By Tom Sobeck, CEO
As I begin to put my thoughts together for this update, I always look back on last year’s letter as a starting point. The title for my Nov./Dec. 2019 article was “Our commitment to our communities continues.” That statement is as fitting today as it was then, but as I read the article, the remarkable progress we have made on that commitment over the past 12 months came into clearer focus.
Construction on our new PIE&G headquarters facility is in full swing, and site development will continue through the first half of 2021. We are hoping to begin moving in during July or August. We are also moving forward on the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, having just completed vendor selection for that effort. Very soon, you should begin seeing progress as we install the communications towers, and we expect deployment of the new meters to begin in early 2021.
We remain very excited about the benefits both projects will afford our PIE&G membership. The new building and AMI projects are expected to add efficiencies to our operations that will serve to improve both reliability and power quality, as well as help to hold down costs in the long run.
Three other items that typically occur this time of year include sharing our Communities First Fund Annual Report (which seems fitting as we move toward the holiday season,) the cooperative’s issuance of capital credit checks, and the PIE&G Annual Membership Meeting.
In the 2019 Communities First Fund Annual Report, you can review the philanthropic work we are accomplishing together for our communities. As a reminder, you can support this effort by enrolling to round up the change on your utility bill to the next whole dollar. The impact of that small donation on local organizations that benefit is vital to their continued success. I also want to thank the Communities First Fund Board of Directors for its time and efforts as well. Each director does great work, and it is all voluntary.
Last month, you may have received a capital credit check. Your PIE&G Board of Directors authorized the retirement of approximately $1.34 million, reinforcing our cooperative business model for the 10th consecutive year.
Lastly, we just concluded our first-ever, virtual Annual Meeting. As I write this note to you several weeks before the actual meeting, I hope it turned out well. Trust me, conducting this important meeting virtually was not the format we had planned or how we wanted to share our operating updates, but like everything else in 2020, that decision was made for us. I know our staff worked very hard on the meeting planning, as well as all the other projects I’ve written about today. This has been another busy and productive year, and I am immensely proud of our employees for their individual and combined efforts over the past 12 months.
Here’s wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Gov. Whitmer announced initiatives to increase high-speed internet in October. I did hear PIEG took advantage of this money in a previous initiative but haven’t seen any reports on it yet. This is the third batch of grants and they are offering 12.7 million in grants to expand broadband infrastructure statewide.
In looking ahead to 2021, I am wondering where the priority of providing high speed internet to rural areas has landed. Did PIEG obtain grant funding to complete a feasibility study for this service? Will PIEG apply for monies from this grant to continue this endeavor?
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