Attendance boomed at SECO Energy’s 79th Annual Meeting of the Membership on Saturday, March 25. Thousands of members, guests, vendors and VIPs enjoyed hot breakfast biscuits, sweet treats, energy efficiency displays, live entertainment, gifts and a chance to win grand prizes and various door prizes. The weather was filled with trademark Florida sunshine and the springtime breeze kept everyone cool.
The Cooperative’s 79th Annual Meeting broke attendance records with a total of 4,539 registered members and their guests, compared to 3,100 registered members and guests in 2016. Additional parking areas were needed due to the increased attendance. The parking team was responsible for parking over 2,000 vehicles – 600 more than last year – along with 18 motorcycles and even one golf cart that came down US 301 in the wee morning hours.
Parking 2,000 vehicles over a three-hour period and providing shuttle service is complicated. Coordinating the exit of that many vehicles in less than an hour is no small feat either, but SECO appreciates its members’ patience with the exit traffic.
The crowd was well-fed with over 4,500 breakfast biscuits served. SECO kept the crowd lively with sweet treats and caffeine serving more than 10,500 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, 16,000 chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, along with 5,300 cups of coffee and almost 6,000 cans of soda.
Registered members received a copy of SECO’s 2016 Annual Report and a gift bag with two commemorative insulated steel tumblers. SECO and its wholesale power provider Seminole Electric distributed over 6,000 LED bulbs to members. Members won a total of 127 door prizes, many donated by local businesses and vendors that are also SECO members. Four cash prizes were up for grabs along with a refurbished Dodge Dakota truck and a refurbished electric golf cart.
Michael Niemiec from Inverness won the refurbished 2005 Dodge Dakota truck, Lake Panasoffkee’s Shannon Jessup was the winner of the refurbished electric golf cart from The Villages Golf Cars and The Villages resident Edward Maffuccio was the happy winner of the $1,500 cash prize. Other cash prize winners were Clark Smith from Webster who won $1,000 and Christine Bartow from The Villages and Edward James from Leesburg both won a $500 cash prize.
In the days leading up to the meeting and during, over 400 additional members “liked” SECO’s Facebook page and over 700 members interacted with the cooperative on Facebook during the meeting. These members were entered into a random drawing to win a $300 bill credit. Rosemary May of The Villages was the winner of the bill credit. Members who pledged a financial contribution to The Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE) had a chance to win a patriotic picnic set. ACRE is a committee that funds candidates who support the interests of electric cooperatives such as SECO. Gloria Blackman of Tavares, one of 75 members who pledged to assist ACRE, was the winner of the patriotic picnic set.
Several of SECO’s vendor-partners were on hand to display their energy-saving products and services for interested members. SECO displayed its new Solar Life program – the hassel-free green choice alternative to individual rooftop solar. Six members signed up to have a portion of their utility-supplied power reduced by the output of four solar panels in Seminole Electric’s 8,000 panel solar array located in Hardee County.
SECO’s Solar Square array and its online production dashboard was also on display and accessible to members. The solar demo’s house replica displays a bi-directional meter for net metering, an inverter and a photovoltaic module on a simulated rooftop. Members interested in solar energy can use the Solar Estimator to help determine costs and output.
During his CEO Report, Jim Duncan asked members to consider enrolling in the Pennies from Heaven program that offers financial aid to local members. “SECO’s Pennies from Heaven program rounds up members bills to the nearest dollar. Currently, less than 8,000 members contribute to the program. If all 197,000 members enrolled in Pennies from Heaven, the yearly contribution would top $1.18 million. Imagine all of the good your pennies could contribute to in your communities if every SECO member enrolls in the program.”
Ray Vick, Board of Trustees President, stated, “I am personally asking all 197,000 members to consider contributing to Pennies from Heaven. With more members contributing, the collective pennies could fund local charitable organizations, purchase equipment for first responders, support school and youth programs, fund teacher endowments and many more worthy causes in SECO’s service area.”
Unfortunately, the record setting attendance created a small shortage in breakfast biscuits and Annual Report gift bags for about 100 members who arrived just before the business meeting began. SECO is in the process of identifying those members to provide an apology letter and gesture of goodwill.
The PowerPoint slides from Saturday’s Annual Meeting are posted online at www.secoenergy.com>YourCo-op. Video footage of the meeting will be posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter next week. “Like” SECO’s Facebook page and “follow” @SECOEnergy on Twitter for news releases and cooperative updates.