Thursday, March 11, 2010
The regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Omaha Public Power District was held in the Board Room on the Atrium Level of Energy Plaza East, on March 11, 2010, at 10:00 a.m.
Present were Directors M. J. Cavanaugh, N. P. Dodge Jr., J. K. Green, A. L. McGuire, J. R. Thompson, F. J. Ulrich and D. D. Weber. Director Hall was absent. Also present were W. G. Gates, President; M. C. Bodammer, Corporate Secretary; and S. M. Bruckner and T. F. Meyerson, General Counsel for the District. Mr. Green, Board Chair, presided, and Mrs. Bodammer, Corporate Secretary, recorded the minutes. Other members of Management present were D. J. Bannister, M. I. Doghman, E. E. Easterlin, J. T. Hansen, A. J. Minks, D. F. Widoe, G. R. Williams, C. L. Buettner, S. L. Hutcherson, A. M. Davis, J. L. Curbeam, R. R. Headley, J. J. Hanson, and M. R. Jones. Vice President Burke was absent. Others present included C. E. Perkins from I.B.E.W. Local #763; Mark Welsch; and approximately four additional customer-owners and employees of the District.
The Corporate Secretary read the following:
“Notice of the time and place of this meeting was publicized by notifying the area news media; by publicizing same in the Omaha World-Herald and Outlets; by displaying such notice on the Arcade Level of Energy Plaza since March 5, 2010; and by mailing such notice to each of the District’s Directors on that same date.
“A copy of the proposed agenda for this meeting has been maintained, on a current basis, and is readily available for public inspection in the office of the District’s Corporate Secretary.
“Additionally, a copy of the Open Meetings Law is available for inspection in the public meeting book located in this meeting room.”
It was moved and seconded that the Board reviewed the January 2010 Comprehensive Financial and Operating Report and that the minutes for the last meeting be approved. The vote was recorded as follows: Thompson – Yes; Weber – Yes; Cavanaugh – Yes; Dodge – Yes; Hall – Absent; McGuire – Yes; Ulrich – Yes and Green – Yes. The motion carried.
Thereafter, the Corporate Secretary read the following:
“Persons wishing to address the Board on a particular item are asked to approach the microphone as that agenda item is discussed. Comments will be heard following Board discussion of the item and prior to a vote by the Board.”
The following resolution was then read, and upon motion duly seconded, was placed on roll call. The vote on the resolution is indicated following the description of that resolution.
RESOLUTION NO. 5817 approves the 2009 Annual Report for the District’s Health Plan. Director Thompson led the discussion stating that an annual analysis is required by State statutes and described the medical expenses incurred in 2009 and the amount required to fund the liability, as well as other post employment benefits. He reported certain fees are also required to administer the program and the reserve adjustments. Additionally, certain rebates received from insurance companies for health care and prescription expenses help to offset these expenses. Mr. Thompson further described the reserve balances for the Health Plan needed to fund the obligations of the Health Plan. Director McGuire called upon Vice President Easterlin to describe the different components of the Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB). Mr. Easterlin reported that several years ago, the accounting standards required that organizations providing benefits to their employees after retirement recognize the potential future liability, based on actuarial information, of those expenses that would eventually be paid out. Once this liability is recognized, Mr. Easterlin described two options to cover these expenses: (1) a company may create an advance cash fund and make annual contributions to the fund to decrease the liability and have cash available before health-related expenses occur, or (2) the company may leave the expenses on the balance sheet and utilize a “pay as you go” method and make those payments at the time the expenses occur. Using the second method, the expenses will likely be much larger due to inflation, etc. Mr. Easterlin explained approximately $7.9 million is the amount OPPD must set aside this year to fund future health expenses to comply with the first option. The District previously elected to fund the obligation on an annual basis so that employees will have benefits in the future. Following the discussion, the vote was recorded as follows: Thompson – Yes; Weber – Yes; Cavanaugh – Yes; Dodge – Yes; Hall – Absent; McGuire – Yes; Ulrich – Yes; and Green – Yes. The motion carried.
A copy of the foregoing resolution is filed in the District’s Corporate Records file.
The next order of business was an update on OPPD’s new customer billing statement format. Board Chair Green called upon Director McGuire to introduce Cynthia Buettner, Division Manager – Customer Service Operations, who provided a PowerPoint presentation concerning the format changes and improvements customers will soon see on their electric bills. A copy of this presentation is appended to these proceedings. Ms. Buettner explained all the changes and reasons behind the changes. She commented that an internal cross-functional team was formed and was led by Customer Service Operations and assisted by internal business units.
Three objectives were identified: (1) reformat the statement so the remittance section is on the bottom of the bill which will help with the maintenance of the remittance equipment, (2) create a more contemporary look consistent with bills that other utilities and industries are currently using, and (3) reduce confusion in presenting level payment information on the statements. Input from J. D. Power and Associates, local companies, and several different OPPD customer focus groups composed of level payment plan customers, non-level payment customers and different age groups was used to develop the final prototype for the new bill. This was a year-long process and was conducted for business reasons and to improve customer satisfaction. J. D. Power and Associates scored the design and determined it should have no negative impact on future OPPD customer satisfaction scores. Various software applications were modified that tie in with the billing system upgrade currently in progress. Communications about the new billing format will begin to go out to customers this month and they will receive new statements beginning in May. Thereafter, Ms. Buettner showed the old statement format and identified the areas needing improvement including elimination of confusing language, relocation of electric usage graphs to a more prominent location on the bill, and relocation of information deemed important to customer. She then showed the new bill design containing all the proposed changes to the audience. Ms. Buettner said OPPD will continue to encourage customers to utilize paperless billing through automatic bank payments and online bill paying methods, both of which are preferred forms of payments. She added the District processes approximately 380,000 online customer payments annually and this number is increasing as popularity grows.
The next item of business was the opportunity for those in attendance to address the Board on any items of District concern. Chairman Green recognized Mark Welsch (5611 Howard Street, Omaha NE 68106). Mr. Welsch stated he is President of GASP (Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution) of Nebraska. He commended the Board for adopting a smoke-free policy on District property and asked the Board to consider changing its hiring practices to hire only non-smokers. He suggested this would reduce insurance costs and send a positive message to the community.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:21 a.m.
A. J. Minks M. C. Bodammer
Assistant Secretary Corporate Secretary