evolution of beneficial electrification programs and technology, and operations in an economy that continues to see increased pressure for more renewables to be added to the generation mix.
Other meeting highlights included video interviews with NIPCO employees and directors on why they believe, despite the challenges of late, NIPCO has emerged stronger together.
Washburn also provided a brief explanation about NIPCO's donation to the Food Bank of Siouxland in lieu of offering annual meeting gifts to attendees. The Food Bank of Siouxland is the main food supplier for nonprofit agencies that serve in western Iowa, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, residential facilities, daycares, and senior centers. The Food Bank of Siouxland provides food and hunger-fighting programs to approximately 100 member agencies in every county served by the NIPCO membership.
Before the conclusion of the annual meeting, NIPCO Vice President Ron Steinhoff represented the Board of Directors in presenting its 2021 N-Ovation Award to Nishnabotna Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) Director and former NIPCO Director Don Applegate. Don Applegate received the recognition in honor of his dedication to the rural electric cooperative industry which spans nearly one half-century. Read more about the N-Ovation Award and why Don was honored here.
NIPCO is STRONGER TOGETHER because we believe in the cooperative model and the value of trusted partnerships that have been forged through accountability, transparency, and unwavering service to our member systems and those at the end of the line.