News & Events

A few members have questioned an article in the September issue of Michigan Country Lines, in which we explained why our employees will not physically handle your credit card, nor do we have access to your full credit card number through our computer system. While some other companies, for example restaurants, still take your credit card away for processing, the payment card industry has set very high security standards with costly penalties if there is a breach in credit card security. As a member-owned cooperative, we felt the risk of such a penalty is too high a cost to expect our members to bear in case someone manages to hack our systems. All credit card payments made to HomeWorks Tri-County are managed through a third-party system. You are encouraged to pay with your credit card at the payment station in either office, on our website, or by using our pay by phone service at 1-877-999-3395. You can also store your number on the system when you’ve logged into your account via SmartHub (online or through your smart device), and through the pay by phone service. Once stored, you can then call our regular phone number and confirm the last 4 digits of the card number to a customer service representative. We can then use the stored information to process your credit card payment.
National Cooperative Month is celebrated annually in October across the U.S., allowing us to reflect on our shared principles. One principle is our concern for community, where our member-owners live and work. From providing technology in classrooms to supporting new jobs and industry, we are committed to improving our member-owners’ quality of life through being involved in our communities. The Tri-County Electric People Fund, which returns members’ spare change to families and organizations in need, is one great example. Moreover, our employees are encouraged to look outward for ways to get involved, through sports, schools, and social groups. Another co-op principle is cooperation among cooperatives. We serve our member-owners most effectively, and strengthen the co-op movement, by working together. People are often amazed by the extent of the cooperative network: We are insured by a cooperative insurance company, which is a leader in creating a culture of safety for our employees. It’s good business for them, but their concern is for the people they’re reaching. The software for our computer systems, from desktops to mobile apps, comes from an information systems cooperative, one of several that’s been formed by electric co-ops over the years. Our after-hours call center and dispatch service are supplied by a co-op that started out as several small co-ops looking for an effective and economic way to provide a 24-hour response for their members. We purchase many of our materials – utility poles, transformers, wire, and more – from a rural electric supply cooperative. We even bank with two different cooperatives – including the Portland Federal Credit Union right down the road from our office (we, in turn, serve a couple of their branch offices.) We purchase electric power from a cooperative that we own along with four other Michigan electric co-ops. Like all the other co-ops mentioned above, and like HomeWorks, Wolverine Power Cooperative is operated for the benefit of its member-owners, not for profit. We have mutual aid agreements to help each other out in times of need – say, for instance, a big storm swipes across lower Michigan. Co-ops to the north and south of us may not be affected and would have line crews and equipment to spare to help us rebuild and restore power. As one of the owners of each of these co-ops, we know that we have a say in their operations. When we elect a board member to represent us, receive capital credits, or are consulted on our future needs, the feeling of being a co-op owner can’t be beat. We hope you feel the same way about HomeWorks Tri-County!
Three directors-elect to be seated following 2016 Annual Meeting on August 20 Meet Your New Directors District 1 - John Lord, Leslie John Lord, now retired, sold furniture to schools and universities for over 10 years. Previously, he worked at AT&T as an account service administrator and project manager for General Motors and the State of Michigan. His family includes his wife, Ellen, three children, 10 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren (and two more on the way). A member of the co-op since 1989, John’s involvement with Tri-County Electric started in 1948 when his parents, Dr. George and Caryle Lord, bought the Speedway Fruit Farm on M-50 between Charlotte and Eaton Rapids. He and his brothers attended the one-room Perkey School through 8th grade. John graduated from Charlotte High School in 1965, then earned a BS in Psychology from MSU in 1969. John’s community activities include membership in Mason First United Methodist Church and serving as a sixth-grade grandparent-mentor at Mason Middle School since 2000. John has been a member of the Dimondale Lions Club for nearly 30 years, and is currently serving his third term as president. In 2007 he was honored by the club after 17 years of coordinating their blood drives. As a donor to the American Red Cross himself, he has given over 300 pints of blood and platelets. “My involvement in industry with large customers; volunteering with Girl Scouts and the Lions, and at the middle school; as well as attending district meetings and serving as district chairman for several years, have all prepared me for the duties and responsibilities of the board. I've had a lot of experience in business and non-profits and can promise I'll do the very best job I know how.” District 5 - Corinna Batora, Elsie Corinna A. Batora is a policy and training analyst for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She and her husband, Tom, have been married 23 years and they have a 14 year-old-son. A member of HomeWorks since 1998, Corinna says the Batora family has been members of the cooperative since power came to the Bannister area. She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from Michigan State, and is a 2012 graduate of the Michigan Department of Human Services Leadership Academy. Corinna has been active in both the community and local schools for many years, including as a Family Farm and Home volunteer, a former board member for the Paine Gillam Scott Museum, on the St. Johns Downtown Management Board, and the school parent teacher organization. While owning and operating The Classic Bed and Breakfast in St. Johns for eight years, she also served on the board of the Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association. She was also a board member for the Michigan Family Support Council. “This is my fourth year as the Secretary for District 5. In my current role as secretary I have participated in both board and district meetings; and encouraged Tri-County to implement texting and other electronic communications for our members. I am committed to the continued success of our cooperative, and will diligently work with the board and our great staff to meet our future challenges!”  District 7 - Shirley Sprague, Barryton Shirley Sprague has owned and operated the Perennial Patch nursery in Barryton for the past 31 years. She has been Sheridan Township treasurer for 14 years. Her family includes her husband, Eldon, and their four sons. A member of HomeWorks since 1979, she is a graduate of Chippewa Hills High School, and has participated in educational courses for various township board positions, including board of review, election boards, and treasurer.  Shirley has served Sheridan Township since 1994, on the board of review and election boards, before becoming treasurer. In addition to serving the community through her township work, her community activities include years of volunteer work for the Chippewa Hills School District. Duties at the school ranged from tutoring to managing Reading Is Fundamental and other programs. She has been a community program volunteer, done fundraising work, and income tax preparation for the AARP program. “My life experiences have prepared me to be an effective public official. I feel a responsibility to those I serve to be informed, dependable and accountable. Throughout my career, I have worked diligently to see projects through and provide meaningful solutions.”
One of our favorite times of the year is the two weeks in May when the HomeWorks team hits the road to visit each district, holding the annual membership meetings. It’s great to see so many familiar, smiling faces, to welcome us and share a bite to eat. This year’s meetings were a little bittersweet, knowing it was the last meeting as director for Phil Conklin in District 1, Cara Evans in District 5, and Dean Floria in District 7. After a combined 72 years of service to the co-op as board members, they have chosen to enjoy retirement and watch new people bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the table. The nominating committees in all three districts provided a strong slate of candidates, and we’re looking forward to seeing how you voted. The three new directors will be seated at the Annual Meeting of the Cooperative in August. For those of you who could not make it to one of this year’s meetings, here are a couple of the highlights from our brief operations report. Membership growth is very slow, and members are taking advantage of Energy Optimization programs to save energy and money. Meanwhile, costs continue to rise for labor, equipment, and intangibles such as insurance and property taxes. So, for the first time in six years, your board is considering a rate increase.     A Cost of Service study was performed by an independent consultant, and it looks like we’ll need about a     3% increase to keep HomeWorks Tri-County stable, and continue providing reliable service. This will be     considered in detail on June 27, at a special open membership meeting (see the notice on page 5.) Even though the Supreme Court has blocked implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which also allowed Michigan legislators to put their energy bill on a back burner, Wolverine Power Cooperative is working to make sure we’re ready to meet the requirements of the CPP or any new Michigan policy.     With new projects under contract right now, Wolverine will be at 30% renewables next year. Wolverine is     also about ready to test the new Alpine Power Plant near Gaylord. And they’re doing it while keeping your     power supply rates stable. There was more to talk about, from capital credit retirements on your May energy statement, to our community service programs here in mid-Michigan, as well as a look back at Michigan’s Partners for Power project in Guatemala late last year. There’s a lot of good things going on at your co-op these days. Whether you were able to come hear about it at one of this year’s district meeting or not, your board of directors and staff thank you for your continued support of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric.
We’re currently looking for a team player with good communication skills, a self-starter who can work without constant, close supervision, once trained. You must be dependable and punctual. Your job will support the customer service team and others, scanning paperwork into electronic files, doing miscellaneous filing and other office tasks. We prefer a high school junior or senior (as of September 2016), with reliable transportation. This position is open immediately, with up to 40 hours per week during the summer, and 2:30 – 5 pm Monday-Friday (except holidays) when school is in session. Interested? please reply with a cover letter and resume to Missy Robson by June 10, 2016, or email mrobson@homeworks.org. No calls, please.
Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for June 27, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Portland office The board of directors will consider several changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on June 27, 2016, to be held at the cooperative office at 7973 Grand River Avenue, Portland, 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 the 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: 1)   Revise the cooperative’s electric rates to meet current and future financial needs, based on an independent Cost of Service study. 2)   Reconcile the 2015 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 fluctuating costs of the power supply, as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually and reviewed monthly. 3)   Discuss participation in the State of Michigan’s Low Income Energy Assistance program at the cost of a surcharge, to be determined by the state, on each residential customer’s monthly energy bill. 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.
2016 is a great year for you to be part of a democracy. Not the democracy that votes for seats in Lansing or Washington, D.C., or even in your township, city, or county, but a working democracy that you and your neighbors own - your electric cooperative! In May each year, HomeWorks Tri-County staff brings the co-op to your neighborhood, with seven district member meetings where you can learn what's going on with YOUR electric utility. It's kind of like a town hall. You come out and visit with your neighbors, enjoy a light meal, then conduct the business of your cooperative, whether you're electing district officers or your district's representative to the board of directors, and learn about the co-op's operations. We'll have plenty of staff on hand so you can ask questions about your service, or about our solar garden, Energy Optimization programs, payment options, propane business, Country Lines magazine, and more. We’ll bring our CFL recycling bucket, and you can plan to buy LED bulbs and smart power strips with our instant rebates from Energy Optimization. We have activities for youngsters, and a prize drawing for kids aged 5 to 16. For adults, there’s a nice grand prize at each district of a 32-inch smart TV, plus drawings for energy billing credits, and a gift at the door for all who attend. We usually start serving supper by 5:30 p.m., and unless there are a lot of questions, you’ll be back on the road by 7:30 or so. So it’s a quick evening, and we try to make it fun and informative. But it’s not a democracy without you there, taking part in running your cooperative. We’d love to see you, whether you’ve never been to a district meeting before, or if you’ve been to 50 of them. Come out and see if we measure up, as your democracy.   May, 2016 Michigan Country Lines
One of the great things about electric cooperatives is how we work together. A great example is our mutual aid system. We get help from our sister co-ops when we have many outages after a storm, and in turn we send crews to help out when we’re needed elsewhere. We sent linemen up north to Presque Isle Electric & Gas in Onaway after we finished repairs this past Christmas, for instance, and we’ve been able to call on Great Lakes Energy and Midwest Energy for crews and equipment during past storms. There are other good ideas that get shared when we work together. Many of our most popular programs were developed from one co-op starting a program, then allowing others to build on it for their own member-owners. The list includes our online outage map, our use of Facebook to host conversations with you, and our participation in Partners For Power, helping electrify a village in Guatemala last fall. Another one of these good ideas is Operation Round Up, in which members can round up their monthly energy bills to the next dollar. This “spare change” is donated to a not-for profit foundation that in turn makes grants to families and organizations in need, right here in mid-Michigan. We call our foundation the Tri-County Electric People Fund. A few months ago, after 22 years of making grants, the People Fund topped the $2 million milestone. That includes 560 grants to families in our 13-county service area, plus 775 grants to organizations that help even more families. You can read more in the Annual Report that wraps this month’s issue of Michigan Country Lines. If you participate, you’ve helped keep families in their homes, provided clothes and snacks for schoolchildren, and kept local fire and ambulance departments up to date. You’ve stocked the shelves of area food banks, sent books to young readers, and repaired a senior center parking lot. It’s all been done with your spare change, averaging about 50 cents a month. Thank you for 22 years, and $2 million-plus, of support for our communities. We hope there are many, many more to come. We know there will be more good ideas to share.
Are you interested in serving on HomeWorks' Board of Directors? Learn more here. Our 2016 District Meeting dates and locations are set, with one new location: District 4 is moving from Vestaburg Schools to Montabella Jr-Sr High's cafeteria. Watch this space, Country Lines magazine, our Facebook page, or your mailbox for more information! The business meeting starts at 6 pm, following a light supper (sloppy joe sandwiches with chips). Here's the 2016 meeting schedule. (Click on the linked date to open up a blank registration card, complete with map to your meeting. Then right-click, Save As to save it to your computer.) Monday, May 16 – District 5, Fulton Elementary Gym ELECTION!      Gratiot and Saginaw counties, plus Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships in Clinton County, and Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships in Montcalm County Tuesday, May 17 – District 1, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Charlotte ELECTION!      Eaton, Ingham, and Jackson counties Wednesday, May 18 – District 6, Beal City High School (their small gym)      Clare and Isabella counties Thursday, May 19 – District 3, Eagle Park Hall     Clinton County, except Bingham, Duplain, and Greenbush townships Monday, May 23 – District 7, St. Michael’s Parish Center, Remus ELECTION!      Mecosta and Osceola counties Tuesday, May 24 – District 4, Montabella Jr-Sr High School Cafeteria, Blanchard NEW LOCATION!      Montcalm County, except Bloomer, Crystal, and Evergreen townships Wednesday, May 25 – District 2, St. Edward’s Church, Lake Odessa      Barry and Ionia counties
As an electric cooperative, HomeWorks Tri-County is guided by an elected board of directors who represent its members’ best interest when considering decisions and policies. A director’s decisions will impact issues, such as service rates, rights of way and work plans. This position holds great responsibility and requires men and women who understand their community’s needs and serve the cooperative members’ best interest.   That’s why it’s important for you, as our member-owners, to continue to elect strong directors to our board. Experienced and trained directors help guide us into the future, keeping yesterday’s lessons in mind. Fresh ideas and new perspectives help the co-op develop policies that could keep our community competitive. Our board is a democratically elected body nominated by members of the cooperative’s service territory and voted into position by any member who chooses to participate in the cooperative’s open election. At HomeWorks Tri-County, we hold elections every May in two or three of our seven districts. This year, for the first time in a long time, all three incumbent directors have decided not to run for re-election. We’re going to miss Phil Conklin, Cara Evans, and Dean Floria for their experience and the extras each brought to the board table. But it is an opportunity to get some of those new perspectives to help guide HomeWorks Tri-County into the future, whatever it brings. If you are a member in one of the three districts open this year, and would be interested in serving or can recommend someone, please contact the district officers who serve as the nominating committees. They have a big job this year and would love to hear from you. Any co-op member (in good standing) is welcome to run for an open position on the board. In May, read Country Lines to learn more about this year’s director candidates, and learn when and where your district meeting will be held. Then, come out to vote and show your support for the director candidate of your choice. Even if it’s not a board election year in your district, you will be asked to vote for district officers. Each district’s officers serve as that district’s nominating committee, looking for the leadership and willingness to serve that the co-op needs. You can see how important that job is! The leaders who serve our co-op, and your votes, make a big difference to how the cooperative is guided in its policies and operations. Make your vote count.

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