Moon Lake Electric shows growth despite recession

ROOSEVELT, UTAH — The economy may have slowed down in the Uintah Basin at the end of 2008, but Moon Lake Electric Association still saw growth, the cooperative’s general manager and CEO said Thursday night.
Grant Earl told Moon Lake’s members revenues rose 3 percent last year. The increase helped the co-op meet all of its financial obligations and close 2008 with a net margin of more than $5 million.
“We’re still in good financial position,” Earl said during Moon Lake’s annual meeting, which was once again held at Constitution Park in Roosevelt. “That margin allows us to internally finance all of our operations — building new lines, substations, installing power equipment on our system. It has even allowed us to start a building project on Highway 40 until we secure loan funds for the project.”
Earl addressed three issues he said are most commonly brought to him by members:
n Is Moon Lake taking advantage of federal stimulus money?
n How is work on the co-op’s new operations and office complex progressing?
n What will the impact be of cap-and-trade legislation being proposed in Congress?
Earl said Moon Lake has implemented many of the programs in the power industry that are eligible for stimulus funds, if they were economically feasible. As an example, the cooperative began installing an advance meter reading system eight to 10 years ago.
“We are fully automated at this point and unfortunately we’re not able to draw on this stimulus money now,” Earl said. “But it’s been good for our system. We can automatically read your meter without sending people to your home and we’re able to monitor the service and the equipment.”
He said Moon Lake — because its vision in the past — will likely not qualify for any of the federal stimulus dollars currently available.
As for the complex being built on Highway 40 west of Roosevelt, Earl said the project is on schedule and on budget. It is expected to be completed in October and will cost about $11 million.
“It should start taking a fair shape — the project — within the next couple weeks,” Earl said, adding that Moon Lake is in negotiations to sell its existing office complex.
When it came to the cap-and-trade question, Earl turned the microphone over to Kimball Rasmussen, president and CEO of Deseret Power. Rasmussen has done extensive research on climate change and the impact of cap-and-trade legislation.
“If the legislation that’s being considered passes, you can expect your power bill within a short period of time to very likely double,” Rasmussen told Moon Lake’s members. “We think that’s a problem.”
Rasmussen said he began studying climate change about a year ago, pouring over binders filled with materials culled from multiple sources. He based on his research he authored his own booklet — “A Rational Look at Climate Change Concerns” — which has earned him invitations to present his work to groups throughout the United States.
“We’ve worked with all of our congressional delegations,” Rasmussen said, before reading quotes from an e-mail he’d received from Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who has voted against the latest attempt to cap carbon dioxide emissions.
“I would encourage you, no matter which side of the political aisle you might find yourself on, to call the congressman, e-mail the congressman, write to the congressman, and encourage the congressman to continue to vote no on this legislation,” Rasmussen said.
The final matter of business at Thursday night’s meeting was the voting for board members in districts 2 and 3. In both races, the incumbents won. Yordis “Yogi” Nielsen will continue to represent District 2, while Kent Olsen will represent District 3.
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By GEOFF LIESIK
Uintah Basin Standard