Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2012, 11:42 am

Farmers Mutual members approve merger with Jo-Carroll Energy

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Press release submitted by Jo-Carroll Energy

Farmers Mutual members overwhelmingly approve merger with Jo-Carroll Energy

Members of Farmers Mutual Electric Company voted overwhelmingly to approve a merger with fellow cooperative, Jo-Carroll Energy. The merger will help both co-ops by sharing employee talent and equipment, improving efficiency, spreading the costs of current and imminent regulations, sharing investment in smart-grid technology, increasing power supply options and spreading fixed costs over a larger membership.

Farmers Mutual held a special member meeting Nov. 13 to discuss the plan and agreement of merger with Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. with members and vote on the merger. Eighty-seven percent of the Farmers Mutual members who voted were in favor of the measure. Farmers Mutual members' approval represents 302 "yes" votes out of 348 ballots cast. A two-thirds majority was required for passage.

Farmers Mutual Electric Company general manager Robert Delp and Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP) president and CEO Michael Hastings presented information about the merger plan and answered questions from the members at the special meeting held at the Geneseo High School auditorium. Delp reported that "We are very grateful for the support our members have given the board of directors and their recommendation to approve the plan of merger."

"The overwhelming approval by the members of Farmers Mutual Electric Company to merge with Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP) is a significant milestone in the history of both cooperatives," according to Tom Zwica, president of the board of directors of Farmers Mutual Electric Company. "The result of this merger will offer a level of assurance that quality service will be maintained, additional services provided and stable rates maintained."

The two cooperatives will proceed in earnest to close the transaction as soon as possible, according to Hastings. Jo-Carroll Energy is the surviving cooperative, with all Farmers Mutual Electric members becoming members of Jo-Carroll Energy.

"Once we close the transaction, we'll proceed immediately to implement the plan of merger, including updates in technology and payment of capital credits," Hastings noted. The plan calls for returning $936,000 in capital credits to the members of Farmers Mutual Electric over a two-year period.

The office in Geneseo will remain open and all current Farmers Mutual Electric employees will have the same or similar positions as they currently hold. Jo-Carroll Energy is headquartered in Elizabeth and also maintains an office in Savanna.

The two cooperatives worked on the merger plan for more than two years, Hastings noted. Both boards of directors voted unanimously to pursue the merger, and both formed due diligence committees that worked on the details and plans of merger.

Jo-Carroll Energy's bylaws do not require its members to vote on a merger with another cooperative.

Though the merger has been approved, Delp and Hastings emphasized that it is not complete. Both cooperatives will continue to operate as usual until further notice. Members of Farmers Mutual should continue to read their own meters, remit their payments to the co-op's Geneseo office, and call 309-944-4669 to report outages and ask questions.

As the cooperatives consolidate their operations, members will be updated on any changes to their service.

Members of both cooperatives will benefit from increased efficiencies, combining the talents and experience of employees from both cooperatives. Jo-Carroll Energy members will benefit from a stake in one of the newest, cleanest and most efficient power plants in the country through Prairie Power, Inc., the current generation and transmission cooperative serving Farmers Mutual Electric. This is important for long-term power supply planning of Jo-Carroll Energy.

Farmers Mutual Electric members will see a significant expansion in the number of services available to them, including wireless broadband Internet service, online bill pay, automated meter reading, budget billing, energy efficiency programs and discounts at local and national businesses through the Touchstone Energy Co-op Connections Card.

Farmers Mutual Electric Company is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative established on January 16, 1936. Farmers Mutual provides retail electric service to approximately 1,500 rural residential, agricultural and business consumers in the Henry and Whiteside counties of Illinois.

Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. (NFP) is a not-for-profit distribution cooperative owned and controlled by the members it has reliably served since 1939. Headquartered in Elizabeth, the cooperative currently serves more than 26,000 electric, natural gas and broadband internet accounts in Jo Daviess, Carroll and Whiteside counties.

Jo-Carroll Energy is a member of Touchstone Energy, an alliance of more than 700 member-owned electric utilities across the nation. Both cooperatives are members of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.