2022 Audit Report
2022 Financial Report
2022 Operation Round Up Grants
2023 Polk-Burnett Scholarships
2023 Polk-Burnett At-A-Glance
2023 Annual Meeting & Member Appreciation Day Prize Drawing Winners
2023 85th Annual Meeting Recording (Facebook Live)
Printed reports are also available upon request at co-op offices in Centuria and Siren.
Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative celebrated its 85th Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Day Friday, June 9, with 630 members and guests at its office in Centuria. The meeting was also live streamed on the co-op Facebook page and the We Are Network.
Member Appreciation Day
Co-op members and guests enjoyed lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, chips, root beer floats and anniversary cupcakes served by employees.
All members received an 85th anniversary mason jar mug, and the first 150 children received a $5 DQ card and co-op coloring book. Three lucky members won electric battery-powered yard tools and 10 members won $50 electric bill credits.
Guests saw the co-op’s new Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck, along with other EVs on display, and learned about two local solar developments: SunTuria is the area’s first utility-scale solar in Centuria, and the new Georgetown array is scheduled to open late fall. Kids enjoyed bucket truck rides with lineworkers, tried on safety gear and took pictures with Polk-Burnett’s Solar Sam mascot.
“We thank all who attended. The open house is always a great time to have fun, meet co-op directors and employees, and learn about the benefits of co-op membership,” said General Manager Steve Stroshane.
85th Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting followed Member Appreciation activities, beginning at 1:30 p.m. All members who stayed for the meeting received a commemorative 85th anniversary coaster and were entered in a special attendance prize drawing for 10 additional $50 electric bill credits.
Polk-Burnett Board President Ed Gullickson opened the meeting with a salute to Veterans and board introductions. Gullickson stated that one of the greatest advantages of co-op membership is returning Capital Credits to members. In the spring of 2022, Polk-Burnett returned a special Capital Credit distribution of $1 million to members, followed by a regular Capital Credit distribution of $2.5 million in fall 2022.
Gullickson also announced that construction is underway on the new Georgetown Solar development. “The 2MW array will power about 375 homes, and brings both operational and financial benefits by generating some of our own power locally,” said Gullickson. “It will be built, owned and operated by OneEnergy Renewables, and we will purchase the power at a fixed rate for 25 years. The timing was coordinated with other co-op solar projects across Wisconsin to get a better price and return on investment for members.”
Gullickson also provided the co-op’s commitment to community report, stating, “We work to improve our local quality of life not only with reliable power, but also with support for our local community.”
In 2022, Polk-Burnett’s Operation Round Up donated $65,180 to 60 local nonprofits. Since the program begin in 1998, more than $1 million has been awarded through Operation Round Up thanks to the generosity of members who round up their electric bill, said Gullickson.
Polk-Burnett’s scholarship program also achieved a milestone, awarding larger scholarships to more students than ever before in honor of the co-op’s 85th anniversary. The board approved $145,500 in scholarships to 97 students in the Class of 2023. Gullickson assured those in attendance that scholarships do not affect electricity rates; rather, they are funded with unclaimed Capital Credits that otherwise would be forfeited to the state.
General Manager Steve Stroshane reported on cooperative performance from the past year. “As we work to execute our strategic vision, we focus on reliability, member service and cost controls,” he said.
Stroshane reported that Polk-Burnett delivers power to 21,422 electric services and has 3,493 miles of power line, 1,894 are underground and 1,599 are overhead. The co-op employs 62 people at offices in Centuria and Siren; 52 are electric employees and 10 are propane employees. Polk-Burnett invested $6.3 million in 2022 and another $6.3 million in 2023 to maintain and upgrade the electric system.
Stroshane thanked members for their patience and support during a December 2022 storm, when heavy, wet snow resulted in power outages caused by downed trees and branches on power lines.
“It was the first time in my 26-year career that I was concerned about member homes freezing up, but thankfully, power was restored safely to all. The money we invest on your behalf to make improvements, and buy vehicles and tools allows us to have a reliable and resilient electric system. Polk-Burnett is in the top 25% of all co-ops nationwide for reliability, and we’re always working to improve reliability, restore power faster and communicate better.”
Stroshane reported that Polk-Burnett members gave the co-op a score of 85 out of 100 on 2022 American Customer Satisfaction Index. “We’re proud of the level of service and satisfaction we provide.”
The annual meeting also included a 2022 financial report by Heather Gerber, Polk-Burnett’s finance and accounting manager. She reported that the co-op has $113 million in assets, with consolidated operating revenue of $43 million. Revenue for electric operations was $35.4 million, with 59% ($20.8 million) going to purchase wholesale power from Dairyland Power Cooperative. “The remaining 41 cents is what we have to work with to keep your lights on,” said Gerber.
Polk-Burnett does not own power plants; rather the local cooperative buys power from Dairyland Power, a La Crosse-based generation and transmission cooperative.
Gerber stated that increased material prices have been a challenge for the co-op with underground cable up 40% in 2022 and another 20% for 2023, overhead line also up 40% and transformers up 85%!
“For the past 12 years, we’ve been able to control costs and avoid a rate increase; however, inflation forced us to increase rates in March 2023,” said Gerber. “On the plus side, prices in the power market have been lower than expected and we’ve passed those savings back to members with power cost adjustments.”
Keynote address from Dairyland Power Cooperative
The meeting’s keynote address was presented by Jeremy Browning, VP, Generation, Dairyland Power Cooperative, on the state of the power market. Browning shared an overview of the Dairyland system which serves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, and its priority to ensure a safe, reliable and affordable flow of power. His presentation included Dairyland’s commitment to sustainability and a diverse generation portfolio. He said Dairyland is researching small modular nuclear reactors and energy storage technology, and that natural gas is also essential for the transition to renewables.
Currently, Dairyland’s generation mix is 39% natural gas, 37% coal, 16% wind and solar, 6% other renewables and 2% other energy. It has a carbon reduction goal of 50% by 2030. “Innovation will drive the transition and traditional resources will keep the lights on. We must use a balanced, measured approach to carbon reduction,” Browning said.
Director election returns three incumbents to board
The meeting concluded with a Q&A forum and results of the 2023 board election in districts 1, 2 and 3. John Behling of Weld Riley law firm and system counsel for Polk-Burnett, reported that three incumbent directors were re-elected. Cindy Thorman of Osceola ran unopposed in District 1 and received 292 votes. Mike Morris of Luck ran unopposed in District 2 and received 304 votes. Ed Gullickson of Amery ran unopposed in District 3 and received 260 votes. Voter participation was 12.6%, with 723 paper ballots and 173 online ballots received. Directors are elected for three-year terms.
The election was conducted by independent election contractor Survey & Ballot Systems, with all members in districts 1, 2 and 3 receiving a ballot and voting instructions this spring.
Polk-Burnett is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative that provides reliable electricity with efficiency and extraordinary service to more 21,000 homes, farms and businesses. Celebrating 85 years: 1938 - 2023.
Pictured below: Kids had a chance to experience a day in the life of a co-op lineworker, trying on safety gear and riding in a bucket truck high above the event at Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative in Centuria.
Above L-R: Mike Morris, vice president, Polk-Burnett board; Jeremy Browning, VP, Generation, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Solar Sam; Ed Gullickson, president, Polk-Burnett board; and Steve Stroshane, Polk-Burnett general manager.
Member Appreciation Drawing
$50 Electric Bill Credit
- Colleen Draxler, Frederic
- Roger Hillman, Siren
- Marigen Kastelle, Luck
- Larry Bresina, Maplewood, MN
- Rick Robl, Balsam Lake
- Terry Rader, Osceola
- Bert Green, Amery
- John Sanford, Centuria,
- James Rustad, St. Paul, MN
- David Rosenow, Osceola
Electric, Battery-Powered Yard Tools
Blower, Stephen Eklund, Osceola
Trimmer, Steven Williamson, Luck
Chainsaw, James Berg, Osceola
Annual Meeting Drawing, $50 Electric Bill Credit
- Susan Jahnke, Burnsville, MN
- Pat LaForte, Osceola
- Lonnie Lovick, Balsam Lake
- Mark Klinkner, Danbury
- Susan Hawkinson, Amery
- Steve Arduser, Balsam Lake
- Kristoffer Zimmerman, Amery
- Elodie Moore, Centuria
- Ted Goll, Centuria
- Karyl Davis, St. Croix Falls
Congratulations and thank you all for attending!