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Board Chairman’s Corner

Each year, the president of the United States delivers a State of the Union to America’s citizens. Consider this a State of the Cooperative on where Tipmont is, how we got here, and where we’re going.

I’m no hockey fan, but I’ve heard this Wayne Gretzky fellow was pretty good. In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins says Gretzky’s greatness came from knowing where the puck would go, not just where it was. Gretzky knew where he needed to be.

Collins also says success only comes from pairing vision with hard work. With that in mind, I’m happy to report Tipmont is a hard-working organization in a good place! We’ve come a long way in the last decade.

Our members generally have two electricity expectations:

  1. Lights come on when they flip a switch; and
  2. Reasonable prices.

For too long, Tipmont prioritized affordability over reliability. Sometimes the lights didn’t come on.

Consider this: Your roof leaks, but you only replace one bundle of shingles a year. That will take you 75 years. After that, is your roof done or just 75 years old? In 2013, Tipmont’s 75th anniversary, we replaced a pole in service since 1938! Tipmont fell behind in its commitment to address substandard infrastructure.

So we substantially increased our infrastructure investment, added or rebuilt substations for efficiency, and strategically engineered our power routing. Tipmont now boasts one of America’s most resilient systems; most outages come from a disruption in delivery of power to us. Plus, it’s still a good value for your investment.

We’re also no longer just your electric company. We’re your internet provider. Why take on a project of such scope and cost? You asked us to. Inequitable internet access is leaving rural Indiana behind. You have a right to the same quality of life as anyone else. And if no one else will offer it to you, we will.

I remember learning about fiber internet like it was yesterday. Former Tipmont board member Jerry Peevler, President & CEO Ron Holcomb and I were at a conference where they spoke a strange new language. While Ron was fluent, Jerry and I began building our vocabulary. We came home confident that fiber internet was the way to go and Tipmont could provide it. Like Gretzky, we knew where the puck was going to go.

We connected substations with fiber. We aggressively pursued millions in grant funding to cut our build completion timeline from 2028 to 2024. In 2019, we made our most meaningful move — acquiring Wintek, a trusted local technology titan, to develop first-class fiber infrastructure. Without that, Tipmont would not be as far along today. I know I wouldn’t be enjoying high-speed fiber internet in Fountain County.

The tremendous group of people across Tipmont helps us navigate this road to greatness … and all of its curves and bumps. One such bump is an unexpected electric rate increase prompted by unreasonable decisions from our current power provider. You can learn more here, but I want you to know: This only strengthens our board’s resolve to keep fighting for you. Doing the right thing is sometimes difficult. I’m proud to lead alongside a group that never backs down from doing what’s right for you, especially when it’s hard.

Going back to Collins: Success comes from persistent hard work and ambitious vision. At Tipmont, the State of the Cooperative is strong!

Robert Baker

Robert Baker

Robert Baker has been a member of the Tipmont board since 2003 and a past chairman and director representing Tipmont on the Wabash Valley Power Alliance board for eight years. Originally from Illinois, Baker holds bachelor’s, master’s, and education specialist degrees from Eastern Illinois University. He also holds a doctorate in school administration. His hobbies include a passion for horses and hunting.

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April 2, 2024
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