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Over 1,200 people attend Lake Region Electric Cooperative's 85th annual meeting

The cooperative held its annual meeting at Life Church in Fergus Falls on Thursday, June 2. Over 1,200 people attended in-person or online.

Lake Region Electric Cooperative CEO Tim Thompson delivers his address during the cooperative's 85th Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
Lake Region Electric Cooperative CEO Tim Thompson delivers his address during the cooperative's 85th Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
Contributed / LREC
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FERGUS FALLS — Lake Region Electric Cooperative, also known as LREC, held its 85th annual meeting on Thursday, June 2, at Life Church in Fergus Falls, with satellite in-person meetings in Frazee and Parkers Prairie.

Approximately 950 members and friends attended the event in-person, with an additional 278 watching the event online via livestream.

"By expanding our annual meeting model to include three in-person location options, one in Fergus Falls, one in Frazee, and one in Parkers Prairie, we were able to connect with more of our members at places closer to their homes and businesses," said LREC CEO Tim Thompson. "This new model allowed 98% of our members to be within 25 miles of an annual meeting location. I am confident that this year’s attendance ranks as one of the highest in the past few decades."

Prior to the meeting, those who attended received a catered meal by Betty's Pantry and live music from Tim Eggebraaten.

Opening the meeting, LREC Board Chair Tom Jennen spoke about being grateful for his opportunity to serve on a board elected by LREC members. He also recognized the retirement of Directors Joyce Valley and Robert Shaw, both of whom served the cooperative for 15 years and expressed their appreciation for LREC employees.

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Annual meeting 2.jpg
LREC’s membership enjoy their dinner at Life Church in Fergus Falls before the annual meeting.
Contributed / LREC

Thompson reported on the year LREC had in 2021, including positive member feedback, rate stability, prioritization of reliability (shown by recent upgrades to transmission lines and substations), increasing equity and the growth of the cooperative's natural gas subsidiary, Lake Region Energy Services.

He said $1,838,490 of capital credits were paid to members in 2021, making it nine consecutive years of record capital credit retirements paid to members.

Thompson also addressed the Memorial Day storm that caused almost 10,000 members to be out of power and reported that all services were back on within 72 hours. He acknowledged the LREC employees in attendance and recognized them for their dedication and determination to get the power back on.

Special guests throughout the meeting included GRE Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer Mark Fagan, who spoke about energy transition and rate stability, and retired CEO of Minnesota Rural Electric Association Mark Glaess, who provided a historical perspective on how electric cooperatives changed the lives of people living in rural areas.

LREC also welcomes two new directors, Gary Olson and Charlie Blixt. Olson was elected by acclamation in District 9 and Blixt was elected in a two-member race in District 6. Incumbent director Mike Brasel of District 3 was elected by acclamation.

LREC members who were unable to attend can watch the meeting video at lrec.coop/annualmeeting .

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“The last order was either a Double Papa Burger or a double bacon,” recalled employee Wendy Olson. “I’ve been working here for four or five years. At first, it (the last day) was sad, but then people kept coming in; the line grew and grew. By the end it was bittersweet.”