November 2021: News from your cooperative

This year’s annual cooperative membership meeting was held at Hancock County High School in Sneedville, Tenn. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety our members, changes were once again made to the Annual Meeting program.

During registration, members had the opportunity to speak with a group of electric vehicle owners who shared information about the electric vehicles on display at the meeting. The meeting was called to order by Board President Roger Ball. The cooperative’s director of accounting and finance, John Hoyle, presented the annual financial report. An additional report regarding the operations of the cooperative during the past year was given by the General Manager.

Highlights of the report presented to the membership by General Manager, Brad Coppock, follow:

Just like last year, this year’s annual meeting is very different from years prior to the pandemic. Last year, we met at the Tazewell warehouse to carry on the important business of the cooperative. As I stood in the warehouse, wearing a mask, looking over a very different crowd at our annual meeting than the previous years, I thought to myself, this is a once in a lifetime occurrence and we’ll be back to normal next year. Little did I know, the pandemic would carry on into this year and continue to affect our daily lives in ways no one could have ever imagined.

I’m sure most of us in attendance today know of someone that has been impacted by the pandemic, and possibly lost someone close to you, and for that you have my sympathies.

As the last year and a half has demonstrated, we never know what tomorrow might bring in the way of challenges or opportunities. So, for the second year in a row, we’ve had to modify our meeting to protect the health and well-being of our members. Just like last year, our program has been scaled down, but will cover all the requirements.

So for now, our hope is that next year we will meet at Thomas Walker High School and, once again, be able to have our regular activities such as free health services, bucket truck rides, face painting for children, lunch and door prizes.

In the meantime, we must continue to take preventative measures while we conduct the business of the cooperative. Luckily, at our offices we have been able
to keep our lobbies open to our members. We continue to frequently sanitize, social distance and stagger work schedules where possible. The virus may have changed how we work, our families’ lives, and the way we educate our children, but it has not changed our commitment to serving the members of the cooperative.

Now, over the next few minutes, I will give an update on the status of the cooperative. As John just reported, despite the lingering pandemic, your cooperative had a strong financial year. We also have a financial consultant look over our finances, and I’m happy to report the financial health of the cooperative will remain strong for the foreseeable future. I would like to talk about the net margins that John mentioned in his report. What does your cooperative do with those net margins? Well, the beauty of the public power model is the net margins will be invested back into the cooperative’s system. And we do this in a couple of ways.

This past year, I’m pleased to report that along with our partners at TVA, we gave back $40,000 to our communities to assist businesses and families affected by the pandemic. As of May, TVA and local power companies across the Tennessee Valley provided nearly $8 million to organizations to assist efforts to help those most impacted by the pandemic. This was a tremendous accomplishment. Another way we invest these margins is by investing back into our infrastructure. We use these funds to upgrade substation equipment, our distribution lines, and we just completed a SCADA upgrade that allows us to communicate with our substations and over 60 downline devices on our distribution system such as reclosers, capacitors and voltage regulators.

Also, we have recently started a 5-year project to upgrade our AMI (metering) system that allows us to read over 33,000 meters every day. These upgrades position your cooperative to provide the reliable service you’ve come to expect.

We also use these margins to invest in broadband. As many of you know, your cooperative has partnered with Scott County Telephone Cooperative to form PVECFiber. This was to fulfill a commitment made by our board of directors to provide high-speed internet to all members throughout our service area. To date, we have hung over 1,300 miles of fiber and we have connected nearly 1,600 services.

Now more than ever, reliable highspeed internet is crucial for our members. Because of the pandemic, more adults are working from home, and more children are attending class from home. We are also working with Scott County Telephone Cooperative to obtain grants to offset the cost of deploying fiber. To date, our partnership has been awarded over $7 million in grants, and we believe we’ll be able to announce another $3 million grant at the end of the month. It will take a few years to complete, but rest assured, we are pursuing all avenues to bring high-speed internet to all homes and businesses in our service area as quickly as possible.

Next we’ll talk about our long-term partnership with TVA. Last year, TVA approved a special $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit to help communities and businesses recover more quickly from the pandemic; and, at last year’s annual meeting it was announced that PVEC’s board of directors had made the decision to pass this credit on to our members. That credit will end this month. However, TVA’s board of directors approved an extension to this credit through fiscal year 2022. I’m happy to report, at the last Powell Valley board meeting, your Board of Directors has, once again, made the decision to pass this credit directly to the members. So that is great news for the members of our cooperative.

Last we have an update on upgrades at our Sneedville and Jonesville Facilities The construction of our new Sneedville
Office and a new warehouse is complete. It looks fantastic. Nearly all the labor was done in house. The lots have recently been paved and we’re working on the landscaping. In the very near future, we will be planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony. If you haven’t seen the new buildings, you should make the drive down on Jail Street. It’s really something all our members should be proud of. This past year, building supplies and materials have been very difficult to come by, and there have been considerable delays, but we do still have plans for upgrades at
our Jonesville facilities.

At this time, I’d like to thank the folks at the school for all their help and for allowing us to use their facility. We’d also like to thank those who arranged to have the electric cars on display, to the health department for their participation, and to Mitchel and Mike Cosby for providing the sound system. We appreciate all of you. To our employees, I appreciate the job you do each and every day to serve our members. Throughout this pandemic you rose to the occasion to face any challenge that came our way, and remained committed to those we serve.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and myself, thank you for the fantastic job you have been doing. To the Board, I want to personally say “thank you” on behalf of the employees for the job that you do, to make our job possible, as we all work together to serve our members.

At this time I’d like to recognize a person who played a very important role at the co-op and was instrumental through his guidance and vision in making Powell Valley Electric what it is today. That person is former General Manager and CEO Randell Meyers. So when you see Randell, on behalf of the board, the employees, and the members, please recognize him for his 57 years of dedicated service to the cooperative. Thank you, Randell — we appreciate you.

This completes my report. I would like to say, regardless of what lies ahead, we will continue to focus on our commitment to improve the lives of our members by providing the best possible service at the lowest possible price.

We were pleased to once again have with us David Callis, general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, at this year’s annual meeting. We also welcomed Director Tracey
Sharp, present for her first meeting as representative for Board District 1.

During the business session, presided over by Board President Roger Ball, incumbent directors Roger Ball, representing District 2; Mike Shockley, representing District 7; and David Kindle representing District 8, were reelected to the board of directors without

During the reorganizational meeting of the board, officers re-elected were Roger Ball, president; David Kindle, vice president; and Judith Robertson, secretary-treasurer.

We look forward to once again be able to gather with you — members of the co-op community — to catch up, hear what you have to say and enjoy some good entertainment, food, and fellowship. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work to continue to provide safe, reliable, affordable power during this pandemic.

-Brad Coppock