‘The Call’ to serve & save

Published 8:17 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AHOSKIE – Staying in business means responding to the needs of your customers.

Even though ownership of Roanoke Electric Cooperative is in the hands of its members, company officials still believe that good service goes hand-in-hand with keeping the power on and the office doors open.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative President and CEO Curtis Wynn chats with members during Saturday’s annual meeting held at the Hertford County High School gym. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Roanoke Electric Cooperative President and CEO Curtis Wynn chats with members during Saturday’s annual meeting held at the Hertford County High School gym. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

REC President and CEO Curtis Wynn stressed exactly that on Saturday when the Co-Op hosted its annual Membership Meeting in the Hertford County High School gym.

Wynn referred to customer service as “The Call”

“It’s a simple combination of asking you questions about how we are serving you, listening to what you have to say to us and responding in a manner that provides you better service,” Wynn told the capacity crowd in the gym.

“One way that happens is through the use of surveys,” he continued. “We started having a firm contact you about our service levels several years ago. We receive your feedback on a quarterly basis and take the proper actions to address your concerns.”

Another way REC responds to “The Call” is conducting Community Forums, sharing updates and information with its members at locations throughout the Co-Op’s service area.

In the area of providing electricity at the lowest cost, Wynn said the surveys are showing that REC’s performance in that area is not meeting the membership’s expectations.

“We know we have more work to do and today we are officially launching ‘The Call 2018’,” Wynn stated. “This means we are taking steps to insure that we fulfill our mission, which is to provide you safe, reliable and affordable electricity, while enhancing the lives of our members, and doing so in a way that meets all of your expectations.”

To demonstrate how REC is responding to “The Call”, Wynn introduced three Co-Op members – Dianne Stephens, Jessene Howard and Doris Russell-Holley – to talk about how Roanoke has responded to their call to provide them with better service.

Wynn also addressed what he called the “Big Four” of 30 initiatives REC has undertaken to better enable the Co-Op to exceed expectations of its members. Those four are Bright $avings, Upgrade to $ave, Community Solar, and Roanoke Connect.

The Bright $avings project is one that replaces all of the existing mercury vapor and high pressure sodium yard lights of its members with LED (Low Emitting Diodes) lights. Wynn said this project produces better lighting at a lower price and with fewer failures.

“We anticipate this project to take approximately 24 months to complete.  A schedule will be published soon to let you know when to anticipate us getting to your home,” Wynn said.

Upgrade to $ave is a program where an energy assessment is performed on a member’s home in an effort to identify where repairs are needed to save on energy costs. Wynn stressed that the energy savings can be applied to cover the cost of a loan taken out to make the repairs.

“We anticipate a need for approximately $7 million to cover estimated capital requirements for an Energy Efficiency Work Plan that spans a four year period,” Wynn noted. “This figure would cover the capital requirements for an average of 200 residential energy efficiency upgrades per year, with an average investment of $7,500 per home, supplemented by rebates.”

Wynn added that the program would be open to all customer classes, and total loan amount would include $250,000 per year for commercial and industrial customers.

Roanoke Connect is a 200-mile fiber network that will connect critical electric distribution services to address REC’s operational needs via each of its substations

“In addition helping us provide you better electric service, Roanoke Connect has a number of additional benefits: the potential to bring high speed Internet access to a number of homes, businesses, schools, governmental agencies, hospitals, cell phone service providers at a very reasonable price, thus improving the quality of life in our region,” Wynn noted.

Community Solar allows Roanoke Electric Cooperative to make the upfront investment into solar energy.  For a much smaller investment, members can purchase panels and sell REC the power they produce, thus reducing the amount of their electric bill.

“If you are interested in purchasing solar energy, we will have this option available to you by the end of the year.

We are projecting this project to begin in October and be completed in December. All members are eligible to participate in the solar project by purchasing one or more of the solar panels.  Pricing will be available soon, so sign up and we will keep you posted,” Wynn stated.

Wynn also addressed a political action element, saying that proposed EPA regulations targeting existing power plants will increase the cost of electricity and have serious consequences in local communities. He said that more than half a million Americans have already taken action to stop the EPA from implementing costly new regulations.

“The federal government, through the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has proposed actions that will make it impossible for your cooperative to keep your electric cost lower,” Wynn said. “While we explore cleaner ways to provide electricity, such as the Community Solar project we are launching, the government is pushing for change quicker than we can realistically implement their mandates.

“To take our efforts a step further to try to prevent laws from getting passed that impact our members, since last June we have been asking our members to get involved politically by joining ACRE, our political action committee which uses the money we raise to support federal legislators who support our cause and who will fight against laws such as the one EPA is currently implementing,” he added.

Wynn said by the end of the year, REC anticipates that over 400 members will have joined ACRE.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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