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The annual meeting of Delaware Electric Cooperative, traditionally one of the most well-attended in the region, returned to an in-person format Aug. 16 for the first time in two years with members eager to tend to co-op business and gobble fried chicken.

DEC representatives said members consumed close to 3,000 meals of fried chicken and cole slaw in the Centre Ice Rink Delaware State Fairgrounds, where visitors also had a chance to mingle with vendors and exhibitors.

Outside the rink, co-op crews demonstrated how they restore power and how to be safe around power lines and equipment. Participants also enjoyed live entertainment from Junior Wilson and Big Hat, No Cattle during the dinner and business meeting.

Chair Patricia S. Dorey opened the meeting, with Pastor Tim Dukes of Central Worship Center delivering the invocation.

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware discusses supply chain issues. (Photo By: Steven Johnson)

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware’s only member of the House of Representatives and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, congratulated DEC on its 86th annual meeting and its resilience during the pandemic.

She praised DEC co-op leaders for their work on addressing supply chain issues. “I’ve learned that transformers are taking forever. So I’ve been able to work on bipartisan legislation to address that.”

Secretary/treasurer Laura T. Phillips said DEC remains in a strong financial position, with operating revenues of $177 million in 2021 and a net margin of $21.3 million.

In his report, President and CEO Greg Starheim noted that DEC’s service reliability remains among the nation’s best at a time. He pointed out that the co-op continues to grow, with more than 4,000 new accounts added in 2021 and more than 2,000 on the books already in 2022.

Supply chain issues continue to be a challenge, and DEC has joined with other utilities in bringing the problem to the attention of elected officials and utility organizations. The co-op continues to add solar facilities to its portfolio, he said, with projects in the construction phase or on the drawing board projected to save members more than $1 million in power supply costs for other sources.

Reelected to the board of directors without opposition were Charles L. Towles Jr. of the 1st District, Dorey of the 4th District and Thomas E. Brown of the 7th District. Dorey paid tribute to longtime board chair William J. Wells, who stepped down from the chairmanship in 2021 but remains on the board.

“He has served the board and the membership in exemplary fashion,” Dorey said of Wells, a board member for 45 years.

—Report by Steven Johnson, Vice President, Communications, VMD Association