MOUNTAIN PARKS ELECTRIC, INC.
Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors
December 9th, 2021
Present: Jeff Hauck, Carl Trick, Richard Zieff, Mark Volt, Liz McIntyre, Kristen Taddonio, Justin Fosha, Mark Johnston, Michelle Kloss, Rob Taylor, Donn Finn, Jessica Rahn, Stacie Dellamano, Scott Simmons, and Levi Williamson, all via ZOOM.
Call to Order
President Jeff Hauck called the meeting to order at 8:01 a.m.
Determination of Quorum
A quorum was declared.
Patrick Brower, from Grand and Jackson Enterprise Initiatives, updated the board and thanked Mountain Parks for its continued support. It was a busy year for both initiatives, especially with worker shortages due to housing and competition from other short-staffed enterprises. Some businesses have had to leave, but others have opened. Several new businesses have opened in both Grand and Jackson counties. The businesses that have been most successful this year have tended to be family-run operations and sole proprietorships. New businesses and those in the planning stages represent a diverse set of industries. Mr. Brower asks MPEI to consider continuing to support the Enterprise Initiatives. Board members inquired about active clients in Grand and Jackson counties, funding, and board oversight for the Enterprise Initiative. MPEI will follow up regarding the grant request.
Mona Neeley joined the meeting to speak about the cost increases for Colorado Country Life magazine. She acknowledged the challenges of getting members interested in news from their electric utility and talked about the advantages of sending magazines to people to keep members informed and engaged. The board asked questions about digital options, readership, and advertising. They are investigating options to offer more digital versions of the magazine, cost controls, and increasing advertising revenue.
The minutes were revised regarding the safety report and Action Item G as recommended by attorney Williamson.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to approve November minutes as revised.
Attorney Summary Fees Report
Attorney Williamson provided a summary report by email prior to the board meeting and had no additional updates during the open session. Director Zieff asked clarification questions about billing and inquired as to whether we should spend more time at board meetings discussing attorney activities. Director Trick indicated that he did not receive the attorney report or other emails. MPEI will help Director Trick restore access to his email and obtain the report.
- Community Solar. Manager Johnston and Attorney Williamson have been negotiating contracts with ISI and are working to assure adequate performance guarantees, insurance, taxes and operations and maintenance. Manager Johnston had a call Tuesday with the President of ISI to go over these issues. They may cancel the contract unless guarantees can be offered.
- The Winter Park lot contract has been terminated. MPEI’s Real Estate agent has been contacted by a neighborhood group with the Town of Winter Park and Headwaters Trails Alliance interested in making an offer but no offer has been received to date. MPEI is working with an environmental engineer to assess how development restrictions, if any, may impact pricing.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a pre-hearing conference on November 22. The administrative law judge had parties make opening statements, in which Mountain Parks Electric participated. Parties reviewed schedule for trial. After negotiations, a schedule has been adopted with decisions on contract termination payment methodologies due in July of 2022. On December 3, Tri-State filed a motion for a protective order on confidential information. On December 7th it was adopted. Filing a non-disclosure agreement is required for access to certain information. Johnston participated in conversations reviewing one of the proposed contract termination payment methodologies from United Power. Even if Mountain Parks does not file testimony, MPEI would be able to ask questions of witnesses.
- Mountain Parks Electric has continued discussions with financial institutions regarding financial services (e.g. bank accounts, merchant card services like card processing, bill payment services, higher FDIC insurance, and investment vehicles for cash). Proposals have been reviewed, and both proposals would lower fees and increase interest income. MPEI has not made a decision yet on a vendor.
- Management has also reviewed proposals from two vendors detailing a possible buy-out from the Rural Utilities Service. Both proposals offer competitive rates and would save MPEI on interest payments and improve cash flows. A presentation for decision by the board is expected during the 1st quarter of 2022.
- Manager Johnston attended a managers meeting hosted by CREA. Federated insurance and an engineering company presented a wildfire mitigation plan template; it has been used in the states of Nevada and Oregon. The cost to use the template and advisory services would cost $2,500.00 per year and require a three-year commitment. Mountain Parks Electric is considering it. Kent Singer and Tim Coleman discussed the upcoming legislative session and CREA’s proposed bill to support micro grid development; they talked about bills expected to be submitted and will send a recap. NISC presented information on cyber threats and mitigation options. Delta Montrose Electric Association provided an overview of their recent cyberattack; management will provide more information in executive session. Mountain Parks Electric has robust backup systems to help protect its systems.
- Information on pumping stations was provided in response to director questions about metering and rates.
- Regarding Colorado Country Life, staff recommends sending electronic versions of the magazine to people who have opted into paperless communications. Out-of-state member postage is driving cost increases. New members will have the option of paper or electronic copies.
There were no accidents, incidents, near misses, or damage reported in November. The safety committee remains active with trainings for Mountain Park’s employees and contractors.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to accept the safety report.
Discussion/Action Item A: Vasquez Road Property Sale
As discussed in the manager’s report, the current contract has been terminated. Mountain Parks is evaluating options.
Discussion/Action Item B: A-5 Assets of the Cooperative
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to ratify action item B and make it public.
Discussion/Action Item C: A-7 Selection of Independent Auditor
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to ratify action item C and make it public.
Discussion/Action Item D: A-8 Corporate Credit Card
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to ratify action item D and make it public.
Discussion/Action Item E: Bylaw and Articles of Incorporation Changes
The resolution to sponsor amendments to the MPEI bylaws was presented. The resolution was revised to change “Article IIII” in the first paragraph to “Article III”.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to approve the resolution as revised.
The resolution to sponsor an amendment to the MPEI articles of incorporation was presented.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to approve the resolution as presented.
Scott Simmons presented the Engineering Report. MPEI asked a bidder on the Highway 125 project to correct their bid, resulting in a large increase in price. The project will be re-bid. The ADB fiber project is underway, with overhead fiber being installed by contractor ADB. Completion is expected in early 2022. Mountain Parks is in discussions with Conexon about Connexon extending fiber to members’ homes. No contract has been signed to date. Director McIntyre inquired about the potential for micro grids in remote locations. Manager Simmons explained options and constraints.
Manager Finn presented the Operations Report. Outage information was reported for November along with progress on MPEI’s wildfire mitigation plan. Director Zieff inquired about FEMA payment of $700,000. Money went to the state for MPEI’s fire expenses. MPEI is working to obtain payment for help with expenses. This was for 3 of the 10 projects MPEI is working on with them. Director McIntyre asked about retirement of lines. It will be done by January. Avian protection was also discussed. MPEI and its line patrol is increasing efforts to identify potential problem areas to reduce outages caused by birds. MPEI is appreciative of FEMA and state funding for fire recovery and hopes to utilize the state fund to assist with undergrounding more lines.
Manager Dellamano presented financials for the month and year to date. Dellamano informed the board that a final Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) letter is being sent to members on the ETS rate. Three notices have been sent. To retain their rate, these members will need to annually self-certify that their ETS units are still operational. This impacts about 400 members. To date, over half of these members have self-certified and about 38% have not. Customers that do not self-certify will be enrolled in the residential rate or can opt into the time-of-use rate. Dellamano read language included in the letters stating “. Once switched off this rate you will no longer be eligible for it again”. Dellamano will be taking the same capital credits course that Directors took on December 16th. Members are receiving a reduction in December bills due to MPEI’s larger than expected revenues and profit margins in 2021.
The IT Report was submitted. The recent ransomware attack on a different Colorado Cooperative will be discussed in executive session. Mountain Parks is taking proactive preventative measures to avoid such an attack.
Human Resources Report
Manager Rahn presented the Human Resources and Administration Report. No questions were asked.
Member Relations and Communications Report
Mountain Parks has been working to improve two-way communications with members, including recent coffee meet-ups with members in Fraser, Grand Lake, and Granby. Raffles and discounted coffee are offered to members. Reaction has been positive. Members are encouraged to attend to have the opportunity to win an electric snow blower. The member events are advertised on MPEI’s website, Facebook, and social media.
Bills for Payment
Director McIntyre visited a micro grid in New Hampshire. It was backed up by solar and batteries so that when the grid went down, power is retained. This technology is coming to more locations soon.
Cindy Chadwick, from USDA, and Mark Johnston communicated about community solar and the Rural Energy for America grant application, which USDA previously indicated might be able to fund $250,000. Mountain Parks will follow up.
Tri-State held a meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. Director Trick reported that Tri-State is moving to WAPA from Xcel balancing authority. The move will result in an estimated cost savings around $300k per year. Tri State discussed the solar industry supply chain issues, pricing, tax incentives, and implications for power purchase agreements that Tri-State has signed. If any fall through, Tri-State will not meet its emissions requirements. A 200 MW wind project, owned by NextEra, came online, adding to the Tri-State renewable portfolio. Director McIntyre was appointed to the rate committee, and the first meeting will be in February. Regional Transmission Organization planning is proceeding. San Isabel’s general manager has moved to Tri-State to to help Tri-State sell renewables and beneficial electrification options to members. Utilities will not be considered federal contractors under vaccine mandate so Tri-State probably won’t require all employees to be vaccinated. Tri State will vote in January about the possibility of a new partial requirements open season for 100 MW. There’s a co-op in New Mexico having issues with Native American tribes that have contracts with the co-op, and the tribes are looking to go to renewable energy. They might want around 20 megawatts. If the Tri-State board chooses to re-open it, Tri-State will honor the 200 MW that Poudre Valley, San Miguel, and others have pursued. Tri-State is considering spending $250 million to upgrade eastern Colorado transmission since they withdrew from the Xcel Colorado Pathway transmission project. This could bring more wind from eastern Colorado into the system. It could also connect Wyoming wind. The Tri-State board approved $10 million in patronage capital payments and the 2022 budget.
A joint board and managers meeting was held at CREA in the last month. CREA has found sponsors for the micro grid bill, which would allocate $5 million to DOLA. It would likely be a matching grant process. CREA is exploring broadband lobbying possibilities. A good speaker presented on identifying and responding to trends. There are a few general manager openings at Mountain View, Southeast, and San Isabel Electric. A summary report of the meeting has been sent to MPEI board members.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to go into executive session to discuss employee housing, Winter Park land, the cyber-attack in Colorado, and community solar.
Board members were in attendance as well as Attorney Williamson, General Manager Johnston, Manager Simmons, Manager Finn, and Manager Rahn.
MOTION: It was properly moved, seconded, and carried to come out of executive session at 12:55pm.