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Highline Electric reaches two new firsts in 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Two new firsts for Highline Electric Association in 2010 were touted at the HEA annual meeting Thursday, March 24 at the Phillips County Event Center in Holyoke.

General manager Mark Farnsworth cited these two achievements: members were sold over 500 million kilowatt-hours and had revenue of over $50 million.

In further summary of the year, Farnsworth noted the anticipated continued growth with another pipeline compression load being discussed. He added water issues are still part of HEA’s everyday discussion, but irrigation remains extremely important to communities. “Highline will continue to be financially strong,” he affirmed.

HEA sold nearly 548 million kilowatt-hours to members in 2010, nearly a 92.1 million kilowatt-hour increase over the previous year. This was highlighted in the financial report, given at last week’s meeting by Dennis Herman, manager of member and corporate services.

Of the 92.1 million kilowatt-hour increase in sales, 35 million kilowatt-hours were due to the increase in irrigation sales, said Herman. The balance of the increase is attributable to the fact Plainview gas compression site ran for the entire year in 2010 after being commissioned in 2009.

Operating revenues for 2010 at nearly $51 million represented an increase of $7.25 million over 2009. The increase resulted from a two percent rate increase in 2010 and higher kwh sales.

Operating margins in 2010 were $654,420, said Herman. This margin was sufficient for HEA to meet all mortgage requirements and to stay in good standing with lenders.

Highline posted other non-operating margins from cooperatives HEA is a member of. This included $3.31 million generated by memberships in Tri-State, Western United and CFC and $88,575 in interest income.

The bottom-line margin of $4,053,026 is allocated to HEA members as capital credits.

In 2010, the HEA board of directors approved a capital credit refund that included the general retirement of $1,784,368 and retired estates totaling $176,689 for a total of $1,961,057 retired to members.

Highline ended 2010 with cash and investments of $3.4 million. Herman noted HEA continues to maintain a strong balance sheet, ending with an equity level of 59.5 percent.

This past year, Herman said, HEA added 8.1 miles of new overhead and underground lines and installed 88 new services.

He concluded the 2010 financial info with an expense report. Herman noted the cost of power was 79 percent of Highline’s total expenses, while 13 percent was represented by cost to maintain the plant and make sure electricity was available, and eight percent was for depreciation and interest.


HEA brings value to its members

Manager Farnsworth focused on what Highline is doing to bring value to its members.

In looking at ways to lower expenses, Farnsworth said they have done fuel contracts, bid services, driven vehicles longer, changed policies, implemented load control and have in general tightened the ship.

Highline refinanced $5.8 million of five percent money with an interest savings of $61,150.

Energy efficiency options have been offered to members for a number of years to help lower costs. One such option is irrigation load control. Members who participated in 2010 saved over $918,000, said Farnsworth.

Since 2005, all equipment and labor has been paid for, as well as $418,000 returned to Highline’s bottom line.

HEA was the first distribution co-op in Colorado to develop a renewable energy project of any size. Trailblazer, HEA’s recovered energy generation project, is a waste heat project in which the co-op partnered with Kinder Morgan and Ormat Technologies to develop.

In only 10 months of 2009, the project saved Highline $527,000 in power costs; and in 2010, HEA had $688,000 in savings.

Farnsworth talked about two small-scale renewable energy projects. Equipment will be installed within the next two months. This includes a 2kw wind machine and a 1.4 kw solar array for the office.

Farnsworth said he believes renewable energy will continue to grow as part of HEA’s energy options. “Our desire is to explore options that make sense and are affordable and achievable for both Highline and you,” he told the members.

HEA partners with Y-W Electric Association in several areas to share costs, noted Farnsworth.

He also cited the partnerships with Colorado Rural Electric Association, Nebraska Rural Electric Association and Tri-State G&T to monitor impacts on electric bills from legislation.

Farnsworth encouraged members’ communication with legislators. He specifically asked them to tell Congress they need to step up to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act as a tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Farnsworth closed his report with a demonstration of Highline’s redesigned web site and how members can benefit from its use.


McInnes reports from Tri-State

Mike McInnes, senior vice-president/production at Tri-State G&T, gave an in-depth report of what’s happening at Tri-State.

HEA board president Leo Brekel, who represents Highline on the Tri-State board, also summarized the Tri-State year in a written report for the members.

Tri-State finished 2010 with good financial results, and the generating plants performed well. The Tri-State board approved a 2011 budget to keep the existing wholesale rate in place.

At the end of 2010, Brekel and McInnes reported, Tri-State began purchasing the output of two renewable generation facilities.

The Kit Carson wind project, located near Burlington, is a 51-megawatt wind farm. There is also a 30-megawatt solar facility in northern New Mexico.

Tri-State will watch closely the number of new and increasing regulations that will affect the industry.


Two directors elected; Thompson, Fender recognized for service

Incumbents Michael Bournia and Mark Stromberger were elected to three-year terms on the Highline board from district one.

There were no candidates from district two. Any member from Phillips or Yuma County who is interested in the open position can send a letter of interest to Highline by Tuesday, April 19. Ron Thompson chose not to seek re-election from district two.

Thompson was recognized for his 15 years of service on the board of directors. He commended the management and staff at HEA and noted in his 15 years on the board, assets grew from around $35 million to $94 million.

It was also noted Jim Fender resigned his board position in district three at the end of January. Applications from interested members in Sedgwick and Deuel counties had until March 15 to submit letters of interest to serve on the board. A replacement will be selected soon.

Fender served almost eight years on the board and was recognized for his service.


Youth reports presented

Youth reports from the 2010 Washington Youth Tour and Leadership Camp near Steamboat Springs were given at last week’s annual meeting.

Tessa Brammer of Haxtun told about her experience in Washington, D.C. Alexis Fehringer of Peetz and Kelsey Garretson of Haxtun reported on their experience at Youth Camp in Steamboat.


Scholarships awarded

2011 scholarship winners were announced during the HEA annual meeting.

Earning the $1,000 Basin Electric member cooperative consumer scholarship is Garrett Schumacher of Sterling, with Mallory Bennett of Holyoke as alternate.

Winners of $1,000 HEA scholarships to four-year colleges are Ella Stewart and Mallory Bennett of Holyoke, Karlie Gandee and Julie Hernandez of Caliche, Danielle Lenz of Wray and Taylor Lauer of Sterling. Alternates are Briar Bergner of Holyoke and Taylor Grauberger of Sterling.

$1,000 HEA scholarship winners to two-year or technical schools are Julia Cucarola of Sterling, Tessa Brammer of Haxtun, Lena Monheiser of Fleming and Alexis Fehringer of Peetz. Alternate is Kaylee Groshans of Holyoke.

Winners of $500 Tri-State G&T/HEA scholarships are Kaylee Groshans and Briar Bergner of Holyoke. Alternates are Dakota Schuppe of Caliche and Sarah Heermann of Holyoke.