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Historic Year Detailed at District Meetings

Quorums reached in four of six districts

March is always among the busier months for Valley Electric Association, Inc., with annual meetings being conducted in each of the Cooperative’s six districts.

In 2017, the meetings were conducted each Tuesday and Thursday from March 6 to March 22.

VEA CEO Thomas Husted, executive staff and board members had opportunities to meet with member-owners in each district, answer questions, review financials and recap the year’s highlights. Quorums were reached in four of the six districts, the first time in years that has occurred.

Curt Stengel, a retired Metropolitan Police Officer said he used the time to catch up with old friends at the District 2 meeting at Amargosa Valley.  

“I like to also get updated on the progress on some of the things that Valley Electric has gotten into like the sale of the 230-kV transmission line,” said Curt Stengel, a retired Metropolitan Las Vegas Police Officer. Curt has been coming to these meetings since 2004 and came to the district meetings to see his good friend Jim Rook, a retired McDonnel Douglass aeronautical engineer, who has been with VEA since 1998.

Like Curt, Jim can’t stay away from the meetings either.

“I think they are great (the meetings),” Jim said. “VEA has great rates, and good service. What else can you ask for? And this company listens to us. We like coming to see what all is going on.”

At the second meeting in Fish Lake Valley, District 4 members were still excited about the addition of high-speed broadband to the area.

Patty Hudson, a 30-year resident of Fish Lake Valley and a business owner, said Valley Communications Association’s high-speed broadband has improved her family’s business, allowing for the ordering of parts online.

“It is so much better than what we had before,” Patty said. “My husband is a diesel mechanic, and before VCA came to our town he spent 70 percent of his time getting parts from out of town, which was an all-day trip.”

At the third meeting in District 6, Pahrump members came to hear the highlights of the year. The members were looking to the future and what else VEA was going to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Member Diane Brungard said VEA was doing terrific in her area and she especially appreciated the new broadband services.

“They (VCA) are working hard, and they are moving ahead with broadband,” she said. “I think this is just the beginning, and I think there are so many possibilities with it.”

For new member Karen Seng, the meeting was her first. She came to the meeting to find out when her area was going to get fiber and to find out more information about the service.

“I think VEA is doing a good job keeping people informed,” she said.  “Any time you have a problem they are good about sending someone out.”

The fourth meeting in District 5 was in Sandy Valley, where the excitement of new high-speed broadband was fresh news. Members had nothing but praise for VCA and their hard work in the valley.

VEA member Scott Griesman said he had lived with poor Internet service in Sandy Valley since 2006 and was also curious about the new service.

“I came out here to find out about Internet,” Scott said. “You only come when you want change, and really the electrical service has been so great that I haven’t needed to come.”

In District 3, Beatty members showed up in force to re-elect Rick Johnson to a third term on the board of directors. The Beatty members were pleased with the overall growth of the company and the direction the company was headed.

Bob Marchand a longtime VEA member, who has been coming to these meetings for 10 years said VEA does a great job in supporting the community.

“We want to show them support,” Marchand said.  “And we feel Rick Johnson does a fantastic job out here in the community.”

As in Beatty, South Pahrump District 1 members were also consumed by the elections and voted to re-elect Pete Gazsy to the Board of Directors for his third term. Carol Slaughter has lived in Pahrump the last 12 years and came to the meeting with her husband, Fred.

“I came to vote, but also came to hear what VEA had to say,” Carol said.

At the district meetings, Husted began his recap by saying how “remarkable and historic” the year was because of the record setting margin of $61 million, which he said translates into in to rate stability and affordability for members.

“So, all the successes allow us rate protection, rate stability,” Tom said. “Our present rate structure is 10.9 cents of per kilowatt hour. That was established in 2009 and put in place in 2010. Here we are in 2018 and forecasting rate stability barring any foreseen circumstances through 2024.”

The CEO credited much of the financial success to the Valley family of brands, including VEA, Valley Electric Energy Services (VEES), Valley Electric Utility Services (VEUS), Valley Electric Transmission Association (VETA) and VCA.

Tom spoke about the endless possibilities open to Valley Electric Energy Services because of the new era of “Energy Choice,” an initiative voted on by the people in 2016. He also talked about the Nevada West Connect project and the many possibilities open to VEA and VETA through the partnership with GridLiance Holdco, which purchased the 230-kV system in September 2017.

“The Valley Brand of companies are poised to move forward as this ever-changing world continues to evolve,” Tom explained. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Valley Electric brand of companies have a great future.”

Tom stressed importance of high-speed communications. Just as VETA was the “darling of the company” in 2017 due to the 230-kV lines, VCA will be in 2018 for the expansion of high-speed broadband to rural areas.

The CEO stressed the importance of communications to rural areas.  He said in these rural areas people must have access to quality communications.

Otherwise, “we will see an exodus of the rural areas not only in our areas but of all of rural America. Just simply because of the importance of communications in our lives today.”

Amargosa Town Board member Trevor Dolby said he wasn’t surprised by anything Tom said.

“None of it was surprising if you read the newspapers and the magazines you could have anticipated all that,” he said. “I was prepared with a question about the transmission from Beatty to Bishop, but he answered all that before he was done. So, no surprises.”

Maria Dowers, a Fish Lake Valley member, was grateful for the presentation. She said she learned a lot and thought the meeting was informative, especially the financial aspect of it.

“I was satisfied with Tom’s answers, even with the harder questions,” Dowers said.  “And we now have the broadband here, and I just see a lot of strides going forward, and I am happy about that.”

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