Tri-County Electric directors

Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative President and CEO Craig Eccher (left), Directors Lowell Geiser of Galeton, Pa., Matthew Whiting of Lawrenceville, Pa. and Nick Reitter of Genesee.

Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative members returned three incumbents to the cooperative board of directors during the utility’s 2020 annual meeting, conducted virtually on July 29.

Directors Nicholas Reitter of Genesee, Matthew Whiting of Lawrenceville, Pa. and Lowell Geiser of Galeton, Pa. were unanimously re-elected to represent Districts 3, 5 and 9, respectively, on the cooperative board.

Tri-County opted to conduct its 84th annual meeting virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of the Troy Fair. The traditional in-person meeting and member appreciation day had been scheduled to take place July 28 during the Troy Fair at Alparon Park in Troy.

The virtual meeting was presented via video on the Tri-County website, www.tri-countyrec.com, and Facebook page.

In addition to the announcement of director election results, the virtual annual meeting featured updates about the cooperative presented by Whiting, outgoing board chairman, and Tri-County President and CEO Craig Eccher.

Both officials spoke on the progress of the cooperative’s multi-year project aimed at making high-speed fiber-optic internet service accessible to all members within Tri-County’s service territory.

“In the past you heard me talk about the three Rs — rates, reliability and resilience,” said Whiting. “This year I want to add in a fourth R — reinvention. We have rates, reliability and resilience well in hand and well under management. I want to focus this year on reinvention.”

After 84 years of operating solely as an electric cooperative, he said, Tri-County has reinvented itself as an electric and broadband communication service provider through its fledgling high-speed internet subsidiary, Tri-Co Connections.

“It is definitely exciting times for your cooperative,” Eccher said. “In 2019, your cooperative launched its high-speed internet subsidiary, Tri-Co Connections. This was a historic event, as Tri-County became the first rural electric cooperative in Pennsylvania to provide a fiber-to-the-home solution.”

The cooperative began physical construction of its fiber system in the Coudersport area late in 2019. In early April, Tri-Co Connections hooked up its first internet subscriber.

“To date, we have built about 200 miles of fiber, and now are providing high speed, reliable internet to close to 200 members,” Eccher said. “We continue to construct fiber in Potter County, and in a couple of months we’ll begin building out a fiber backbone along our three-phase circuits which will tie together all 25 of our substations.”

Eccher said the cooperative expects to complete the fiber build out across its 5,000-square mile service territory within five years.

During a reorganizational meeting that immediately followed the premiere of the virtual annual meeting, Gerald A. “Arnie” Kriner of Liberty was elected as the cooperative’s chairman of the board. Valery Robbins of Coudersport was elected vice-chairman of the board, and Geiser was elected secretary-treasurer.

Unlike investor-owned utilities, Tri-County is a not-for-profit business owned by its consumer-members. A democratic organization by nature, the cooperative conducts an annual meeting to update members on the progress made during the past year and to announce results of director elections.

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