Embracing the future
Living in the Wiregrass certainly has its perks. We enjoy warm weather almost year-round, we have great football in the region, and tremendous people live here.
Being so close to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches has obvious benefits, too. On the other hand, this provides potential challenges for a utility whose territory begins just an hour north of the Gulf of Mexico.
Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) and its members recently experienced one of those challenges. Tropical Storm Fred delivered a direct strike to the Wiregrass area as its center passed over Houston County on August 16.
While it certainly was not as destructive as Hurricane Michael, Fred created plenty of work for us. However, the storm also presented us an opportunity to show the quality of people who live in the area and who are employed here.
When Tropical Storm Fred first formed, computer models forecast that it would make landfall in the Apalachee Bay and stay mostly to the east of us. As time passed, the models shifted the landfall vastly to the west — even as far west as Mobile County.
Eventually, the forecasts focused on our area. Despite the wild variations in the projections, our engineering and operations staff monitored Fred’s progress from the very start. This ensured our staff was prepared for a potential landfall and that we had enough material on hand to address any potential outages.
Of course, the day Fred made landfall was a busy one for us. The predictions of the time of first impact ranged from 11 am to 2 pm — with the worst to follow at some point afterward. That meant many of our operations staff either worked or were on standby for a full workday before the outages began in earnest.
The howling winds and torrential rain finally subsided in parts of the territory around 10 pm. At that point, we had about 2,200 outages. Tired — but determined to provide our members with great service — our linemen tackled the challenge quickly, restoring most outages by 5 am the next day.
This dedication and skill level is evidence our employees value excellence and attention to detail. The quick response also shows that our members have blessed us with many resources and great leadership through yearly elections. We believe that this response to Tropical Storm Fred highlights why this year’s annual report theme of “Big Enough to Serve, Local Enough to Care” encapsulates our organization’s core beliefs.
Speaking of the annual report, hopefully by now you have received it. If not, it should be at your home or business soon. We encourage you to read it and learn of the great things that we at WEC have accomplished through your guidance.
The annual report is included in our annual meeting packet. We hope you will take time to review the other materials in the envelope. We have booklets that highlight the board candidates and some proposed bylaws. These items will help you make decisions as you complete the ballot that’s also included in the packet.
In another move that shows our level of care, the board of trustees decided earlier this year that we would once again conduct the annual meeting virtually. It will take place October 29 at noon on WEC’s Facebook page. Following a midsummer spike in coronavirus cases, this move feels appropriate.
While on-site voting will occur the day of the annual meeting, we encourage our members to cast their votes by mail to ensure everyone remains healthy and safe.
The annual meeting is an important time for our cooperative. We get to hear from the members about their thoughts on the cooperative’s direction. No matter what may lie in the future, know our core principles will always be to serve our members well and care for them deeply.
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative