EnergyLines May 2016

The power of people, technology and partnerships


By any measure, 2015 was a good year for Hoosier Energy. The generation and transmission electric cooperative posted strong financial results, maintained competitive wholesale rates, and recorded the best reliability and safety in many years.


At Hoosier Energy’s 67th annual meeting on April 7, Steve Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hoosier Energy, reflected on how achieving these successes, as well as the company’s long legacy of overcoming obstacles, bodes well for meeting future challenges. “So what is it about our past that informs our future, recognizing that new challenges will be distinctly different? I believe people, technology and partnerships are common threads.”


Taken together, those three factors are the key to Hoosier Energy and its 18 member systems advancing the business. In meeting challenges such as building a cooperative power supply, deregulation, diversification and expansion of the generation transmission system, ongoing environmental regulation and enhancing reliability and services, Hoosier Energy and its member systems have ensured that the G&T is delivering on its mission to provide assured, reliable and competitively priced energy and services in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner.


In his address before 300 electric cooperative directors, employees and special guests at the French Lick Conference Center, Smith said that through people, technology and partnerships, the electric cooperative will continue to succeed for years to come.


“People will advance our business into the future, whether through decisions made today or in 20 years. We are hiring and retaining enthusiastic, passionate and capable individuals who value the cooperative business model and its unique benefits,” Smith said. “Technology is developing at an extraordinary pace, bringing greater efficiencies across the system. And, partnerships are a key tool to gain scale, reduce risk and manage costs.” 


To emphasize how Hoosier Energy employees are using technology and member partnerships, the annual meeting featured reports from department managers on key strategic initiatives.


Eight exhibits showcased employee and member services. As attendees strolled past the booths, they talked with employees about the latest advances in environmental education, economic development, MV-Web – a web-based analysis tool, operations and power delivery, employee training, renewables, demand side management initiatives and safety and training.


The power delivery booth drew widespread attention with an exact replica of a substation, assembled by a Hoosier Energy employee.

Darin Duncan, the outgoing chairman of the Hoosier Energy board and a director on the Harrison REMC board, also emphasized the importance of alliances and partnerships. Whether in business, or personal pursuits, the fundamentals of trust, respect and working together for the common good are the pathways to success, he said.


“It’s that foundation of cooperation and mutual respect that keeps the business going. And it’s that same focus on cooperation that keeps the cooperative business model going,” Duncan said.


Teamwork, he said, is much like coaching 8th grade boys basketball, a side endeavor that Duncan has enjoyed for the last several years. The biggest challenge, he says, is getting the players to buy into the “we – not me” philosophy. The same is true for our business. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s basketball, or business or keeping the lights on. What matters is knowing we’re all in this together,” Duncan said.


In looking back on his two-year tenure as board chairman, Duncan praised the Managers Association for working together to tackle some big issues. “They have really united to confront some great challenges over the past couple of years, such as distributed generation, employee training and the financial strength of your G&T.”


Duncan thanked his fellow board members and cooperative colleagues and offered these parting words of advice:


“Look for the opportunities to work for the collective good. Don’t be afraid to take risks or ‘think outside the box’ to confront problems in your communities or in our industry. To quote the successful businessman Warren Buffett, ‘Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.’  Don’t be afraid to plant the trees, even if you know that you won’t get the immediate shade.  Remember, we are in this for the long haul.”


The annual meeting also included a video presentation that highlighted Hoosier Energy’s 2015 operating and financial accomplishments, including advancements in an “all-of-the-above” power supply strategy, power delivery improvements, updates on safety and energy efficiency programs, member services and economic development successes.


Bartholomew County REMC Director Curt Burbrink sang the National Anthem and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to open the meeting. Five directors were honored for their years of service to the generation and transmission cooperative: Augie Bauer, Daviess-Martin County REMC, for 15 years; Jerry Pheifer, South Central Indiana REMC, for 10 years, and Jodi Creek, Whitewater Valley REMC, Gary Waninger, Southern Indiana Power and David Smith, Southeastern REMC, for two years.



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