Committed to Excellence

Posted: April 1, 2020, 12:00 am

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative operates efficiently, report reveals

Allen Langford, a linemen, working on a power pole.A recent report identifies Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) as a leader in several areas, demonstrating the cooperative’s commitment to serving its membership well.

Our cooperative recently received our annual key ratio trend analysis, known as a KRTA, on WEC’s operations and compared them to other regional and national electric cooperatives and power providers. In several categories, WEC matched or bettered industry averages.

“Not only do Wiregrass Electric employees strive to provide the best in electrical and customer service, but we also aim to do so as efficiently as possible,” says Lisa Lenoir, WEC’s chief financial officer. “We do this in order to be the best steward possible of our members’ hard-earned dollars. This KRTA reveals we are successful in our endeavors, but we will always try to do better. Just enough isn’t enough.”

The KRTA analyzed several financial components, and WEC performed well in many of them. The KRTA found that:

  • Despite being an at-cost energy provider, WEC on average does a better job of managing its long-term debt than other power providers.
  • The average interest rate on WEC’s loans is just above 3%, which is below the averages found regionally and nationally. A lower interest rate makes it easier to pay down debt and makes the most of the members’ dollars by keeping costs as low as possible.
  • Wiregrass Electric maintains a respectable amount of depreciation, balancing upgrades in technology with necessary maintenance to keep the system updated and well-maintained.
  • WEC’s controllable expenses — the distribution expenses to members — registered nearly 6% lower than regional averages and about 14% lower than the national cooperative average.
  • Wiregrass Electric receives less revenue per member than the national average, which means quality service results from good management practices.

KRTA noted efficiencies in other operational categories, too.

WEC is a leader in maximizing value, serving a member base larger than the regional average while distributing fewer kilowatt-hours of power to meet demand. That efficiency leads to competitive electric rates for WEC members.

WEC programs like free energy audits, the manufactured home heat pump rebate initiative and the H20 Plus load-control water heater rollout ensure members use electricity efficiently, which also keeps usage and rates low.

The comparative amount of power sold also reflects the residential nature of the WEC coverage area. More than 80% of WEC’s membership is residential, much higher than the national average of 62%.

WEC, compared to similar electric providers, serves a greater number of residences than businesses, a ratio that can indicate higher costs. However, WEC’s operating expenses per member are well under the national and regional averages.

Additionally, WEC’s ratio of employees to members — about one person for every 373 members — is also a strong indicator of the cooperative’s performance and commitment to providing excellent value. The number reflects the training and quality of each WEC employee and the cooperative’s use of new technologies and good sound management of the cooperative.