Operation RoundUp awards nearly $13,000 in support of community efforts

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op debuts first rapid charging station for electric vehicles

Roanoke Electric Cooperative unveiled its first rapid charging station for electric vehicles in its service territory this week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Halifax, N.C.  The co-op purchased the cutting-edge, three-phase power charger, which has been deployed at the Oasis Travel Center a truck stop near Exit 168, off Interstate 95.

Called the EdgeEV70, this type of fast charging station is a rarity in the northeastern region of the state. It can provide EVs a full battery charge in approximately 30 minutes versus four to six hours provided by a lower-phase charging station. EdgeEnergy, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Single Phase Power Solutions LLC., manufactured and installed the power source at the truck stop, located at 10401 Route 903 in Halifax.

“On behalf of the region’s EV owners, local businesses that will benefit from increased traffic, and motorists passing through the area, the co-op is thrilled to bring this innovative and – in our region – extremely rare technology to fruition,” said Curtis Wynn, the co-op’s  president and chief executive officer. “Rapid EV charging stations are few and far between in northeastern North Carolina. The ribbon-cutting reflects our determination to bring more clean energy resources to this part of the state to help retain its beauty and accelerate its economic growth.”

More than 50 community leaders attended the April 13  unveiling ceremony, including Cathy Scott, executive director of the Halifax County Economic Development Commission.

She said the new charging station addresses a major concern of EV drivers, who feared running out of power between charging stations along this 1-95 corridor. Having this new option so easily accessible for EV drivers is a major step toward advancing economic development and tourism in the region, she told the crowd.

Like other local representatives, Scott expressed gratitude for the co-op’s bold efforts to meet the critical needs of the community it serves.  “If you look at Roanoke Electric Cooperative and what they continue to do, from electricity to broadband to vehicle charging, you really are a visionary and a pioneer.”

For more information about the co-op’s special offerings for electric vehicle owners, contact Anita Knight at 252-209-2243.  For additional information about the charging station visit www.sppowersolutions.com or call 877-430-5634.  

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

April 12: ‘Thank a Line Worker’

If you were asked to associate an image or a person with our electric co-op, I bet you would picture a line technician. One of the most visible co-op employees, these folks work tirelessly to ensure our community receives power, 24/7.

“Line worker” is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. This is understandable as they perform detailed tasks near high-voltage power lines. Our line technicians undergo extensive training and follow numerous protocols to ensure safety as they work to maintain our lines and restore power, often in very treacherous conditions.

As you can imagine, being a line technician is not a glamorous or easy profession. Regardless of the time of day or hazardous weather conditions, line techs must sometimes climb 40 feet in the air, often carrying heavy equipment to get the job done.  The ongoing pandemic added another hazardous factor to an already risky job, but that did not stop them from rising to the challenge.

In addition to years of specialized training, this job requires dedication, as well as a sense of service and commitment. How else can you explain the willingness to leave the comfort of your home to restore power in difficult conditions? This is truly what sets them apart.

In addition to serving their own communities, our crew also answer the call  to provide aid across the state and nation following major storms and other times of need.

While line techs may be the most visible, it’s also worth noting that there is a team of highly skilled professionals that support their efforts behind the scenes. Engineers provide ongoing expertise and guidance on the operations side of the co-op. Member service representatives are always standing by to take your calls and questions. Our information technology experts are continuously monitoring our system to help safeguard sensitive data.

Our dedicated and beloved line techs are proud to represent our co-op, and they deserve all the appreciation and accolades that come their way on line worker Appreciation Day, April 12.  Today, please join me and the rest of the co-op team by taking the time to thank them for their exceptional service.

Jimmy Liverman is Roanoke Electric Co-op’s vice-president of operations. 

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op leaders attend virtual Rally in Raleigh to discuss member-owner issues

Roanoke Electric Co-op representatives recently joined other local co-ops to speak with elected officials during this year’s Rally in Raleigh.  The Rally in Raleigh is an annual event led by North Carolina Electric Cooperatives to allow electric co-ops in the state the opportunity to connect with legislators at the General Assembly to discuss policy issues concerning electric co-ops, their member-owners, and communities. Many of Roanoke Electric Co-op’s executive management team and board of directors were able to attend.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s Rally went virtual from March 16 through March 19 rather than meeting in person in Raleigh.

“It is always a pleasure to speak with our elected officials on topics that affect the way we serve our membership,” said Curtis Wynn, president and CEO of the co-op.  “While this year’s meeting was virtual, our message remains strong regarding our member-owners’ needs.  As we are advocates for affordable, reliable, environmentally conscious electric power and economic development for the state’s rural and suburban regions.”

Issues addressed included: bringing much needed broadband to our member-owners and the region, disallowing major broadband providers’ efforts to shift their special interest energy policy proposals that might adversely impact our members-owners, and providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to our member-owners.

“Over the years, we’ve built relationships with our legislators based on trust,” Wynn continued.  “This is why elected officials look to us as a trusted, source of feedback on rural issues that matter to the folks back home.”

Legislators that virtually met with the co-op’s board and staff included Representative Ed Goodwin, Representative Howard Hunter III, Representative Michael Wray, Senator Ernestine Bazemore, Senator Milton Fitch, Jr., and Senator Bob Steinburg.

“I would like to thank our co-op board, our staff and our neighboring co-ops for the critical discussions with our state lawmakers,” Wynn concluded.

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Connect News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

North Carolina Electric Cooperative Aims To Make New Technologies Accessible To All

National Public Radio “Weekend Edition Sunday”

by Dan Charles

March 21, 2021

In rural North Carolina, an electric cooperative is reliving its New Deal history, bringing technologies like electric cars and broadband Internet to isolated communities struggling with poverty.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The U.S. is making plans for a massive shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. But with those plans come worries that the changes won’t be equitable, that wealthy people will get their electric cars and energy efficient technology while the poor will get left behind. In rural North Carolina, NPR’s Dan Charles visited one man who’s trying to keep that from happening, carrying on a legacy of the New Deal.

DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: Alvin Morrison was a young man in the 1930s, just married, farming in central North Carolina.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALVIN MORRISON: We wanted to have electricity, but it was not available.

CHARLES: He told his story in 1984, part of an oral history collection. A small town seven miles away had electricity, so three men from Morrison’s community went to talk to the electric company there, Duke Power. The company’s executives said they could extend their power lines out to a main road close to some of the farmers. But the delegation had a question.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORRISON: They ask them, will you serve the entire community? They said no. And the wealthier farmers living on the road who could have gotten it would not accept. They said if you don’t serve the entire community, we won’t have it.

CHARLES: So instead, Morrison and his neighbors voted for something new, a rural electric cooperative owned by its members, jumpstarted with loans from the government. Then power lines arrived, electric lights, radios, indoor plumbing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORRISON: It’s almost indescribable, but it just gave us new visions into what we thought we could do, what we would be able to do.

CHARLES: When Morrison was helping to organize this cooperative, he says, a local businessman told him, what you’re doing is socialism.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MORRISON: And I replied, if it is socialism, it is good socialism. And I like it.

CHARLES: Rural electric cooperatives are still around, hundreds of them. In eastern North Carolina, there’s Roanoke Electric Cooperative. It serves small towns where main streets sometimes are lined with empty storefronts. Twenty percent of the people here earn less than the poverty level. The Cooperative’s president is Curtis Wynn.

CURTIS WYNN: It’s an important entity, in an area we’re serving where other people have decided to abandon.

CHARLES: When Wynn was a teenager in Florida’s panhandle, he thought working for the local electric co-op looked a lot better than what he’d been doing – cleaning big silos to store peanuts. He took over as president of Roanoke Electric 24 years ago, the first African American to run a rural electric cooperative anywhere in the country. And he’s on a mission to help his neighbors experience today’s new visions.

WYNN: I can see a day when this co-op will have almost every vehicle here will be an electric vehicle.

CHARLES: There’s one electric car here now, a Nissan Leaf, hooked up to a special kind of charger that can send power both ways. It can charge the battery or use the battery to power Roanoke’s headquarters. Imagine a fleet of electric buses hooked up this way, Wynn says, a huge electricity reservoir storing solar when the sun is shining and releasing it after dark.

WYNN: So we’re looking ahead to the day that we will be able to draw on that power.

CHARLES: Pretty cutting-edge stuff here in…

WYNN: Ahoskie, N.C. Yes, sir. Yeah.

CHARLES: Inside the warehouse next door, there are racks of equipment for Wynn’s latest passion – connecting homes to high-speed fiber optic Internet. This is just like back in the New Deal, Wynn says, stringing wires to people who need them.

WYNN: No one else would do it then. And no one else seems to want to do it now. And here we are again.

CHARLES: Another big initiative – the cooperative’s paying for energy-saving upgrades in its members’ homes like Calvin Bond’s double-wide mobile home on a gravel road outside the town of Windsor.

CALVIN BOND: They replaced all of their light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.

CHARLES: Yeah, the LEDs, yeah.

BOND: It’s all of those bulbs that they’ve replaced.

CHARLES: Bond’s electric bill used to get up to $500 a month. He was paying hundreds more for propane heating in the winter. Not anymore.

BOND: Everything underneath the house has been replaced – new ductwork, new crossovers and this nice new unit here.

CHARLES: So this is the heat pump?

BOND: Yes.

CHARLES: So this is now your heating and cooling?

BOND: Heating and cooling, yes.

CHARLES: It’s cutting his bills so much Bond can split the savings with Roanoke Electric and they both come out ahead. That’s what Curtis Wynn usually emphasizes talking about these programs, that they save money, improve quality of life. But heat pumps on electric cars and fast Internet also are part of most plans for getting off fossil fuels, fighting climate change.

WYNN: Yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing because it’s a sustainable model, and it has – above all, it has an inclusive component to it.

CHARLES: There’s this myth, Wynn says, that people with modest incomes don’t have much use for electric cars and LED lighting and the latest heating systems. He says we try to dispel that myth all the time.

Dan Charles, NPR News.

Roanoke Connect News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Roanoke Electric Co-op kicks off new Power Hour webinar series

Roanoke Electric Co-op will kick-off of its new Power Hour webinar series March 18 at 6 p.m., with the focus on COVID-19: What you need to know about available vaccines and how to cope with the pandemic’s lingering emotional impact.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought to bear increased levels of anxiety and stress among many of us. These have taken a toll not only on our physical well-being, but also on our mental health.  In this presentation, Dr. T. Brent Chafin of Vidant Roanoke Chowan Hospital will offer valuable coping mechanisms to help preserve your peace of mind during the nation’s long road to recovery.

From a clinical perspective, the doctor will also debunk some of the myths about the current supply of vaccines to underscore the importance of getting vaccinated.

Also, as part of the webinar, co-op representatives will provide an update on Roanoke Connect and other co-op programs and services.

To join the webinar use the information below:

Microsoft Teams meetingJoin on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 980-701-9168,,692286090#   United States, Charlotte

Phone Conference ID: 692 286 090#

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Parting thoughts: Reflections of outgoing Board President Curtis Wynn

It did not end as I had envisioned. There was no audience of thousands of co-op leaders. No bright lights. No stage. No ceremonial passing of the gavel to my predecessor. No rounds of applause.

My role as board president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association  ended without such traditional fanfare. It was just me, sitting in my office, wearing my Sunday best.  With framed cherished memories as a backdrop and a lone cameraman standing before me, I recently bid my virtual farewell.

My presidency will go down in the annals of history like no other. Not only was I the first African American to serve in this role in the association’s 80-year existence, but I was also the first to do so despite the unprecedented disruptions of a global pandemic.

When I walked into this role, I entered as an ambassador for change. Derived from my experience at Roanoke Electric, I recognized the need for the nation’s co-op leaders to loosen the reigns on the status quo and embrace the changes of a rapidly evolving industry. My priority was to take advantage of tools we have as cooperatives and pave the way for the adoption of the technological advances that stood to redefine the energy market.

Then, about midway through my presidency, societal challenges flipped the script.

The death of George Floyd. The subject of police brutality. The symbols and acts of prevailing racism in America. The groundswell of national and global protests. The birth of The Black Lives Matter movement…

All of this, for me, was the tipping point.

At that moment in time, I came to terms with another pressing call to action. And my rallying cry for the nation’s electric cooperatives to embrace the tenets of diversity, equity and inclusion grew stronger in its resolve and bolder in its approach.

My message was clear and without apology: We, as the nation’s co-op leaders, need to step up. My call for inclusive transformation did not fall on deaf ears, and courageous steps in the right direction followed.

On the national level, NRECA propelled their Advancing Energy Access For All initiative, a collaborative platform in which members can leverage the experiences and best practices aimed at meeting the needs of all members, including those who struggle to pay their bills. Co-op leaders emerged as strong advocates and collaborators in that program. Today, there about 10 electric co-ops actively embracing the concept, and I am seeing signs of this gaining traction.

Roanoke Electric was a major catalyst for pushing that through, based on the innovative and inclusive work we have done to help ease the energy burdens on our members. Most notably, our SolarShare program, which leverages our community solar program to provide energy benefits to members who struggle financially. This initiative ensures our members, who do not qualify for the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades offered through the co-op’s Upgrade to $ave program, are no longer left out of the equation.

Under my leadership, the NRECA membership recently passed a diversity, equity and inclusion resolution.  It urges NRECA “to encourage the ideals of diversity, equity,

and inclusion (DEI) and demonstrate to its members the value and business advantages of understanding and incorporating DEI into their business practices to achieve greater member-owner loyalty and increased member-owner satisfaction.”

Looking back, I knew the evolutionary changes I envisioned would not play out on cue. But I believe, we were able to put in place enough markers to ensure lasting, impactful change beyond my presidency. The DEI resolution is certainly one of those markers.

Today, I am thankful for the opportunity and the overwhelming show of support and encouragement during the past two years. For someone, whose career began washing co-op trucks, this experience was both memorable and transformative. It opened my eyes to new and innovative ways of doing things and exposed me to resources I would have never known. I now get to bring all this back home for the greater good of my membership. And for that, I am most grateful.

So, hold the applause. From where I stand, the curtain did not close on the rapid pace of industry transformation and the need to fully embrace DEI so electric co-ops can, not only keep pace with industry transformation, but also bring along all of our member-owners in the process. In some ways, it began anew.

With so much at stake, the show must go on.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Forestry Project’s webinar underscores importance of estate planning

“Absolutely fantastic!” “Great workshop!” “I learned a lot in a short time.” “One of the best webinars I’ve ever attended.”

These are just a few of the comments made by participants following the Estate Planning/Heirs Property  Feb. 24-25 webinar.

Approximately 100 people from a dozen states participated in the event, presented by the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project .

Presenters shared examples of legal problems and family strife that often emerge  when property owners pass away without a will or other legal instruments indicating what they want for the future of their property. .

Participants also learned of the importance of aligning their efforts to generate revenue from their land with the property’s natural characteristics. The presentations also shed light on the   devastating woodland loss among African Americans over the past century, resulting not only from discrimination and unscrupulous practices, but also from the lack of effective estate planning.

“Typically, people don’t think about estate planning until the death of a family member who didn’t have one. That can cause a lot of family division and strife.,” said attorney Pamela Harrigan-Young of Raleigh. “It is very important to think about what scenarios could occur if you don’t have a will in place.”

Harrigan-Young detailed the different types of estate planning documents and emphasized the importance of customizing the tools to individual circumstances. For example, it should recognize the need for someone who is an agent under a healthcare power of attorney to be on speaking terms, at a minimum, with the party responsible for financial decisions.

“It can sometimes be overwhelming and even painful to have discussions about estate planning, but we can’t ignore the importance of keeping land in our family’s legacy,” said attorney Mavis Gragg, director of the American Forest Foundation’s Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Program.

Noting her own experience as an inheritor of land, Gragg urged participants to make a family tree as a vital first step toward addressing heirs’ property issues. She counseled participants to be “very inclusive” in identifying potential heirs,  including adopted family members, in-laws and even non-blood relatives who might be considered “family.”

Only after creating a family tree should one retain an attorney to develop a chronology of property ownership, Gragg suggested. This will help families avoid incurring exorbitant legal fees.

Margaret Conrad and Peg Kohring, both land management experts with The Conservation Fund – a nonprofit environmental organization based in northern Virginia – led the webinar’s second session. They discussed leases, deeds and other legal mechanisms that govern land use, and identified opportunities to leverage one’s property to generate income.

“Leasing your land is a great source of supplemental income,” Conrad said. Other opportunities range from raking and selling long-leaf pine straw to selling credits that companies are willing to pay to offset their carbon emissions.

Kohring counseled landowners to walk their property with consulting foresters or other experts to identify the most feasible income opportunities appropriate to the property.

Since 2103, Roanoke Electric Cooperative has cosponsored the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project. to . Logistical support this webinar was provided by the N.C. State Extension Forestry. The webinar was made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Bar Foundation.

Webinar presentations can be seen here.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Notice: Co-op changes mail-in payment process

To streamline its billing procedures, Roanoke Electric Co-op is outsourcing its check-processing center to a new location in Birmingham, Ala.

This move is being made so that the co-op’s Member Services Team can address the  calls and concerns of member-owners in a timelier manner.

If mailing a payment, member-owners are urged to allow a few extra days when mailing payments, prior to the due date.

Member-owners can also make payments conveniently via the following payment methods:

  • Mobile App: Download our mobile app by texting “Roanoke” to 797979 and pay your bill from your mobile device.
  • Text: Text “PAY” to 352667.
  • Online: Pay your bill anytime, anywhere! This option is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, giving you unlimited access to your account payments from any computer or mobile device.
  •  Phone: Would you rather dial in to make your payment? You can also call our office at 252-209-2236 and make a payment with your credit card through our automated customer service system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Auto-Pay: Make managing your payments that much easier! Set up payments in advance of your due date to be withdrawn automatically from your card.
  • Bank Draft: You can also set up your electric bill payments to automatically draft from your bank account. Simply call us at 252-209-2236 to speak with a member service representative to make arrangements.
  • Pay Sites: The co-op also offers convenient bill-pay stations throughout our service area. Member-owners may pay their utility bill by cash. There is no charge for these transactions,  which can be processed at the following locations:
    • Roanoke Electric Co-op: 518 NC Highway 561 West, Ahoskie, NC 27910
    • The Roanoke Center: 409 N. Main Street, Rich Square, NC 27869
    • Rich Square Market: 508 S Main Street, Rich Square, NC 27869
    • Self Help Credit Union: 302 W Granville St, Windsor, NC 27983
    • Gates Food Market: 3 US Highway 58 West, Gatesville, NC 27938
    • Green Store: 4170 NC Highway 48, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Roanoke Electric Newsroom

SBA Working Capital Loans Available in Northeastern North Carolina Following Secretary of Agriculture Disaster Declaration

Release Date: March 5, 2021                                  Contact: Michael Lampton (404) 331-0333        Michael.Lampton@sba.gov

Release Number: 21- 272, NC 16887                     Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs & Instagram

 

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and private nonprofit organizations in North Carolina due to excessive rain from Aug. 3 to Nov. 30, 2020.

Low-interest disaster loans are available in the counties of Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton and Warren in North Carolina.

“When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to eligible entities,
affected by the same disaster,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster.  Except for aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers.

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations of all sizes, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.  These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.  The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov and should apply under SBA declaration # 16887, not for the COVID-19 incident.

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Loan application forms can be downloaded from sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Submit completed loan applications to SBA no later than Nov. 1, 2021.

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About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit sba.gov.