Happy New Year
Happy New Year! I hope that you had a safe and enjoyable holiday season. With 2019 behind us, I want to take the opportunity to highlight a few accomplishments from the past year and address an exciting change planned for 2020.
Those in the greater Missoula area know that we are in a time of significant growth. For MEC, this has resulted in more new accounts for homes and businesses than we have seen in quite some time. Our system improvement projects also upgraded many miles of line across MEC territory. Two significant projects converted more than six miles of overhead to underground line, west of Lolo, along Highway 12 and in the Swan Valley. These upgrades will improve service to our members in Idaho and the northern Swan Valley.
Maintaining a safe and reliable electric system is a never-ending task, and with more than 2,000 miles of line, there is never a shortage of work to be done. Over the past few years, I have highlighted the efforts of the System Maintenance and Reliability Program (SMART) as a tool to reduce the nuisance blinks and outages our members experience. Beginning in 2018, the focus of the SMART program was expanded to include a more aggressive approach to vegetation management, with a goal to inspect and trim 100% of our overhead rights-of-way in a three-year period. This program will improve system reliability, while at the same time reducing the risk of powerline-sparked wildfire. During the past year, MEC dispatched up to five tree trimming crews to tackle this project, focusing on the Clinton and Seeley Lake areas. We appreciate the cooperation of our members on this project and will continue work on this program in the coming year.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a person’s time is a precious commodity. I want to thank everyone that took the time to attend our Member Appreciation Events held in October. Thank you to our partners at CHS Mountain West Cooperative and Energy Partners for helping us host these events. Our members are the reason we exist and it was rewarding to see new faces in the crowd and to communicate the status of the cooperatives you collectively own. I hope your takeaways were that MEC is in a solid position for 2020, that you have a skilled and dedicated team working hard for you every day and that we have significant plans for the future.
With the new year comes a new look! The 2020 “vision team” of employees at MEC has been working hard to modernize the logo. I am pleased and excited about the results. In the article on our website titled, “A New Look for a New Decade,” we introduce the new look, and detail the meaning behind the design.
As we usher in a new year and a new decade, rest assured that MEC’s employees, management and Board of Trustees are all committed to meeting the service needs of our members, delivering our service at reasonable rates and ensuring the safe and reliable operation of our distribution system for this generation and the next.