Wiregrass Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees members have proposed several changes to the cooperative’s bylaws in 2021. The changes can be classified into three categories: board nomination and meeting procedure changes, word usage updates, and punctuation corrections.
Thomas Edison, who invented the first long-lasting light bulb, once said, “We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” Despite all the issues that occurred in 2020, all of us at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative believe we have had a fairly fortunate year.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic caused some hardships for some of our members, our dedicated employees worked closely with those affected to minimize the impacts. When several rounds of severe weather struck in April, our dedicated linemen restored power to thousands of our members in less than 24 hours following each major event. We even sent our line crews to assist other cooperatives with their restoration efforts during these storms after we had restored power to our members.
We realize that in many ways, we are blessed to live where we do. But we also believe the dedication and forethought of our employees helped mitigate the impacts the storms and pandemic had on our cooperative.
WEC has a longstanding policy of assisting members in difficult financial times. From arranging payments to providing a list of organizations that provide utility bill assistance, our member services representatives are prepared and empowered to lend a helping hand. As an extra courtesy, they even call members to notify them that their bills are approaching disconnection-of-service status. These calls dramatically reduce the amount of members who reach past-due status every single month.
Our linemen and those who support them in the warehouse are highly trained, knowledgeable, and dutiful. Coupled with WEC’s investment in new technologies, we can respond to outages of all sizes rapidly and safely — reducing the negative impact our valued members experience.
Our accounting staff works diligently to ensure every dollar is spent wisely. This often manifests itself in capital credits and power cost adjustments — money that goes directly back into our members’ pockets.
Because WEC employees and leadership embrace the motto “The Wiregrass Way: Just Enough Isn’t Enough,” we’re prepared to assist our members in hurricanes and pandemics or when everyday issues arise. We believe this plays a role in some of our good fortune. At Wiregrass Electric, we’re “Serving in emergencies. Serving always.”
We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation. Thomas Edison
Your Board of Trustees
Serving with Actions
Wiregrass Electric Cooperative always strives to keep a clean and safe working environment for its employees and the members who visit any of our four offices. As the coronavirus pandemic impacted our area, WEC placed an extra emphasis on this goal — largely thanks to the help of our member services representatives.
Our MSRs kept cleaning supplies on hand and often wiped down service counters throughout each day. They also frequently cleaned our self-pay kiosks.
As government entities required widespread business closures, in the months of March and April, our WEC offices had to briefly close; however, we were still able to process payments, though, thanks to our dedicated MSRs who manned our drive-thru windows. While our website became the safest option to pay bills, WEC was glad to offer another payment alternative.
Many members managed to pay their electric bills on time, but some lost jobs at the height of the pandemic. Our member services team utilized longstanding practices to arrange payment schedules or inform members of organizations that provide utility bill assistance to those in need.
Whether it’s during a nationwide crisis or with individual economic struggles, our MSRs have the knowledge, compassion, and capability to present solutions that benefit both the member and the cooperative as a whole.
Serving with Communication
Wiregrass Electric Cooperative used many platforms to communicate how it would respond to its members’ needs when the coronavirus began to make a major impact nationally.
Between mid-March and mid-April, WEC created more than 20 Facebook posts that documented our pandemic response efforts. Local TV stations WTVY and WDHN also featured some of our efforts to support members and the community abroad, which we also broadcast on our social media channels.
The May editions of Alabama Living and My Hometown Power highlighted how our member services representatives assisted members with payment arrangements during the challenging pandemic season. The stories also emphasized our cleaning efforts before the shutdown occurred.
As businesses closed due to government mandates, we immediately offered our support. Our social media posts highlighted the many local, state, and national funding sources that benefited businesses. We also created a coronavirus resource webpage that provided several links to where businesses — and individuals — could obtain assistance.
As the pandemic lingered into the summer, the WEC board of trustees decided to turn the 2020 annual meeting into a virtual one. The considerable departure from the traditional format required effective communication. On several platforms, members were encouraged to vote by mail and to watch the business meeting via live stream.
In less eventful years, these communication platforms still inform our members of important events and wonderful stories that inspire. From highlighting businesses that make a worldwide impact like Dothan’s Jeffers Pet Supply to educating members on our latest broadband expansion efforts, our social media pages, and print publications allow our members to stay well informed.
Serving in the Sun
The effectiveness of our storm response ties directly into our daily efforts to strengthen the power grid.
Our right of way program eliminates trees, limbs, and other vegetation that could threaten our utility poles and power lines during storms. We contract with Osmose to identify poles that have suffered a lot of wear, and our crews replace those based on Osmose’s recommendations.
Our linemen’s attention to detail on daily tasks also ensures that our members’ lights always stay on. Working safely reduces the amount of man-hours lost to injury, which means we complete more projects that bolster the grid.
Serving in Storms
Mother Nature raged with great fury through several storm systems in April and in a few outbursts during the summer months.
Our linemen and operations staff answered the call with incredible responses each time. On two occasions in April, storm systems triggered more than 1,000 outages at one time. The worst storm created about 2,500 outages at its peak.
Despite the widespread nature of these large-scale outages, our employees relied on their extensive training, knowledge, and dedication to the job. Our crews worked so quickly that all of our outages were fixed in less than 24 hours following each storm system.
On both occasions, our linemen willingly lent helping hands the very next day to neighboring cooperatives who suffered major damage. Their efforts should make every WEC member beam with pride.
Serving through Giving
With some in our communities suffering from the pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of several businesses, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative embraced several opportunities to give back to the community.
Immediately our Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation board approved $1,000 donations to the Geneva County Food Pantry and the Wiregrass Area Food Bank ahead of increased demand for their services. The shutdown forced the cancellation of our annual Youth Tour banquet, but WEC still purchased the food to support a local restaurant. The food was then donated to The Ark ministry in Dothan, which provides food, shelter, and other needs for the destitute.
ORU’s charitable contributions occurred year-round, though. We made a large donation to the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine clinic in Ashford, which helped them purchase equipment and supplies. Recently ORU has also made large donations to help improve athletic facilities and band programs at local high schools.
ORU also presented 22 scholarships to deserving youth in 2020, including three who are pursuing careers as electrical linemen. We also partnered with WTVY-FM to present Teacher of the Month awards to deserving educators. WEC presented the teachers’ school supplies for their classrooms through this effort.
In one other partnership, WTVY-TV helped us present Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass awards to deserving community contributors. ORU presented $1,000 checks to all the winners, and most reinvested the money into projects that benefited others.
Serving through Education
In addition to our charitable contributions to education, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative provides its own educational opportunities.
Our Education Power Station visits groups of all ages year-round. Our linemen use the replicas of underground transformers and overhead power lines to teach people how to safely interact with the grid on a daily basis and during emergencies. They also use demonstrations to educate the public about the many aspects of their jobs.
WEC also participates in the annual Southeast Worlds of Work Career Expo, which invites thousands of eighth-graders from three states to explore different career opportunities. This provides us another opportunity to educate the public about electrical safety while perhaps inspiring the next generation to consider the electrical lineman trade.
Our website offers a variety of electrical safety and energy conservation tips.
We also routinely include electrical safety and storm safety tips in our My Hometown Power newsletters, which arrive with our members’ monthly bills.
Serving More than Electricity: Broadband
In 2018 Wiregrass Electric Cooperative partnered with Troy Cable to bring broadband internet service to areas where it wasn’t available. While the necessity of broadband service was evident then, it became even more vitally important as the pandemic struck. While some businesses shut down completely, others continued operating as long as their employees worked from home. Schools also tried to finish their final semesters with online classes. That increased the demands on internet bandwidth from providers nationwide.
These adjustments highlighted the digital divide — while some people have great internet access, some have poor service, and others none at all. This makes efforts like Broadband for the Wiregrass essential for our area moving forward.
We’ve already had victories. For the second consecutive year, the partnership earned a major state grant — worth $1.3 million — to expand access across our territory. In all, through our BroadBand for the Wiregrass effort with Troy Cable, nearly 7,500 members will now have high-speed internet access — most of them for the very first time.
Serving through Efficiency
Wiregrass Electric Cooperative strives every day to ensure electrical service remains affordable, and those efforts serve our members’ pocketbooks well.
Both the capital credits and power cost adjustment programs have returned millions of dollars to WEC members in the past decade. WEC sets aside capital credits for members when the cooperative, which is a not-for-profit organization, has margins that exceed expenditures. WEC also awards power cost adjustments when the wholesale costs to purchase power from a distributor are lower than budgeted amounts.
During the history of the cooperative, the board has retired more than $14 million in capital credits. Since the PCA program began in 2010, WEC has returned more than $10 million to its members.
Our accountants work tirelessly to ensure that our members’ money is used efficiently on a daily basis. And they also shine following natural disasters.
That department’s detailed and accurate documentation and its efforts following Hurricane Michael in 2018 ensured that WEC earned all of the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements it was entitled to following the Category 5 storm.
Clockwise from top left: Accountant Matt Storey, Accounting Clerk Kathleen Kurihara, Accountant Mark Olive, and Accountant Misti Dixon.
Construction Work in Progress
Total Utility Plant
Less: Accumulated Depreciation
Net Utility Plant
Other Assets and Investments
Investments in Associated Organizations
Economic Development Notes Receivable
Total Other Assets and Investments
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Accounts receivable: Customers, Less Provision for Doubtful Accounts of $51,948 in 2019 and $50,978 in 2018
Accounts receivable: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Accounts receivable: Other Accounts Receivable
Materials and Supplies
Other Current and Accrued Assets
Total Current Assets
Work Plan and Preliminary Charges
Total Deferred Charges
Statements of revenue and patronage capital are for the years ended April 30, 2020, and 2019.
Equities and Liabilities
Mortgage Notes Payable, Net of Current Maturities
Capital Lease Obligations
Total Long-Term Liabilities
Current Maturities on Mortgage Notes Payable
Current Maturities on Capital Lease Obligations
Accounts Payable: Trade
Accrued Liabilities: Taxes
Other Accrued Liabilities
Total Current Liabilities
Total Equities and Liabilities
Statements of revenue and patronage capital are for the years ended April 30, 2020, and 2019.
Statement of Revenue
Revenue From Contracts With Customer
Cost of Power
Distribution – Operations
Distribution – Maintenance
Consumer Accounts Expense
Administrative and General
Total Operating Expenses
Fixed Charges: Interest Expense
Operating Margins After Fixed Charges
G&T and Other Capital Credits
Net Operating Margins:
Nonoperating margins: Interest Income
Net Margins for the Year
WEC Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation
Statement of Financial Position
Without Donor Restriction
Total Liabilities and Net Assets
Statement of Activities
Change in Net Assets
Net Assets At Beginning of Year
Net Assets At End of Year
Statement of Cash Flows
Cash Flows From (Used For) Operating Activities
Change in Net Assets
Adjustments to Reconcile Change in Net Assets to Net Cash From (Used For) Operating Activities Decrease (Increase) in Operating Liabilities