A Perfect Storm: Supply chain shortages, rising costs don’t weaken co-op’s commitment to service reliability

Cathy Davison is Roanoke Electric Co-op’s chief financial officer.

When the COVID pandemic hit the scene, we were delivered a brutal one-two punch across the globe; many of us were forced to pivot and create a new normal. Two years into this pandemic, Roanoke Electric continues to deliver reliable service in the face of unprecedented supply chain shortages and rising costs. As the co-op’s Chief Financial Officer, I recognize what I refer to as a “perfect storm” occurring in our industry. The pandemic not only spurred a heightened demand for reliable electric and high-speed internet services; it also hampered production of equipment and products required to meet these demands.

For Roanoke Electric and Roanoke Connect, the most significant shortages we’ve seen have been transformers, substation equipment, broadband equipment, and office supplies. The situation is made even more challenging by the costs for most of these items having increased significantly. Further, with the latest hike in fuel costs, we are starting to receive separate invoices for fuel and delivery charges.

Rest assured, despite these challenges, Roanoke Electric is committed to being good stewards of its finances; our member-owners’ money. We are committed to NOT compromise the integrity of our distribution system or the services our member-owners receive. Reliable service is paramount to us and our member owners. We will continue to ensure that we deliver on our commitment to our member-owners to provide reliable electric service as we have done since 1938.
The co-op has adjusted to our “new normal” by repurposing equipment where possible, budgeting for essential items only, collaborating with other co-ops when possible, and reducing controllable costs while still maintaining reliable service. We have also increased our efforts to work with local vendors for materials, equipment, supplies, and services, which also boosts the local economy.
If you are interested in being a vendor with the co-op, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your business, type of equipment, supplies and services you provide, and we will add you to our vendor list.
I foresee the supply chain issues continuing through the end of this year, if not beyond. However, I am confident that Roanoke Electric will continue to weather this “perfect storm” – a testament to our longstanding resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges.