Big Rivers is positioned to thrive today and in the years to come.
Big Rivers Electric Corporation is focused on a mission to safely deliver reliable power, dedicated to sound fiscal practices and a stable financial future, and devoted to best serving our three Member-Owners -- Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation, Kenergy Corp, and Meade County Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation. These principles remain at the forefront of every decision our company makes, guiding our actions through each opportunity and challenge. While each year brings its own victories and obstacles, Big Rivers can confidently report that 2017 has been a year of progress. We are moving boldly into 2018, firm in the belief that the positive developments of 2017 will lead to greater growth potential and continued solid operations.
Big Rivers’ employees represent our most valuable assets, providing the skills and talent our company needs to succeed. This understanding makes employee safety our top priority, and Big Rivers has long been proud to share our awards and achievements. However, our company recognizes that maintaining and promoting a strong safety culture requires continuous effort, and 2017 marked our best safety year on record. More importantly, all Big Rivers locations completed at least one year without a lost-time injury, with Headquarters, Sebree Station, Wilson Station, and Energy Transmission and Substation earning Governor’s Safety and Health Awards in 2017. These accomplishments bring the company total to 46 Governor’s Safety and Health Awards, preserving Big Rivers’ position as the most decorated entity in Kentucky. The company’s commitment to safety was also honored with the Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance Destiny Award for the second straight year. This recognition was limited to just 14 Kentucky organizations that demonstrated formal safety and training programs for employees, along with a dedication to safety at all levels. The greatest reward is knowing our employees embrace this safety mindset and actively practice safety to protect themselves and their coworkers.
Big Rivers is also dedicated to developing the next generation of company leaders, implementing new strategies to increase employee training and engagement. With a workforce in transition, this substantial investment in industry experience and leadership development is crucial to both our current operations and our future success. Individual Development Plans and Talent Reviews Days are being utilized to create roadmaps for employee career paths and corporate succession planning. As part of this focus on talent development, employees completed several educational programs in 2017, including supervisor and management programs conducted in partnership with Western Kentucky University. Big Rivers and its Member-Owners also graduated their first class through the Cooperative Leadership Program. Launched in 2016, this program was designed to increase employee communication and proficiency across the cooperative system.
Power marketing efforts throughout the Commonwealth and the country continue to flourish, with local project growth in Member-Owner territories and long-term contracts providing revenue stability and helping to ensure competitive rates. A large Kenergy industrial member completed a major expansion in 2017, with Big Rivers building new transmission infrastructure to serve the increasing load. Several other expansions and new construction projects were also announced in 2017, with Big Rivers and Member-Owners experiencing an ongoing increase in economic development activity. With a portion of an ever-expanding 80 MW Nebraska contract set to begin in 2018, Big Rivers continues to finalize resources and seize new customer opportunities. Other power marketing projects on the horizon include a ten-year 100 MW contract with the Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency (KyMEA), an inter-local cooperation agency representing a number of city-owned utilities seeking a new power arrangement, set to begin in 2019. Sales on the bi-lateral capacity market also resulted in securing an additional $13.9 million, and the optimization of an existing transmission agreement with another Midwestern cooperative could lead to a savings of $700,000 each year. An $11.2 million investment and partnership with Hoosier Energy and LS Power to build and operate the Duff-Coleman EHV 345 kV line is also expected to yield a $1.36 million return in the first year.
In a late 2017 development, Big Rivers reached a critical settlement with Henderson Municipal Power and Light (HMPL) to settle a dispute that has been going on for more than two decades.
Our nation and the power landscape remain in a state of change, with leadership within the state and federal government taking a more common sense approach on environmental regulations. Coal-fired utilities were provided some relief in October 2017 when the EPA issued a notice proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan. Without this action, cooperatives would have been forced to take expensive and irreversible steps to comply with this heavily-debated rule. Big Rivers, along with numerous utilities across the country and the support of NRECA, continues to support EPA staff in finding a replacement rule that ensures the ability to continue delivery of affordable, reliable electricity to our Members.
While the environmental future remains uncertain, Big Rivers is actively developing long-term plans that will provide stability for our company and our Member-Owners. Big Rivers has taken innovative steps to improve operations at our generating stations by leveraging new technologies, installing strategic upgrades, and expanding landfill capacity. The company also added small-scale solar in 2017, building seven solar arrays at schools, parks, and Member-Owner offices across our service territory. These educational arrays will allow the company to better research alternative power sources and put real-time solar information into the hands of our Member-Owners. The 120 kW Solar Education Project is connected to a public website that provides everyone with production and weather data from each array, along with pricing and basic solar technology diagrams.
Big Rivers strives be viewed as one of the nation’s top generation and transmission cooperatives all while maintaining a focus on our vision and values. We are “Powered By” safety, excellence, integrity, teamwork, service to our Member-Owners and the community, respect for our employees, and a consciousness for the environment, giving us the tools to succeed today and lead tomorrow.
Paul Edd Butler
Chair, Board of Directors
Robert W. Berry
President and CEO