2024 Annual Meeting

Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc., (CHELCO) hosted its Annual Meeting at Freeport High School on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

Over 400 members and guests attended the meeting, where they spoke to CHELCO representatives and participated in live demonstrations and children’s activities. Board President Gerald Edmondson, Secretary/Treasurer Gayle Hughes, and Chief Executive Officer Steve Rhodes gave annual reports as part of the business meeting.

Board Attorney Jeff McInnis announced the 2024 CHELCO Board Trustee Election results. The three incumbent trustees up for election were re-elected for three-year terms.

District 1, Lee Perry

District 7, Bert Prutzman

District 9, Dwayne Davis

During the meeting, CEO Steve Rhodes discussed service territory growth, continued strains on the cooperative due to inflation, and efforts to control distribution costs through load control efforts, careful planning, and improved efficiencies.

“In addition to our everyday efforts to control the cost of distributing (members) electricity, we have a separate program aimed at reducing wholesale power costs,” Rhodes said. “CHELCO’s load control program saved members $3.7 million in 2023. On average, that’s about $58 per account. To put that into perspective, the average residential member who has been with CHELCO for the last 10 years has saved about $500.”

As part of his update, Rhodes announced that CHELCO would have its first distribution rate increase in over a decade due to increasing cost pressures. Despite the increase, Rhodes went on to share CHELCO’s commitment to its mission of providing quality services and products at a competitive value.

“The increase for the average residential member is a modest 3.5% and will amount to less than $5 per month,” Rhodes said. “It should be noted that CHELCO consistently has among the lowest rates of electric co-ops in Florida and Alabama. That will not change with this modest increase.”

Immediately following the business meeting, CHELCO drew the six winners of the $1,000 scholarship in a drawing of more than 50 eligible applicants. Hannah Bell, Northwest Florida State College; Casey Drayer, Freeport High School; Nolan Eaton, Niceville High School; Lindsay Onuffer, Rocky Bayou Christian School; Colten Phillips, Paxton School; Jillian Toppin, Niceville High School were the six recipients of the 2024 CHELCO Scholarship.