Members from across Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s service area met for its annual meeting on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at Claiborne High School. Attendees were served refreshments and enjoyed bluegrass music played by Tennessee 90.
Board President Roger Ball called the meeting to order, and cooperative employee Danny Sexton gave the invocation. John Hoyle, director of accounting and finance, presented the annual financial report. This report expounded on PVEC’s financial stability and steady growth.
General Manager Brad Coppock spoke about various challenges the co-op faced in the past year, many of which were caused by extreme weather conditions.
“Since our last annual meeting, we have been faced with many challenges. Remembering back over the past few months, it seems we have experienced windstorms every other week. We also had two F1 tornadoes that landed in Southwest Virginia this past May, and the TVA-mandated rolling blackouts during Winter Storm Elliott,” stated Coppock. “While we experience these challenges, our Cooperative has experienced growth and progress.
Coppock reported that the cooperative has seen growth in membership as more families relocate to the Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee regions. Although the industry has faced material shortages due to natural disasters and a foreign war, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative continues to meet demand.
PVEC has also been working on several projects. Over the last year, the cooperative has installed or replaced nearly 600 transformers for nearly 900 new services. Construction crews have installed or replaced approximately 1,150 poles and built or re-conductored over 60 miles of overhead and underground lines. In addition to an update on construction, Coppock also gave an update on the Cooperative’s efforts to improve reliability by upgrading distribution lines and substations, maintaining rights-of-way and investing in cybersecurity.
“The equipment upgrades, continued focus on keeping our rights-of-way clear, and the significant investments in cybersecurity demonstrate your Cooperative’s commitment to provide the safe and reliable service you’ve come to expect,” reported Coppock.
Coppock also noted the growth of PVECFiber, a partnership with Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and Scott County Telephone Cooperative. In three years, PVECFiber has built over 1,800 miles of fiber backbone and has provided high-speed broadband to nearly 8,000 families and businesses. This endeavor has been costly, but fortunately, your Cooperative has been awarded approximately $18 Million in grants since last year’s annual meeting.
Last, Coppock highlighted the co-op’s long-term partnership with TVA. He reported that TVA has announced a 4.5% increase to wholesale rates across the region. This comes as a result of the need for more generation after Winter Storm Elliott swept through the Valley, setting new records for energy demand. This rate increase from TVA is necessary to fund additional generating assets. In addition, TVA has announced the elimination of the Pandemic Relief Credit, which the PVEC Board of Directors had voted to pass directly onto members for the last three years.
Coppock was glad to report that, although many utilities are adding rate increases on top of TVA’s increase, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative will not be adding a rate increase.
“While rates may change from time to time, one thing remains the same,” says Coppock. “We are committed to improve the lives of our members by providing the best possible service at the lowest possible price.”
During the business session, presided over by Board President Roger Ball, incumbent directors Tracey Sharp, representing District 1; Judith Robertson, representing District 3; and Bill J. Surber representing District 6, were re-elected to the board of directors without opposition.
During the reorganizational meeting of the board, officers reelected were Roger Ball, president; Bill Surber, vice president; and Judith Robertson, secretary-treasurer.