A TWEC Board Member’s Perspective // Tom Brichacek February 2020

Headquarters Building

Tom Brichacek TWEC Board Vice Chair

Tom Brichacek
TWEC Board Vice Chair

When I was elected to the Board of Directors in 2012, my first meeting there was a presentation on the needs of our headquarters building. In the presentation, there were multiple deficiencies with our current building that were brought up. After that presentation, a building committee was formed to look into possible solutions for the issues.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, we researched, received bids, and evaluated the use of our members’ money versus the gains to the building. The committee came to the conclusion that putting that much money remodeling a 1940s building didn’t make economic sense.

Moving into 2014, we researched the cost of a new headquarters building and it was concluded that building new versus remodeling made more long-term sense. But the Board felt there were other more pressing items that needed our funds, so we shelved the project at that point.

This year, with no substations being built and no major construction projects on the docket the board felt we were in a good position to bring the headquarters project back up again. We reviewed the past documents and plans and came to the same conclusion we did in 2014, that a remodel wasn’t the best use of our members’ money. We are currently working on updating the plans that were drawn in 2014 to reflect our current needs, and then we will send those plans out for contractor bids.

Our CFO has been working on the funding sources we will need to complete the project. The Board feels strongly that raising our members’ electric rates cannot and will not be a component of the funding for the building. We have also increased the deprecation of the existing building, so there will not be any remaining equity when the time comes to remove it. Once we receive the bids back, we will review the bids to determine the cost for a new building. We will then make the final decision to move forward or not. Rest assured, we are working hard to ensure we are doing what is best for our membership.

 

Legislation

An important component of being on the Board of Directors at Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative is keeping up with the bills being proposed in the State and Federal Legislature. Some of the proposed bills would have an impact on the way cooperatives do business, or affect the cost of providing electric service to our members. As directors, we meet with our legislators to lend our point of view to the bills and their impact on our member-owners.

One example of our work on your behalf happened last year. There was an unintended consequence of the 2017 tax reform law that was passed that would have threatened cooperatives’ tax exempt status if we accepted grants or federal disaster relief funds. Last September, TWEC CEO Dan Carlisle and I traveled to Washington, D.C. with other electric cooperative directors and CEOs from across the state to meet with our elected Representatives and Senators to discuss the impact of this law on our local cooperatives. We made real progress with all of the Minnesota legislators (except Representative Omar) signing onto or co-sponsoring the RURAL act to fix this issue. It was signed into law by President Trump in mid-December, saving cooperatives and, in turn, their members, across the nation from suffering the effects of the varied tax implications.

Your elected Board of Directors works with the employees of the Cooperative to ensure safe, reliable and affordable power reaches your homes.

Tom Brichacek
TWEC Board Vice Chair