News & Events

Spring could be considered “co-op season,” because it’s the time of year when several cooperative principles come to life here at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric. With 2012’s financial statements closed and audited, your board of directors will authorize allocation of the margins, or profits, back to your membership account, based on your energy purchases during the year. Our final margin was slim this year, but there will still be an allocation, the details of which we’ll report in Country Lines magazine. These allocations are paper transactions that build your capital credit equity in HomeWorks. Following our policies, the board will also decide whether the co-op’s financial position is strong enough to allow for a cash retirement of capital credits. If they do authorize a retirement, most members will see it as a credit on their energy bill, and again we’ll report it to you in Country Lines, as well as with a special notice included with your bill. Two other big co-op events coming up are the district membership meetings in May, and director elections which take place at those meetings. This year, board seats in District 1 at Charlotte, District 5 at Fulton, and District 7 at Remus will be voted on by those members. All of these co-op activities are not only covered by the cooperative principles, such as democratic member control and members’ economic participation, they are also spelled out in your co-op’s bylaws. A copy of the bylaws, updated by the board of directors last fall, is included in this issue of Country Lines for your reference. Think of it as the instruction manual for HomeWorks. You can also find a copy of the bylaws on our website, at homeworks.org. Some people like to read instruction manuals, and some people don’t. But it’s good to know the information is available to you when you do need it. The bylaws outline our structure and provide continuity as the board and staff change over the years. Bylaws cover everything from the basics of membership (Article II), to the business agenda of district meetings (Article III). They describe the board of directors, the qualifications necessary to serve as a director, and how directors are elected (Article VII). Our non-profit operations, including the allocation of margins and retirement of capital credits, can be found in Article XIV. Whether you ever get around to reading our instruction manual, as a member-owner of HomeWorks you will continue to benefit from the structure they provide.
Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for 9 a.m. April 22, at the cooperative’s Blanchard office The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on April 22, 2013, to be held at the cooperative office at 3681 Costabella Avenue, Blanchard, MI. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors, without filing a formal request under cooperative policy. Members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct interested members to the meeting room. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following items will be considered. Members will have an opportunity to address the board on the proposed changes prior to board action. 1)   Reconcile the 2012 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor collections. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor is applied to Tri-County Electric Cooperative’s retail member-customers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use. It represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually, and reviewed monthly. Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including handicapped parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-562-8232 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling General Manager Mark Kappler at 517-647-1281, or by email at mkappler@homeworks.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines. (as published in April, 2013, edition of Country Lines magazine)
Touchstone Energy Scholarships March 15 is the deadline to apply for help with college expenses through the Touchstone Energy Scholarship program. High school seniors can receive a one-time $1,000 scholarship; adults returning to college can receive a one-time grant of $250. (Two of each scholarships will be given in 2013.) Visit homeworks.org to learn more. Click on the Electric tab, then select For Students and Teachers. Download an application there or call 517-647-1252 (email jayne@homeworks.org). To qualify, the applicant or their parent/guardian must receive electric service from HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at their primary residence. Scholarships are awarded based on academics, need, leadership and community service. Youth Leadership Program High school students have until March 15 to apply for the Youth Leadership Summit and National Rural Electric Youth Tour. Visit miyls.com and select HomeWorks to learn more and let us know you're interested!
Last year I asked if you were helping us build a better world. This year my question is similar: Are you making a difference? This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Tri-County Electric People Fund helping out our neighbors here in mid-Michigan. By rounding up your monthly energy bill, you allow us to donate your spare change – averaging just 50 cents per month – to the People Fund. In turn, a volunteer board of seven cooperative members reviews requests for help from individuals and organizations. The smallest grant they’ve given was $60, to a woman who needed eyeglasses. The largest was for $10,000 to support bone marrow testing. During one of the drives the People Fund helped sponsor, a match was found, and a life was saved. Both of these grants – all of the People Fund’s grants, large and small – make me feel like I’m helping to make a difference for my neighbors. You can read all the details in the People Fund Annual Report that’s wrapped around this issue of Michigan Country Lines, but here’s a couple more significant numbers: The People Fund has made 1,175 grants totaling $1,764,266.25 in its first 20 years. The average, per grant, is $1,501.50. Think of how much more the People Fund could do if all of our members rounded up!   If your energy bill rounds up to an even dollar amount every month, you’re already participating, and we thank you for your continuing support. If your energy bill does not round up to an even dollar amount, please consider calling 1-800-562-8232 to tell us you want to help make a difference with your spare change. The neighbor you help might be your own.
Staying In Our Own Lane “Corporate culture” is a buzz phrase that’s been around a while. Lately, it’s been used by co-ops, too, only we call it “co-op culture.” And now, you’re probably wondering why it should matter to you, as a member of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative? Our co-op culture is our way of working together, something that gives people a “feel” for the co-op, from the inside as a participant or from the outside as a guest or observer. It’s based on our shared attitudes and beliefs, on the 7 cooperative principles followed worldwide, and on the written and unwritten rules that have developed in our 75 years of existence. Our culture determines what is considered right or wrong, important or unimportant, workable or unworkable, and it guides how we respond to the unexpected – crises or sudden change. For instance, when we refer to our culture of safety, we mean this statement of policy from Board Policy 201: “The safety of its employees is a matter of vital concern to the Cooperative.  It is a matter of policy that protective equipment will be supplied and used wherever necessary, and that no service to be rendered ever becomes of such importance that an employee be knowingly endangered.” Culture determines how we treat each other and work together. One of the best descriptions used recently is “stay in our own lane.” What that really means is that each of us – board member, employees, and members – have our own set of responsibilities and we should focus on those, rather than getting distracted by what’s going on in someone else’s area. Board elections, which you can read about on the next page, are one “lane” of responsibility. They’re important because HomeWorks Tri-County’s co-op culture starts with the board of directors. These seven men and women provide the direction that makes sure we’re meeting your needs. The board sets the policies which guide our everyday behaviors, from working safely to making our member-owners the focus of our work. By listening to you, our members, they can tell what’s working and what isn’t, and which areas need more attention. You have your own lane of responsibility that contributes to the co-op’s culture. When you come to meetings, volunteer to be a delegate and attend the annual meeting, step up to be a district officer, or serve your neighbors as a district director, you are saying your cooperative is important to you. For 75 years, we’ve been fortunate to have a strong core of members who value their cooperative. Your participation and support will continue that tradition and determine HomeWorks Tri-County’s co-op culture for the next 75 years.
HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative is accepting applications for our 2013 Touchstone Energy Classroom Technology Grants Program. Schools that serve children of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric members can receive a grant of up to $2,500 to fund innovative programs, particularly those involving technology or equipment that enrich students’ education. Teachers and administrators of public or private K-12 schools may apply. Multiple projects within the same school district can be combined to a total of $2,500 per year. We reserve the right to take pictures of the winners and they may be printed in Country Lines, our member magazine, and/or appear on our website or other electronic media. An impartial panel of judges will review the grant applications. Preference will be given to projects and programs involving use of technology or tangible equipment that enhance learning and are not currently being funded through the school’s budget. For more information, please contact Jayne Graham at jayne@homeworks.org, or 517-647-1252 (1-800-821-4956, ext. 1252).
At HomeWorks Tri-County, we have three top priorities: provide you safe, reliable access to electric power; offer that service as affordably as possible; and do both of those things in a fiscally and environmentally responsible fashion. You’ve told us, at meetings and in surveys, that you value these same priorities. That’s why they are the foundation of our strategic plan, our work plans, and our daily activities. What else does “value” mean to you, when it comes to electricity? For instance, cell phones and other digital devices are a part of our everyday lives. Everyone, it seems, is connected—making phone calls, texting, playing games, checking the internet, or reading e-mail. This instant communication is a luxury we pay for, generally without complaint. But when it comes to electricity—a necessity in our modern world—why do so many of us grumble when the electric bill comes every month? We expect electricity to be there at the flip of the switch, and when it’s not, we get angry or frustrated. As your electric co-op, we have a special responsibility to make sure your electric service is safe, reliable, and affordable. But when compared to other commodities, electricity remains a great value. For example, over the past 10 years, gasoline prices shot up 12.66 percent on average annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cost of a loaf of white bread rose 3.73 percent annually, and a dozen eggs jumped 7.39 percent in price per year. In comparison, electricity has increased just 3.7 percent a year nationally for the past decade. When you consider how reliable electricity is, the value goes up even more. The average HomeWorks member has power 99.97% of the time. That’s a pretty good number, and we’re working every day to increase our service reliability, and control costs through innovative technology. In the past 30 years, the amount of residential electricity used by appliances and electronics has increased from 17 percent to 31 percent. Those cell phones I mentioned earlier? Nearly a third of all U.S. households have four electronic devices, such as cell phones, plugged in and charging, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More homes than ever use major appliances and central air conditioning. Owning digital video recorders (DVRs), computers, and multiple televisions has become commonplace. Clearly, our appetite for electricity shows no signs of slowing down. So the next time you flip a switch, use your toaster, or run your washing machine, remember the value electricity holds. And know that we at HomeWorks are looking out for you by working together to keep electric bills affordable, controlling costs through innovation, and putting you, our members, first. from the January 2013 issue of Michigan Country Lines magazine
We wish you all a safe and joyous holiday season. Our offices will be closed on Tuesday, New Year's Day, to allow our employees to celebrate the New Year with their families. We will re-open at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, for normal business hours. Remember, you can pay anytime by phone, by calling 1-877-999-3395. You can also log into eBill to view your account or pay by check, credit card, or debit card. In case of an electric service emergency, please call 1-800-848-9333. For propane emergencies, please call 1-877-574-2740. Our night and weekend response service will assist you.
Both offices will be closed to allow our families to celebrate Thanksgiving together. We will re-open at 8 am Friday, Nov. 23. In case of emergency, please call 1-800-848-9333 for electric service or 1-877-574-2740 for propane service.
While we, the general managers and CEOs of Michigan’s electric distribution co-ops support renewable energy, we also stand united against Proposal 3. This ballot proposal would amend the Michigan Constitution to include a 25 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which would be very expensive and extreme. Please consider the following important facts about Proposal 3 as you head to the polls on Nov. 6: YOUR CO-OP IS A RENEWABLE ENERGY LEADER. Michigan’s electric co-ops are already leaders in renewable energy, and we support the current 10 percent RPS set by the Legislature in 2008. Electric co-ops are key partners in Michigan’s first commercial wind farm, which is located in the Thumb area and was built prior to any RPS requirements. One of our state’s largest renewable energy resources, a hydro facility in Sault Ste. Marie, is also owned by an electric co-op. THE CONSTITUTION IS THE WRONG PLACE FOR ENERGY POLICY. We strongly believe that the Michigan Legislature—not the constitution—is the place to enact far-reaching energy policy. While the Legislature’s work can be “fine tuned” to allow for changes in technology, the economy or unintended consequences, these types of necessary adjustments would be nearly impossible to achieve if enshrined in the Michigan Constitution. The majority of the financial support for Proposal 3 is coming from out-of-state special interest groups who would profit from binding energy policy into our constitution. RENEWABLE IS NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE. Renewable energy has a place in our power supply toolbox, but its limitations make it less-than-ideal. Wind farms in the state typically only generate 30 percent of the time—and this “reliability” is often lower on the hot, still days when electricity demand is highest. By comparison, wind farms in Texas and parts of the upper Midwest often operate at levels exceeding 40 percent. PROPOSAL 3 WOULD BE EXPENSIVE. Wind power in Michigan is very expensive. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports that it would cost the average residential ratepayer an additional $170 to $190 annually to achieve the 25 percent RPS suggested by Proposal 3. This cost estimate does not even include the additional costs of building new transmission lines or generation needed to “back up” the wind when it does not blow. Solar power is even more expensive, and better suited for other regions of the U.S. We support renewable energy and the current 10 percent RPS, but encourage you to join us in voting “no” against Proposal 3. You can learn more about your co-op’s concerns with Proposal 3 in this edition of Michigan Country Lines (pp. 11, 12-13) and at CAREforMich.com. (signed by Mark Kappler and the general managers of all of Michigan's electric distribution cooperatives)

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