Future bright for Del. Electric Cooperative

HARRINGTON — Delaware Electric Cooperative has had “another good year,” president and CEO Bill Andrew told more than 1,200 DEC members gathered Tuesday for the annual meeting.

More than 6,000 people flocked to the state fairgrounds for the nonprofit’s gathering, the purpose of which is to allow directors to hear from members and provide updates on the cooperative’s status.

Now in its 79th year, the electric cooperative is doing well, Mr. Andrew said.

After a rate increase in 2014 blamed on the polar vortex, DEC was able to avoid increases this year. The state has been hit by fewer storms this year than in previous ones, although, as a DEC spokesman noted, it is currently hurricane season.

The cooperative’s Beat the Peak program, which started in 2008, has saved more than $20 million for members. DEC asks members to conserve energy by turning off lights, using fewer appliances and keeping air conditioning to a minimum during times when energy is particularly in demand, chiefly in the summer.

Those in the audience in the Dover Building applauded several times as Mr. Andrew described the cooperative’s goals — to provide affordable energy to everyone — and the steps it is taking to help its 84,000-plus members.

DEC has added a number of members along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in recent years as it continues to grow.

That’s good not only for the nonprofit but for the overall economy, spokesman Jeremy Tucker said.

The cooperative owns its power plants, allowing it to be the “most competitive” supplier in Delaware, Mr. Andrew said.

DEC is working with nine other cooperatives to build a power plant in Rising Sun, Maryland. It is expected to open in 2017.

“We’re anticipating that to be a huge benefit for the next 30 years for our members in providing reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sound power,” Mr. Andrew said. “It’s a gas-fired combine cycle combustion turbine, one of the most efficient units that’s in the market today.”

The people DEC employees spoke to Tuesday before the meeting had both questions and compliments, thanking DEC for saving them money and asking what the cooperative is doing to boost its efficiency and be environmentally friendly. Those are two key goals for the nonprofit, Mr. Andrew said. The Rising Sun power plant will help in those regards.

With an annual average cost of 12.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, DEC strives to be affordable.

“We’ve positioned ourselves very well in the power supply area, as well as the reliability area, keeping the lights on,” Mr. Andrew said.

Noting with a laugh that while he cannot predict the future (and if he could, he’d be running for president), Mr. Andrew confidently stated that Delawareans who are part of the cooperative should continue to enjoy the benefits it offers.

For Delaware Electric Cooperative and its members, the future looks bright — pun intended.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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