(Read the remarks from the annual meeting by Sonja Cox, SMECO’s President and CEO.)
SMECO held its 83rd Annual Meeting on August 26, 2021, at the Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall in Mechanicsville, Md. The Board of Directors election was conducted online and by mail prior to the meeting.
The following SMECO members were elected to serve on SMECO’s Board for three years: Susan Hance-Wells of Calvert County; Kenneth W. Cross and Kenneth L. Dyson of Charles County; and W. Rayner Blair III and William R. Cullins III of St. Mary’s County. Two bylaw amendments were also included on this year’s ballot, and they passed.
More than 9,200 members voted in the SMECO election and results were announced at the meeting. This is the fifth year SMECO’s election was conducted by mail, and, for the third time, members could also vote electronically by casting their ballots online. Ballots were mailed to members on July 19. The deadline for submitting ballots by mail or electronically was August 19. Seventy-five percent of the ballots were returned by mail and 25 percent were cast online. Members who returned their ballots or voted online were eligible to win one of 30 electric bill credits of $50 each.
Scott White, Chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, chaired the meeting and welcomed SMECO members to the annual meeting held in Mechanicsville.
Sonja M. Cox, SMECO’s president and CEO since March 2020, recapped the cooperative’s accomplishments of the past year. Cox said that SMECO’s margins for 2020 totaled more than $28 million, with the majority allocated to members’ capital credit accounts. “Given the favorable financial year, your Board of Directors approved a Capital Credit general refund of approximately $4.2 million,” she said. Eligible active members received a credit on their bills and checks were issued to eligible former members. The refunds were issued in July. “We are happy to issue capital credit refunds to our members when financial obligations have been met. Passing savings on to members is a basic co-op principle.”
Before the cooperative refunds Capital Credits, margins are used to invest in new construction and infrastructure improvements. “Despite the pandemic, we were able to make significant upgrades during the past year to increase the reliability of our electric system. SMECO has replaced substation transformers at the Lexington Park and St. Charles substations, and work continued on the new Mt. Victoria substation,” Cox explained. “SMECO also completed the construction of its new office building in Leonardtown. The facility will house a back-up operations center, a back-up customer care center, and a redundant, highly available data center to enhance business continuity.”
Cox added, “Putting our members first is what drives us. Not only is our goal to provide safe, reliable, low-cost power to our members, we are also looking at new and innovative solutions to meet our customers’ needs. We want to transform the member experience and grow the number of products and services that we offer.”