CEO’s Message – May 2022

Powering through with planning

Les MorelandCertain years produce different challenges in our lives.

Sometimes they are health-related, like those that arose in 2020 with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. Other. years, our struggles may be personal as we grow spiritually and mentally or as we experience life events like relocating our families.

In 2022, though, the challenge for many will be financial. Inflation has reached levels not seen in decades, with skyrocketing prices in key sectors like groceries. Even gasoline and oil products reached 10-year highs in the early portion of the year, pinching everyone’s pocketbooks, including your cooperative’s.
The cost of many of our supplies continues to rise. The gas needed to power the vehicles we use to respond to outages or perform routine maintenance is much higher than last year. And, like everyone else, we’re having to wait longer and longer to receive some of the supplies that we’ve ordered.

We are not despondent, though. Even though the challenges can be significant, years of strong financial planning and accounting practices mean your cooperative has a strong financial base to weather this fiscal storm. Additionally, having a strong work plan — a document that outlines our project and supply needs for multiple years — means that we can react quickly to changes in the economy.

For example, we recently obtained a low-interest loan from Rural Utilities Service to help us move forward with some of the projects that will strengthen our grid and accommodate for the region’s growth. Originally we had planned on taking this loan months later, but with interest rates threatening to rise, we were able to move forward with the paperwork. This will likely save the cooperative a significant amount of money — interest rates did indeed rise shortly after we closed on the loan.

Without having a strong financial and infrastructure plan in place, we might not have been able to execute the loan when we did.

As cooperative employees, we strive to make the dollars you entrust to us work as efficiently as possible. We know you’re feeling the economic pinch, too.

We’re hoping the economic challenges will be short term. We believe the economic development efforts of our business and governmental leaders have positioned our area in a place where it can withstand robust challenges.

We are proud to be a part of many of those efforts, like the Southeast Worlds of Work program that you’ll read about in this magazine. The program represents the best in long-range planning: investing in eighth graders now to help create a strong workforce later. As this program grows in scope and age, we’ll see the dividends pay for local businesses and industries.

Times may be tough now, but we believe brighter days are ahead. We attribute this to consistent planning and perspective. We’re always looking to serve you best. That's what you deserve from your cooperative.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative