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New Annual Member Festival a Huge Success!

Hiester and Osterman Win Seats in OPALCO 2024 Board Election

On Thursday April 25, at the OPALCO Business Annual Meeting, Rick Fant of the OPALCO Election and Governance Committee announced the results of the 2024 Board Election. In District 2 (Orcas et al), Wendy Hiester ran unopposed and was elected with 1,655 votes.   In District 3 (Lopez et al), Tom Osterman ran unopposed and was elected with 1,652 votes. A total of 1826 ballots were cast, which equates to ~16% of the membership.

Fant encouraged OPALCO members to step up and serve on the volunteer Elections and Governance Committee (EGC). The EGC is responsible for cultivating qualified candidates for each board election. There are currently open positions on the EGC in every district. The time commitment is reasonable: committee members work year-round on a casual basis to identify potential candidates; meetings are concentrated November through January during the election season. OPALCO is required by the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) to hold an annual meeting each year.  During the meeting, OPALCO Board President Vince Dauciunas, thanked Jeffrey Struthers for 6 years of dedicated and thoughtful service on the OPALCO board. Twenty-six members participated in the Annual Business Meeting.

The next day the Annual Member Festival was held at the Eastsound office parking lot. The festival was a huge success with over 300 Co-op members in attendance! The parking lot was transformed into a family friendly educational activity center. The whole OPALCO team was on hand to welcome attendees, give out SWAG, and help keep the event flowing.

bucket truck rideParticipants got the chance to hang out with the linecrew by going up in the bucket truck, getting a lesson in electrical safety, or trying out a hotstick – which is a tool a lineworker uses to work on energized equipment so they keep their distance and stay safe. Members could also check out the inner workings of a transformer with our engineering team or learn about how to save money and electricity with OPALCO’s on-bill financing program, Switch It Up. The Board and Leadership team were in attendance to answer questions and take comments.

There were seven car dealers from the mainland who brought their latest electric vehicles including an all electric boat from Pure Watercraft, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Porsche Taycan, Nissan Aria, Ford Mustang Mach E, Volkwagen ID.4 ProS, and Kia EV9. There were also electric bikes and electric household tools to try out.

Tcotton candyhere was plenty for the kids to do during the festival including snacking on hot dogs, hamburgers, and cotton candy, tossing an earthball, playing cornhole, and jumping in the giant bouncy house. Parents could swing by the educational booths to get tips on maximizing energy savings in their house, learn about the electric vehicle programs, and sign up for updates on the upcoming Community Solar project. One co-op parent said, “That was so much more fun than we anticipated. We’re already excited for next year!”

OPALCO is grateful to all the community partners who came to the event and shared information including Wildlife Cycles, Orcas Island Saw & Rental, Orcas Radio, Orcas Island Historical Museums, Island Rides, Clear Result, West Mechanical, Sustainable Connections, Comfort Ready Home, and Orbis World Globes.

Thanks to donations from OPALCO’s generous vendors and partners, there was a raffle for members who attended the event and members who voted in our annual election.  Prizes included electric string trimmers, cordless vacuums, electric lawn tools, wet/dry vacuums, insulated coolers, and more. Sponsors included: Cooperative Response Center, MSF Data Services, NWPPA, Orcas Construction Company, PNGC, Olympic Electric, Westsound Utility Construction, Kemp West, Western Solar, West Mechanical, and Streamside Renewables.

Members who missed the meeting can read the 2023 Annual Report on the OPALCO website and stay tuned for our June Ruralite which will highlight the event. The Annual Member Festival will rotate between the islands – next year it will be on San Juan Island!

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