Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative (GCEC) staged its annual members meeting at Van Alstyne High School on Monday, though not in the fashion it had originally intended. As it had been in years past, the members meeting was to be held outdoors at Panther Stadium. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and GCEC officials contacted Van Alstyne ISD officials early that morning and came up with a plan to host the event in the gymnasium instead.

GCEC is in the business of providing power to its customers despite the weather conditions, and so weather didn’t stop the event from being the well-run get together it has been in years past. Despite a nearly full high school parking lot, getting situated and inside the building was no problem thanks to flaggers and employees driving multi-seat electric cart shuttles.

Inside, well, there were a whole lot of GCEC customers. Estimates had the total number somewhere north of 1,300 members. Was it the annual meeting that brought them out in the rain? Was it the promise of free food? Prizes? It was a bit of all three as the line to get food stretched to the west entrance of the school. The sheer number of happy customers was such that GCEC CEO and General Manager David McGinnis stood next to the line and apologizing that the food was running out, this despite the fact that extra food had been ordered compared to years past.

The VAHS gymnasium resembled a playoff basketball crowd as the seats were full and it was standing room only. Following the national anthem and invocation, GCEC President Charles Rice addressed the audience and spoke of the history of the company, from its humble beginnings above the bank in downtown Van Alstyne to its position now as one of the top coop electric providers in the country.

"We are not going to let a computer answer your phone calls," Rice said to great applause.

Rice also announced that membership voted to increase the capital credit returns to its customers, doubling last year’s total to a $4 million payout this year. Those checks will be on the same schedule as last year and customers should see their returns in their mailbox in December.

Business was attended to in the form of an election for director of District 1. Running unopposed, Ray Houston was named the new District 1 director.

McGinnis addressed the crowd, stating that he contacted the company attorney to ask about protocol should the weather prohibit two percent of total membership – a quorum – from attending. Looking around at the full gym, McGinnis commented that it wasn’t a problem on this night. "We’re all here."

GCEC offers scholarships each year to high school seniors from each of the 22 high schools in their coverage area. Scholarship winners for 2013 were: Colton Grantham (Allen H.S.), Cody Long (Anna), Austin Conway (Anna), Elaney Sanford (Bells), Megan Wagoner (Bells), Emily Bailey (Blue Ridge), Mackenzie Armstrong (Celina), Kinzie McQuaid (Celina), Kaci Garbacik (Collinsville), Kayla Robinson (Denison), Anthony Franze (Gunter), Austin Oliver (homeschool), Alex Akins (Howe), Cameron Knight (Lovejoy), Meegan Alexander (Melissa), Cayman Garrison (McKinney North), Randi Kirk (S&S), Cody Hedges (S&S), Rahat Hossain (Sherman), Sarah Noble (Texoma Christian School), Savannah Thompson (Tom Bean), Jonathan Chinners (Van Alstyne), Hunter Offill (Van Alstyne), Sydney Sprowl (Van Alstyne), Sierra Motley (Van Alstyne), Brady Flanery (Whitesboro), Craig Maynard (Whitesboro) and Cheyenne Cate (Whitewright.)

Also honored were two students chosen for Texas Electric Cooperative’s Government in Action Rural Youth Tour, a fully-sponsored programed to give students an in-depth look at the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. The chosen students meet their legislators, tour the D.C. sites and learn about government and history. This year’s winners were Kyle Johnson and Eric Jackson.

McGinnis got to the meat of the meeting in his annual report. He stated that due to a less-than-severe winter and summer in 2012, kilowatt usage and hours were down which means that revenue was down. However, expenses were down, too, allowing the conservatively-run cooperative to remain a solid profit margin. As a matter of fact, McGinnis stated that there was only a .093 percent change in margins from 2011. Other highlights included a Top 25 ranking for number of meters served per employee out of 800 coops across the nation and a Top 15 ranking nationally for overhead cost management. This was all music to the members’ ears.

McGinnis added more good news: GCEC is growing eight to 10 percent due to an improving economy, the coop serves more than 39,000 meters currently and it is building its own substations to save cost.

"We are, and always will be, a not-for-profit electric coop," said McGinnis.