3 members re-elected to Valley Rural Electric board

MOUNT UNION – More than 500 people attended Valley Rural Electric Cooperative’s 75th anniversary annual meeting Friday at Mount Union Area High School.

Board Chairman James R. Stauffer, of McVeytown, presided over the meeting. Stauffer asked members to think about the co-op’s beginnings and consider how the co-op’s founders have impacted the lives of members today.

“History is often made by everyday people who do something extraordinary. That’s the story of Valley Rural Electric,” Stauffer said. “A generation ago some ordinary farmers and other rural residents – parents and grandparents to some of us here tonight – banded together to do something truly exceptional: bring electric service to their homes and farms located in some of the area’s most out-of-the-way places.”

Stauffer said Valley energized its first lines Nov. 27, 1939.

The 284 voting members in attendance re-elected three directors to represent the utility’s nearly 22,000 consumers.

Chosen to serve on the co-op’s board of directors for a three-year term were:

District 1 Mervin G. Brumbaugh, of Williamsburg;

District 3 Kevin R. States, of Hesston; and

District 5 Robert Holmes, of Huntingdon.

Valley President and CEO Rich Bauer spoke about how technological innovations are impacting the co-op’s operating efficiencies and service reliability and the role members play as owners of the cooperative. He encouraged members to consider participating in the co-op’s demand response program, which lessens the amount of electricity members use at times of peak demand when the price of wholesale power is the greatest. Demand response units work by temporarily disconnecting power to water heaters, to shed load while the insulated appliance maintains water temperature.

“We’re trying to get as many people on this program as possible,” Bauer said. “Your tank still keeps the water hot. You should never know that the unit is on your water heater.”

Bauer also spoke about the need for the co-op to maintain an aggressive tree trimming program to lessen the size and frequency of storm-caused outages. Bauer said in the past year, the co-op trimmed rights-of-way totaling 350 miles at a cost of $1.7 million.

Guest speaker and former Penn State cornerback Adam Taliaferro told the audience he appreciates the co-op’s story of overcoming adversity. Taliaferro was paralyzed while making a tackle for Penn State in a game against Ohio State in 2000. Given small hope for recovery, he miraculously walked out of a Philadelphia treatment center three months later.

Other guests in attendance included state Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Altoona), state Reps. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) and Jerry Stern (R-Martinsburg), Huntingdon County Commissioners Dean Fluke and Jeff Thomas, and Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association Public Affairs/Member Services Specialist Stephanie Okuniewski.

Stauffer presented Stern with a plaque in recognition of his 22 years of service in the general assembly.

Caitlyn Edgell and Cheyanne Brumbaugh, two students who participated in the 2013 Youth Tour to Washington, talked about their experiences on the trip. Each year the cooperative sponsors up to 18 students on the week-long trip, which enables students to meet lawmakers and learn about the cooperative business model.

Valley Rural Electric is a member-owned cooperative providing electric service in Bedford, Blair, Centre, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Mifflin counties.