“What keeps you awake at night?” is a question I get from time to time. I always have to start off my answer with what does NOT keep me awake. The list of important things that doesn’t keep me awake is far longer than any list that does. Maybe I’m just a good sleeper?
Cherryland employees have worked hard over the years to reduce our outage times. We have put millions of dollars of member money into maintenance, line upgrades and new construction over the past 15 years. I can point to numerous examples of projects that have incrementally improved our outage times. But, like every utility, we are only as good as our last major storm.
What about the winter/spring storm Xanto in April? It brought with it high winds, heavy wet snow and treacherous driving conditions. It didn’t bring widespread outages to Cherryland’s service territory. We had 10 here, 20 there and one bunch of 46 members. All were very short in length and insignificant in cost. I checked the outage page often, but I slept well.
A couple months ago, I walked into CFO Mark Wilson’s office to make sure I was reading our monthly wholesale power bill correctly. It was the lowest per kilowatt hour price of my entire tenure at Cherryland. Mark assured me it was accurate.
Wolverine Power Cooperative has done a great job of holding down and actually lowering costs while improving the reliability of their transmission system, lowering our carbon footprint and maintaining a “not-all-eggs-in-one-basket” portfolio of supply sources. When I look at the long-range wholesale power supply that the Wolverine team has put together for the next decade, I can only smile while I doze off to dreamland.
Transparency? Yeah, I’m not losing any sleep here either. I will simply point to columns like this, the only electric co-op podcast in the nation, an informative cooperative Facebook page, an active blog with two-way dialogue and face-to-face interaction with members.
Yes, Cherryland gets knocked from time to time because we don’t let members sit in our boardroom for an entire meeting. Each time the knock has come from an individual or organization with a singular issue they are trying to force on the entire membership. The board, the management team and I have never rolled over on single-minded issues. We have 35,000 members from all walks of life, political views and income levels to care for and we take the job seriously.
These single-issue individuals always forget that we actually do have cooperative members in every board meeting from the beginning to the end. They are your duly-elected board of directors. It is how our system has worked and worked well for almost 80 years.
By now, you have probably gotten the point that I sleep well. I have a membership, a board and a group of employees that I feel like I know and that I trust. Isn’t trust the only thing that keeps us up at night no matter what the specific issue is? If I trust myself and those around me every day, I should always be able to sleep well. I do. Now, if I could only get better at taking naps!