Roanoke Electric Cooperative Hosted Straight Talk Forum on March 19; Discussed Important Co-op Information with Community Members
Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) hosted one of the 2015 Straight Talk forums at its Aulander headquarters on March 19.
The Straight Talk Forums allow an interactive dialogue between co-op members and the cooperative’s officials to discuss numerous topics important to meeting REC’s mission.
One of the topics discussed at the Straight Talk forum was home safety while outside.
Billy Yates, vice president of operations for REC said, “ “Before digging in your yard, call 811; they’ll locate your natural gas lines. Call the utility company to locate your utility line.”
Yates also stressed the importance of reading owner’s manuals of electric garden tools to ensure proper use and safety around power lines.
“Stay clear of power lines when working outside in your yard,” said Yates. “Before doing anything like trimming a tree or putting up a ladder, always check for power lines. Always stay at least ten feet away. If possible, use a fiberglass file.”
Another topic discussed at the forum was the findings from the most recent quarterly survey. Marshall Cherry, chief operating officer for REC, indicated there were three major challenges outlined in the survey results.
Cherry shed some light on one of the challenges REC is up against. While North Carolina itself is one of America’s fastest growing states, the population in northeastern North Carolina is dwindling. Therefore the expenses for the cooperative to operate its electric system is spread across fewer people.
““We have six customers for every mile of line,” said Cherry. “Larger utilities and city-owned systems have well above 40 customers per mile of line. REC has less members per mile of line to spread some of the fixed costs of our electric system.”
Cherry also explained how housing structure affects electric bills.
“On REC’s system, three out of ten homes are some type of mobile home, which is three times higher than the national average. Typically, a mobile home is harder to heat and cool, because the building material used is less well-insulated than a typical stick-built home. So, it takes both more heat in the winter and more air in the summer to make the home comfortable.”
Cherry also talked about the organization’s strides to manage wholesale power costs the organization pays to distribute electricity to its members.
“Sixty-four cents of every dollar we collect goes to power cost. We buy our electricity from generations and transmission providers of electricity.”
Staff also mentioned investments over the years into major system. “We’re above 99.9 percent reliability, meaning the availability of time to have our system operating at full capacity is almost 100 percent,” said Cherry.
Curtis Wynn, chief executive officer and president of REC, also use the forum as an opportunity to explain the “The Call to Serve” work plan, which benefits REC’s members. This work plan is based on feedback from multiple member surveys and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores the cooperative received. Wynn shared with the attendees the strategy map that was developed from this feedback, and the goals REC is striving to meet to enhance the co-op’s core values and to improve member satisfaction.
Wynn also discussed REC’s solar energy program, “Community Solar.”
“When we built the solar power plant, we found that solar energy is free over time,” said Wynn. “There’s an investment you must make, though.
Members have two choices with solar energy -- basically, either take care of everything yourself or participate in the Community Solar program.
“The first choice is high, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, to get those panels at your home,” said Wynn. “With Community Solar, we have 360 panels available to members. It’s a low-cost investment. You can subscribe to ten panels, and you can get a credit. It takes about thirteen years for members to see a return on their investment.”
Other co-op projects and initiatives were discussed at the program, including the “Upgrade to $ave” program, a new program that finances cost effective energy efficiency improvements for REC members while helping to promote local qualified contractors. The “Bright Savings” programs was also discussed, and Wynn outlined how REC is deploying more energy efficient outdoor Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights to all of our members over the next two years. To find a schedule of future Straight Talk Forums, please visit www.roanokeelectric.com/content/straight-talk.
Roanoke Electric Cooperative is an electric utility providing service to 14,000 people in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan Counties. To learn more about the numerous exciting initiatives they have on tap, please visit www.roanokeelectric.com/thecall2018.