CEO’s Message – April 2023

Les Moreland headshotSpring in the Wiregrass means more moderate temperatures. Your HVAC unit likely can get some rest, and your bills might come down a little bit. It’s usually the perfect weather to stretch your legs and go for a walk, blow the dust off your golf clubs and spend family time on the back patio — you know, when it’s not raining.

For Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, spring is often a time we spend engaging with our community in various ways. In March, we were proud to sponsor several local students to attend the Youth Tour in Montgomery to represent the Wiregrass area. These 10 delegates had an indispensable opportunity to learn what it takes to lead from actual representatives who are doing the work every day. Two of them will go on to the Youth Tour in Washington, D.C.

We select high school juniors every year to participate in this program, which teaches them about American history, the workings of government and how electric co-ops play a part. Even when COVID-19 shut down the Montgomery and D.C. Youth Tours, we continued the program on a local level with our WEC Youth Tour event because we feel strongly about the opportunity it provides our young learners.

The local Youth Tour has provided us a great opportunity to get to know some of the brightest students our area has to offer, who are quite possibly future leaders in our communities. These events get them close to the electric co-op world, as they learn how we track, monitor and respond to outages and get to see and feel the equipment our people use every day. The students also gain practical insight into how local and state governments work through talks with our local delegation, and successful business owners help them hone their leadership skills.

Education helps balance the scales, so in addition to the Youth Tour, we sponsor a group of teachers to go to the Empower Energy Education Workshop every summer so they can impart wisdom about electricity generation to their students. We also participate in Southeast Worlds of Work every year so we can demonstrate what it’s really like working with power lines. You can read about the event in this issue of Alabama Living.

Technology changes all the time, and the children of today will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow. We want to make sure they are equipped for the task.

Our new community solar farm planned right next to our Hartford office is an example of how we’re looking ahead. As solar technology has become cheaper to produce and more efficient, we felt like it was as good a time as any to utilize it for our membership. Over the last year, we’ve experienced the volatility of wholesale natural gas prices. We cushioned much of the blow through good financial judgment, but a power cost adjustment was necessary to keep the co-op in good standing. That PCA will have to stick around for a little while, since our system experienced an all-time-high peak in demand on December 24, which increased the price we pay to ensure the lights stay on when our members need it.

If that volatility did anything positive, it highlighted the need for a diverse energy mix. Because government regulations have weakened the coal industry, our attention is turned to other sources of affordable and reliable power as they become more available to us.

We want to thank our membership for trusting us to provide electricity in the most reliable and affordable way possible. We also hope these warmer spring days are full of sunshine and wish all of you a very happy Easter