Salmon River Electric Cooperative is changing its office schedule and will close the office on Fridays, as employees move to a four-day work week.
The switch was revealed at the co-op’s annual member meeting held April 27. Manager Ken Dizes told the 175 members in attendance that the change follows patterns set by other entities. The Challis School District doesn’t conduct Friday classes, he pointed out, and many co-op employees have children. Not working on Fridays allows those parents to be home with their children on Fridays.
“Family is important to us,” he said.
Likewise, many of the vendors and other businesses the co-op works with are closed on Fridays, making it hard to conduct some business. Fridays are also the slowest day for walk-in and phone traffic at the office, Dizes said.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. The biggest change, he predicted, is for customers to get used to not being able to go to or call the office on Fridays.
Dizes also shared information about changes to the governing structure of the co-op’s propane subsidiary. David Herron is the new manager of Salmon River Propane while Dizes now has the title of president of the propane entity.
“We’ve grown so much, we need someone keeping a closer eye” on the propane entity, Dizes said. Herron reports to Dizes and Dizes reports to the board of directors. Prior to the change, the propane manager reported directly to the board. Dizes predicted the change “will help us achieve our goal of propelling the company to excellence.”
Last year was “another record sales year” for propane, Dizes said. Business is growing especially in the Mackay and Arco areas where the population is increasing and another propane supplier left. He reminded propane customers that supporting their local propane company helps keep electric rates down.
Dizes told members there are no plans to increase electric rates this year. Salmon River Electric’s rate agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration is in place through Sept. 30. Every two years a new agreement is negotiated with BPA. Rates charged co-op members were increased in 2022.
Some big capital improvement projects are planned this year, Dizes said, including a rebuild of the Squaw Creek substation.
“It’s 41 or 42 years old,” he said of that substation. It’s old and too small and with growth occurring in the Stanley area, it’s time for the upgrade, he said.
Two pieces of good news Dizes shared were there have been no safety accidents among Salmon River employees and the number of power outages is trending downward.
During the financial report, board Secretary/Treasurer Doug Parkinson pointed out that the value of the co-op’s inventory is up this year, reflecting more inventory than has been on hand some years, and higher prices paid for that inventory. More items are “on hand because COVID changed how long it takes to get things,” he said.
Dizes said it takes between two and four years to get a new transformer once it’s ordered and the big boom trucks don’t arrive for about five years after being ordered.
The cooperative retired $304,000 in capital credits last year and paid $219,000 of that back to members, Parkinson said. Since 2005, the co-op has paid members back a total of $6.4 million in capital credits.
In-person attendance was up at the 2023 meeting compared to the prior year, to 175 members and 18 proxy representatives. In 2022, there were 150 members in attendance and 27 proxy representatives. As of Dec. 31, 2022, the co-op had 2,193 members.
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