Reviewing 2023, looking ahead to 2024 by Eric Eriksen
Together we celebrate the accomplishments of 2023 and prepare for the year ahead. I feel so blessed to have you as my neighbors and truly enjoy serving you. Thank you!
March 1st, 2023 was my first day as your new CEO, following the many years of service and accomplishments of retiring CEO Loren Howard. You can imagine all the changes I was experiencing as I met my new neighbors, coworkers and friends. The San Luis Valley has the best people. One of my favorite quotes is by Morgan Freeman, “To challenge yourself; it’s the only path to growth.” This past year I purchased my first mountain bike and started learning to ride the endless trails. This had its challenges. I crashed the demo bike and my lungs really got to experience what living at elevation 8200’ felt like. I stuck with it and had a wonderful summer full of sunshine and adventures.
2023 in review
The SLVREC team delivered exceptional achievements for you in 2023. The 2023 Road Map was the focus, which led the way toward exceeding all six of our industry benchmarks and completing 35 of 38 project goals. Thank you for helping me recognize our SLVREC employees. They take great pride in serving you and in achieving one of the most successful years to date.
Industry benchmarks include safety, member satisfaction, reliability and affordability shown in the figure above. The DART rate is an OSHA metric (Days Away Restricted or Transfer), measuring the number of recordable incidents that results in one or more days away from work. These are the things that keep me awake at night. The safety of our employees is paramount so that they can go home to their friends and loved ones always. Our employees are regularly exposed to hazards to deliver the service you value. I expect continued education, training and constant evaluation across all aspects of work from employees. Safety is no exception as I observe these activities every day. However, perhaps the most important trait is the caring act of looking out for each other, which is supported by the strong bonds and relationships employees have with each other and our members. I am happy to report almost two million miles of safe driving and over 381 days of no lost time accidents.
Thank you for staying connected through emails, phone calls, walk-ins, social media and more. I very much appreciate hearing your thoughts. I need to know what we can do better, so that you can help us constantly improve. Every year we send out a member satisfaction survey with good results. In 2022 it reported 82 percent satisfaction. We just recently received the results from the 2023 survey, which reported increased satisfaction of 86 percent. We are one San Luis Valley REC! The 2024 survey will be slightly different with additional detail allowing us to calculate a national satisfaction index referred to as ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index). Be looking forward to our survey next year.
As our system grows, ages and gets more complicated, it is not surprising to see a long-term historic trend of slightly decreasing reliability here and across the nation. SLVREC has done an outstanding job staying below state and national benchmarks considering the vast diversity and distances across our service area. As reliability challenges are greater here, so are the impacts to rural life. In 2023 SLVREC increased its focus on reliability with the aid of data analytics. As a result, member outage durations and frequencies were better than the prior year and still below national and state averages. These numbers are reported in the figure below following industry standards known as SAIDI (duration) and SAIFI (frequency).
As previously reported, effective Jan. 1, 2024, residential rates will increase about 1.3 percent. A detailed rate comparison can be found within the December Newsboy edition and online at SLVREC Electric Rates. Members and member businesses experience the rising cost of everything. This is a national challenge that affects us right here at home. I wish SLVREC was immune to this, but long lead times and increasing material costs do affect the cost of service. However, this is not an excuse for us to sit idle as if there were nothing to do about it. Perhaps one of the greatest traits of the cooperative business model is the ability to constantly focus on financial efficiency rather than profits. We are always looking for new ways to maximize the value of every penny to deliver affordable rates over the long run. SLVREC’s affordable rates are the result of strategic planning, members, partnerships and the hard work by every employee.
2024 Road Map
The SLVREC team has developed a 2024 plan forward supported by a budget approved in the December Board of Directors meeting. Expect to find the updated 2024 Road Map on our website in the month ahead and presentation at our annual membership meeting. Please reach out to request a presentation to your business or organization and feel free to walk-in to visit anytime.
Notable items include:
• Breaking ground on 2-megawatts of solar generation to be constructed in the Valley. We are eagerly awaiting the results of our continued grant acquisition efforts that include over $8 million for solar facilities alone.
• The Electrify and Save On-Bill Repayment program will officially launch to members on March 1st. This program directly saves members money and improves quality of life through home, business and irrigation efficiency improvements.
• Lean Six Sigma process improvement certification will be delivered to two SLVREC employee teams over three months starting in February. Think of this as the SLVREC “shark tank.” Employees will learn and apply methodology to actual process improvement projects. This will be a new multi-year program to grow SLVREC culture to do more with less, delivering the best value to members. Check out the Lean Six Sigma Institute link for more information (leansixsigmainstitute.org).
• Conducting a third-party financial cost of service study to support equitable, accurate, and stable rates
SLVREC is leading the way forward and stands by our commitment to serve you. As the second oldest electric cooperative in Colorado, SLVREC has a long tradition of serving its more than 7,500-member community and improving the quality of life in the San Luis Valley. Innovating new energy resources and programs are another way that SLVREC is demonstrating its commitment to our members and the wellbeing of the San Luis Valley.
We’re here whenever you need us. Connect with us online, in person or through our social media channels. However you choose to connect, please let us know how we can serve you better.
I wish you a Blessed and Happy New Year!