CEO’s Message: Decades of ServiceNovember 2022
By Michael S. McWaters, Executive V.P./CEO
Since its earliest days, the mission of Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) has focused on serving the needs of this community. After the invention of electricity and its arrival in major cities, big power companies decided there was too little profit to bring this service to rural areas. So, communities like ours went without until the passage of the Rural Electrification Act.
Residents were able to take matters into their own hands. They spent months going door to door, explaining to their neighbors how a local electric system could change their lives. When they had enough support, they established Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to make their big ideas a reality.
This year, we celebrate the 85th anniversary of that decision. In the decades since, much has changed about the way our cooperative does business. Our electric system is automated to make service more reliable than our founders could have dreamed. System outages register so quickly that we often know about them before members can even pick up the phone. And paying your bill is as easy as a few taps on a smartphone.
But for all that innovation there is so much more about our co-op that hasn’t aged a day. We are still owned by the people we serve and answerable to you. Membership still costs just $5, even though the value of those dollars has changed significantly. And we still exist to bring people a crucial service that might not otherwise be available.
In fact, it’s fitting that the year we celebrate an anniversary like this is the same one that we announced our new Rapid Fiber Internet project. Once complete, the new network will bring high-speed internet access to our members, transforming our area just as the arrival of electricity did decades ago.
The technology has expanded, going from electric service that lights homes at night to internet service that provides new opportunities for business, education, health care and more. But the mission is the same as it was 85 years ago.
I hope each of you will take the time to read more about our cooperative history in this newsletter, including the many ways that history lives on today. We should all be proud of what SVEC has accomplished and excited for what is still to come.
As we come together with friends and family this month to celebrate Thanksgiving, I know I have plenty to give thanks for. I’m grateful to be part of a cooperative that has done so much to help the people we serve. I’m grateful to call this amazing community home. And I’m grateful for each and every one of you. We’ve come a long way in 85 years, and I can’t wait to see what more we can achieve in the 85 years to come.