CEO Message – August 2022

Ready to serve, rain or shine

Les Moreland headshotOn Oct. 10, 2018, 68 mph winds tore through our communities, snapping over 500 power poles and knocking out electricity to 85% of our members. Hurricane Michael spent a few hours destroying what this cooperative had spent years building. The scope of damage was beyond anything I’d ever seen in my career.

Springing Into Action

Allen Langford, Plant Specialist, helps assemble a new pole. WEC is constantly building and rebuilding its distribution system to serve you better.

If there was a time to feel lost, that moment would have been it. Instead, your cooperative sprang into action the moment the winds died down.

Over 9 days, crews rebuilt 60 miles of electric service, restoring power to 18,000 people. We didn’t do it alone. More than 200 helpers from cooperatives all across Alabama showed up to work long hours and sleep on cots to give you and I electricity again.

We were able to move quickly and decisively because we had a plan. Hurricane Michael was devastating, and we were surprised, but no one was unprepared. The same is true today. Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting above-normal activity this year.

We pray to avoid hurricanes, but we are ready to respond should one arrive. Our Emergency Operations Plan, outlining the specific roles played by each department before, during and after a storm, is revisited regularly.

I hope you practice preparedness with your own family. On Page 8 of this magazine you’ll find an article featuring simple tips to help weather a large storm. After Hurricane Michael, we were able to restore power to large areas of our membership quickly. But, because of the extensive damage, some were out for over a week. Are you prepared, today, for a week without electricity?

Service Through Preparedness

Preparedness is one of the central ways we serve. Some plans start years before a storm ever hits — for example, our right-of-way maintenance program. This crew cycles through our entire service area trimming limbs away from power lines. This work can stop an outage, or keep multiple outages from being even worse.

Planning extends beyond storms. Our cooperative diligently plans the electric system which powers our homes and businesses. We look at population growth and anticipate the needs of our members so we can continue to provide affordable, reliable electricity.

When we see a new need in our area, we develop a new plan to help. Our partnership
to bring fiber optic internet service to the Wiregrass took months of work, but today we’re seeing the fruits of that labor.

More broadly, we’re always planning new ways to serve and improve the Wiregrass. On Pages 6-7 of this issue, you’ll read about WEC donating the labor and materials to light up multiple flag football fields. These lights are going to help hundreds of people come together to enjoy a competitive sport and their community.

Serving our members and living out our cooperative mission looks very different depending on the day. Some days, our linemen are responding to historic damage after a Category 5 hurricane. On another day, those same linemen are stringing lines to help our kids enjoy a new flag football field. And I firmly believe that both are all part of the plan.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative