Once again, we fell victim to bad weather on our annual meeting day. You may recall that the last time we held an in-person annual meeting the same thing happened. Shortly before that meeting was supposed to begin, visibility started to diminish when a spring blizzard descended upon us. We suspended all the nonessential parts of the meeting and hurried everyone back home as quickly as we could. That was 2019. After two long years of waiting through the pandemic, we were finally able to get together in person, only to have the meeting shortened by inclement weather once again. For those of you who came to the meeting, thanks for braving the storm. For those that didn’t make it, we promise to do our best to have a wonderful annual meeting next year.
We were certainly only mildly inconvenienced by the weather event we had, but the cooperatives in northwestern North Dakota were not so lucky. Heavy amounts of snow and ice devastated much of their distribution systems. With an estimated 4,000 poles broken and thousands of residents without power, one of our guiding principles, cooperation among cooperatives, came into action. Twenty-three of our lineworkers volunteered to go out west and help restore power. I’m happy to report that as of this writing, after many long days, almost all accounts have been reenergized and our line crews are returning home safely.
As an electric cooperative, we recognize Electrical Safety Month each May, but we also know the importance of practicing safety year-round. From our co-op crews to you, the consumer-members we serve, we recognize that everyone has a part to play in prioritizing safety.
Thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured or electrocuted each year as a result of electrical fires and accidents in their own homes. Many of these accidents are preventable. Electricity is a necessity, and it powers our daily lives. But we know firsthand how dangerous electricity can be because we work with it 365 days a year.
To me, safety is more than a catchphrase. It’s my responsibility to keep co-op employees safe. Additionally, we want to help keep you and all members of our community safe. Our top priority is providing an uninterrupted energy supply 24/7, 365 days per year. But equally important is keeping our community safe around electricity. I encourage you to talk with your kids about playing it safe and smart around electricity. Help them be aware of overhead power lines near where they play outdoors.
Finally, I’d like to say congratulations and thank you to our three incumbent directors who were reelected to three-year terms at our annual meeting. Our cooperative is as strong as it is because of the dedication and hard work of folks like them who choose to offer their services on our board of directors.