East River Electric Power Cooperative held its 73rd annual meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. This year’s annual meeting theme was “Powering Possibilities.” The meeting highlighted the many ways East River Electric works alongside its member systems to enhance and power people’s lives and communities to make great things possible by providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Attendees took part in the event in person as well as through a livestream viewing option.

“East River exists to enhance the value of its members and together we have built a foundation for success,” said East River CEO/General Manager Bob Sahr. “We continue to celebrate our accomplishments, acknowledge our challenges and plan for the future. Through it all, we remain committed to the cooperative principles that guide us. We will continue ‘Powering Possibilities’ for our members and their communities and, through our cooperative efforts, turn possibilities into reality.”

During the annual meeting presentation, East River leadership discussed the cooperative’s Transmission System Upgrade Plan, detailing achievements, progress, and challenges that have been overcome. Now in its fifth year, the plan is focused on bolstering the system’s infrastructure and improving reliability while providing for future growth.

“As the demand for electricity continues to grow and decades-old infrastructure continues to age, the need for upgrades and expansion is necessary for continuing to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy,” Sahr said. “The cooperative has navigated extended material lead times, permitting and review challenges, and rising costs, but by working together with our member cooperatives we have been able to successfully complete projects on time thanks to the work of East River’s outstanding workforce.”

During the annual meeting lunch, East River’s leadership presented two individuals with the cooperative’s Eminent Service Award: Ervin Fink, a retired East River Electric and Douglas Electric Cooperative board member; and Jeff Genzer, president at Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke law office in Washington, D.C. The Eminent Service Award is the most prestigious honor given by East River’s board of directors to individuals who have had a great impact on East River Electric and the rural electrification program. In addition, East River Board President James Ryken of Clay-Union Electric was presented with an award for 25 years of service and director Galen Grant from Lyon-Lincon Electric was presented with an award for over 17 years of service on the East River board of directors.

The afternoon session began with updates from the Southwest Power Pool followed by a Minnesota legislative update from the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. A business meeting followed the annual meeting’s general session where the director election was held, and the cooperative’s policy statements were adopted.

Photo caption: East River Electric Power Cooperative CEO and General Manager Bob Sahr (left) and East River Electric Board President Jim Ryken provided an update to the co-op’s membership during East River’s 73rd annual meeting.