2020 General Manager Annual Report
It is with great pride that I am providing this annual report to our members. We have had some unique issues over the course of the last year, some of which are a first in our 82-year history. In March, COVID-19 hit our area, and we were tasked with implementing a pandemic response plan. For the first time ever, we were forced to close our lobbies and limit interactions between employees and members. This was extremely difficult for us since we value our relationship with you. Due to increasing cases of the virus, we immediately put in place a plan that required employees to socially distance and adhere to CDC guidelines. I truly believe that our early efforts helped control the virus’ spread
As if the virus wasn’t enough, we were hit with another obstacle when some of the most dangerous storms in our cooperative’s history hit our service territory. The first came on Easter Sunday when one of the largest tornadoes in the country’s history cut a large path through our service area. A week later, another tornado hit our territory and traveled through several counties. In total, the storms left 365 broken poles on the ground and more than 12,000 meters without power. Our line crews and servicemen, along with our inside workers, helped to restore power quickly, safely and efficiently. We also received assistance from our sister cooperatives, Magnolia Electric and Coast Electric Power Association. Employees balanced COVID-19 safety protocols along with a difficult outage restoration masterfully. I am extremely happy with the work our employees have done during an unprecedented time.
Regardless of pandemics, storms and uncertain futures, there is one thing that is sure, that your electric cooperative is working in your best interests. I am proud to be able to say that we have seen many good results over the past year despite the difficulties brought on by the coronavirus and severe weather.
System Growth and Improvement
For 2019, the number of meters served by the Association increased 1% from 50,039 to 50,469, while our annual sales of electricity—1,039,734,706 kilowatt hours (kWh)—were about 3% below 2018.
Maintaining reliable service to members requires continual planning and upgrading of our lines and equipment. In 2019, our crews added nearly 39 miles of new overhead and underground lines to our system, which has 6,140 miles of lines and 25 substations throughout our 12-county service area.
Right-of-way (ROW) trimming is an essential part of our maintenance program. Our goal is to rotate through our entire system every 10 years, which means we trim nearly 500 miles of ROW annually.
This year we used a combination of trimming and cutting trees along with the application of economical and environmentally-friendly herbicides. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work to maintain a safe and reliable system for our members.
System Maintenance and Outages
Pearl River Valley Electric has an excellent outage record that is well below the national average. Typically, our members experience very few outages lasting only short amounts of time, which is remarkable when you consider that electric service is a 24/7 commodity. However, despite our best efforts to provide excellent service, we are still at the mercy of severe weather, like the storms in April.
Along with our ROW maintenance, we continue to implement a pole inspection program to change out bad poles that could possibly cause power outages. As always, over the past year we also replaced, upgraded or retired equipment and facilities as needed.
Updating our system to benefit our members is always a priority. Over the course of the last year, Pearl River Valley Electric has been working to switch two substations from being supplied with power from Mississippi Power to Cooperative Energy. This change will benefit our members with quicker response times during major outages as well as financial savings for the Association. In addition, we have been hard at work adding a substation located on Cole Road to serve the Oak Grove area with even greater reliability.
All our employees are committed to working safely. They have adopted a full-time culture of safety and strive to work accident free each day. An effective safety program not only ensures the wellbeing of employees, but it also saves your Association money.
Along with existing safety standards we have improved the sanitation of offices, vehicles and equipment due to COVID-19. In addition, we have made personal protective equipment available to employees to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 has shown the importance of having alternate ways for our members to access their information along with being informed about important events and issues affecting the cooperative.
Our website is better than ever now for handling your day to day needs. Through our website www.PRVEPA.com you can pay your bill, access your energy use history and report outages. In addition, we have added the ability to apply for service as well as access our levelized billing and bank draft forms. We also offer a mobile app that offers similar services. You can access the app by searching for “PRVEPA” in your app store. You may also call us about home energy audits, advice on the proper sizing on heating and air-conditioning systems, and educational programs for civic groups and schools.
We are also in the process of designing a new website that will be easy to use while providing the same great features of our current site.
COVID-19 and the April storms taught us that we need as many tools as possible in our arsenal to inform you about news concerning Pearl River Valley Electric. For this reason, we launched our Facebook and Twitter pages. These sites are meant to educate and inform our members about our cooperative. During large scale outages, we will update you about restoration efforts. In addition, these sites will be used to alert members to important information such as scam alerts, program and policy information and news about the positive impact your cooperative is having in the community. These sites aren’t monitored 24/7, so we ask that you refrain from posting outage notifications.
Round Up for Education
This will be our eighth year of operating Round Up for Education, a community college scholarship program designed to encourage members and their children to continue their education. The vast majority of our members are rounding up their bills each month, which is providing the money to fund the scholarships. Over the past seven years, more than 1,500 students have received nearly $1.4 million in scholarships to help with their education costs, and this year we have more than 180 applicants. Without doubt this program is a unique and collaborative way to improve the quality of life for hundreds of families in the communities we serve. It is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished by cooperative members working together; I don’t think there’s another program like it in the country.
YOUTH LEADERSHIP ESSAY CONTEST
COVID-19, like everything else, changed our Youth Tour plans this year. Each year Pearl River Valley Electric sponsors an essay contest for junior class students in high schools located within our service area. A judging committee reviews the essays and selects the winners. Normally, the winners attend a three-day youth leadership workshop in Jackson and during the summer they travel with other Mississippi students to Washington, D.C. for the week-long Youth Tour. However, this year, our Youth Tour participants were unable to attend the Washington D.C. trip due to the coronavirus. This year’s winners were Marlie Barnes and Hagen Bracey of Columbia Academy and Jeremiah Jackson of Wiggins. These young people have been outstanding representatives for Pearl River Valley Electric.
MEMBERS ARE OUR PRIORITY
This year, more than any before has given me pause for reflection on how important our members are to our cooperative. COVID-19 along with the devasting storms put into perspective for all of us at Pearl River Valley Electric about what is important in our daily lives; our members and each other. I would again like to say thank you, for your support and faith in us during this year’s pandemic and extreme weather. It has been a privilege to serve you this past year, and we will continue to work hard in coming years to meet and exceed your expectations.