New federal regulations limiting carbon-monoxide generating power plants may force the closure of Chalk Point just across the Charles County line in Prince George’s, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) President and CEO Austin J. Slater Jr. told the cooperative’s members at the 76th Annual Meeting at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf Wednesday, Sept 10.

Slater said the phasing out of coal-fired plants in the future will make SMECO’s recent delving into solar farms more critical in the years ahead. The first solar farm on Route 5 went on line last November and the utility will begin construction on a new facility in Charles County next spring.

Meanwhile, Nancy W. Zinn of Calvert, Victor B. Allen of Charles County, Daniel W. Dyer of Prince George’s County, J. Douglas Frederick and Joseph V. Stone Jr. of St. Mary’s County were elected to three-year terms on SMECO’s Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting, the fifth year the event was held at the home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs minor league baseball team.

The cooperative had 1,338 members register to vote, with 477 of them voting by absentee mail-in ballot, according to SMECO spokesperson Terry Ressler.

Also on the ballot were several bylaw amendments for customer-members to vote on. Because SMECO serves a neighborhood in northern Calvert County that will include a couple of home sites in Anne Arundel County, one of the bylaws has a provision for Anne Arundel customers to be included among SMECO’s members who may run for the Board of Directors as representatives of Calvert and Anne Arundel counties. Another amendment assures that customers voting absentee count toward the registered number of customers for matters that require a quorum.

Other changes to the bylaws establish requirements for matters related to a consolidation or merger. Mark MacDougall, SMECO’s Vice President of External Affairs and General Counsel, told members the cooperative has no intention or plans to consolidate or merge with any entity.

“When most people think of an electric utility, poles, lines, meters and transformers come to mind,” Slater said during his address. “In our case, what comes to mind is you, the people we serve.”

Slater updated the cooperative’s members on the progress of the Southern Maryland Reliability Project, which he noted will come in $2 million under budget when the operation is complete in late October. The project entailed running transmission lines 4,800 feet across the Patuxent River through conduits 75 under the river bottom. The new transmission loop will provide enhanced reliability to Calvert and lower St. Mary’s counties, including the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

He also lauded the cooperative’s seventh straight year being ranked highest for customer service in the region by J.D. Power’s customer sentiment survey.

Each customer-member who registered received an insulated tote bag, a magnet, and a 6-foot measuring tape. Free ice cream and sodas were also available.

Richard Winkler, chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, welcomed SMECO’s customer-members and called the meeting to order. J. Ernest Bell II of Leonardtown served as the meeting chairman, a duty he has performed every year since 1999.

Joe Lehan, voice of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, served as the emcee for the entertainment prior to the meeting during which the Southern Mix Chorus performed for 45-minutes and customers won prizes for bingo games. Pastor Marianne Christofferson of Brookfield-Immanuel United Methodist Church in Brandywine gave the invocation, the Leonard Hall Junior Naval Academy presented the colors, and the Southern Mix Chorus performed the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting.

Members who registered to vote were eligible to win one of 50 electric bill credits of $35 each. In addition, winners of 14 cash prizes of $75 each and a well-traveled SMECO vehicle were randomly selected from the registered members in attendance. Norman Bowie of Nanjemoy won the SMECO vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Cavalier.

Contact Joseph Norris at