Midwest Electric May Merge

Midwest CEO Matt Berry spoke to members about a possible merger with Paulding Putnam Electric.
By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

Midwest Electric, which services 10,772 members in west central Ohio, is considering merging with Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative that could lead to $11 to $13 million in savings over 10 years.
At their annual meeting Saturday morning at Memorial High School, Midwest CEO Matt Berry spoke to a packed auditorium about the potential of this merger and how it could benefit the members.
This wouldn’t be the first time Paulding Putnam and Midwest would start working together. Two years ago, they began a share service agreement in which two Paulding Putnam employees occasionally come down and complete services in Midwest’s area. That agreement, according to Berry, has saved Midwest about $100,000 each year.
That agreement is what provided both companies a glimpse at what could be possible with a merger.
Starting last year, executive committees from both boards started meeting more frequently to learn about each others cooperative. With that came a brief study from the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, that found the potential to save millions over a decade. Berry mentioned that the study wasn’t detailed enough for either board to make a decision which led to them reaching out to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to conduct a more comprehensive study. That study is currently underway and should be completed by the end of June.
“To emphasize that this is just a study — nothing has been decided — we’re simply doing our due diligence to see if a consolidation makes sense for members and employees,” Berry said. “Both sides are committed to no employee layoffs as the result of a consolidation. And because we are one hour apart, both of our office locations will remain open.”
While both are committed to no employee layoffs, Berry did note that both cooperatives have a handful of retirements coming up and that is where they will likely see a lot of their savings on the employment end.
Berry also explained to the crowd why Paulding Putnam is the cooperative they are looking at merging with, besides just location.
He explained that Midwest and Paulding Putnam are alike in many ways, with the co-op being financially healthy in terms of equity — higher than Midwest — their reliability stats are higher; they have about the same member services programs; they have a community fund same as Midwest’s; score well in terms of customer satisfaction and utilize the same core technologies when it comes to billing, accounting, mapping, metering and more. He said they also follow the same electric construction standards and are both members of Buckeye Power Supply.
“We understand this is the most important and most critical decision that we’ll ever make,” Berry said. “And if both boards determine to proceed, it will ultimately be decided by you, the members. And both of the memberships would have to approve it for it to happen.”

To read the full story, pick up Monday's Leader.

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