SMECO News Briefs

SMECO Wins Two AWE Awards

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) was presented with two awards, the Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval and the Health and Wellness Seal of Approval, from the Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) at a recent ceremony.

All award recipients undergo a rigorous assessment process led by an independent review panel of business professionals and graduate students in the fields of business, industrial and organizational psychology, human resources, environmental science, and public health.

For the Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval, applicants are evaluated on the level and quality of their corporate culture and management practices, family and employee friendly policies and programs, health and wellness initiatives, corporate, social, and civic responsibility, diversity and inclusion practices, and safety and security. In addition to the materials SMECO submitted for review, AWE conducted a survey of 41 randomly selected SMECO employees.

The Health and Wellness Award recognizes employers who provide innovative programs for employees. Some of the programs SMECO makes available to its employees and encourages them to participate in are health risk assessments, employee health fairs, on-site fitness facilities, healthy food options, access to nurses, coaches, and trainers, organized exercise programs, educational sessions promoting healthy lifestyles, and a bi-monthly wellness news magazine.

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by Montgomery County and Discovery Communications. Over the past 15 years AWE has been dedicated to empowering employers to build excellence in the workplace as a means of supporting the quality of life for employees, their families, and the community at-large.

Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO, said, "We are proud to receive recognition for the effort we put into making SMECO an organization where people want to work and where employees know they are valued. Our employees also know that our responsibilities extend beyond the corporation and that we are dedicated to improving the quality of life in our community. The Alliance for Workplace Excellence provides us with a measurement tool to assess our effectiveness, and we appreciate their commitment to increasing the number of excellent workplaces within the business community."

SMECO 75 Bike Ride Benefits Wounded Warrior Project

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) employees hosted their annual bike ride on June 7. Three bike routes of 29, 47, and 75 miles started at the co-op's headquarters in Hughesville and went as far as Colton's Point in St. Mary's County. Profits from the bike ride will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Last year, SMECO employees raised $35,760 through the bike ride held in June and a charity golf tournament held in September. The events are supported by a group of volunteers, vendors, and the SMECO executive team. The Co-op selects a different organization each year to benefit from the fundraising events. Proceeds from the 2014 bike ride total nearly $25,000.

"I heard one comment repeatedly from the participants," said Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO. "They said that what makes this event better than all the others are SMECO's volunteer employees, who make all difference in the world! They are helpful, friendly and welcoming!"

Natalie Brown, SMECO's community relations specialist, added, "We had an awesome day! The weather was great and we welcomed more than 470 cyclists who participated, making the 2014 event the largest one yet. Rest stop captains were ready for the crowds with plenty of water and snacks on hand, all while having a bit of fun with this year's 80's theme. Thanks to the amazing team effort and to the support that our volunteers provided, cyclists passed on many compliments about the ride."

Brown added, "We get a lot of support from local organizations like the Oxon Hill Bike Club, but we are especially grateful to business partners who participate by donating resources to help make the SMECO 75 Bike Ride a successful fundraiser. Major contributors include Adams, Jenkins and Cheatham, Alexander Chiropractic Center, CGI, Cigna, Comverge, ICF International, Infor, IP Data Systems, NextEra Energy, Opower, Prudential, Siemens, The Meltzer Group, and Willis, and we thank them for their contributions."

SMECO Files to Reduce Customer Rates

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to reduce its residential Standard Offer Service (SOS) energy charges. In addition, SMECO has proposed a change as to how May and October are designated as summer rate and winter rate months.

SMECO is filing to reduce the residential SOS energy charge for summer from 8.83 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 8.61 cents per kWh, a reduction of 2.5 percent. Residential energy charges for winter will decrease from 9.62 cents per kWh to 9.25 cents per kWh, a reduction of 3.9 percent. The filing was submitted May 30, and, if approved by the PSC, the reduced charge will appear on customer-members' August 2014 bills.

The total SOS rate in August will be the combination of the new reduced energy charge and the PCA, which changes monthly. For a residential bill of 1,300 kWh, the average monthly base SOS rate will be $4.00 less. SMECO's SOS rate covers the cost of electric supply only. Costs incurred for maintaining the electric system are covered by distribution service charges and do not affect the SOS rate.

For its summer and winter rates, SMECO has traditionally classified June through October as summer months and November through May as winter months. Because of shifts in customer energy use patterns, SMECO is proposing to change the summer rate months to May through September and winter rate months to October through April.

SMECO's rate adjustment is the result of decreased capacity costs. All utilities and energy suppliers in the mid-Atlantic area are required to pay capacity costs; these costs fund existing generating plants, as well as the expansion of plants and transmission facilities, that are needed to meet customers' demand for electricity. Capacity costs will decrease by more than $13 million over the 12-month period that begins in August.

"We are pleased to pass along savings of nearly $50 a year to our customer-members," said Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO. He added, "The co-op does not make a profit on energy charges. We work to keep our rates as low as possible by using a portfolio approach to purchasing power, with contracts for base load and peak load and long-term and short-term contracts. This method of purchasing power produces stable energy rates and helps save money for customer-members overall."

SMECO Board Candidates Nominated

The 2014 Nominating Committee for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) met on Saturday, May 17, 2014, and chose candidates for the five available seats up for election on SMECO's Board of Directors.

The list of nominations follows:

Calvert County (one seat available): Nancy W. Zinn

Charles County (one seat available): Victor B. Allen, Gregory V. Billups, Murray D. Levy

Prince George's County (one seat available): Daniel W. Dyer

St. Mary's County (two seats available): J. Douglas Frederick, Patricia M. Robrecht, Joseph V. Stone, Jr., George M. Thompson

In addition to nominations made by the Nominating Committee, any 15 or more SMECO members acting together may make other nominations by petition. SMECO customer-members running by petition should also complete and submit a Board of Directors Candidate Application. To obtain a candidate application and petition, contact Lisa Oliver at 301-274-4489 or Completed candidate applications and petitions must be submitted or mailed to SMECO, Attention: Joseph Densford, Board Attorney, 15045 Burnt Store Road, P.O. Box 1937, Hughesville, Maryland 20637 by Friday, July 11, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. Nominations will be posted in each SMECO office and available online.

SMECO customer-members will elect five directors to serve three-year terms by voting for one Board seat in Calvert County, one seat in Charles County, one in Prince George's, and two seats in St. Mary's County.

Members may vote in person at SMECO's 2014 Annual Members' Meeting on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. The venue provides ample parking, comfortable seating, and accessibility.

Absentee mail-in ballots will also be available to members who wish to vote but cannot attend the meeting. Requests for absentee mail-in ballots must be received between July 1 and August 29, 2014. To request an absentee mail-in ballot, call 1-888-440-3311, extension 4722, or complete an online form on the Co-op's website at Customer-members may also mail a request for an absentee mail-in ballot to SMECO Annual Meeting, P.O. Box 670, Hughesville, MD 20637.

SMECO will mail member identification cards with information about the meeting to customer-members in late July or early August.

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