CEO’s Message: Looking Out for YouMarch 2021
By Michael S. McWaters, Executive V.P./CEO
Electric cooperatives aren’t like other businesses. For one, we don’t operate for profit, so we can make decisions based solely on what is best for our consumer members. Also, cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by the people we serve, and we are dedicated to keeping you informed about the business of our cooperative so you can better understand the choices we make.
It’s also a matter of accountability. It is important for our consumer-members to know what occurs at their cooperative and that we are answerable to you. That sense of accountability is one of the reasons we hold an annual meeting.
We also feel we have a responsibility to consider the safety and well-being of our members in everything we do. Therefore, in light of the continuing pandemic and in accordance with the CDC’s recommendation to avoid crowds, we will not hold our customary meeting at the Suwannee County Coliseum this year.
Instead, the Board of Trustees will gather as a small group at Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative’s (SVEC’s) headquarters on April 24. While members will not be able to attend in person, the entire meeting will be streamed live on Facebook and our website. You can find more details about how members can participate in the meeting via Limited Proxy on the last page of this report and in a letter, you will receive in early April.
I, for one, can say that I will deeply miss the opportunity to come together as a cooperative and hope we will be able to do so once again soon.
As in every annual report, you can find SVEC’s financial statements for the past year, as well as the minutes of last year’s annual meeting. I think you’ll be pleased to see that our cooperative continues to operate on a strong financial footing, and it is well-positioned to offer safe, affordable, and reliable power for years to come.
This year, I’m particularly proud of our employees for their dedication to building a safe workplace. In 2020, we had no injuries that required medical treatment. That was just the second time for this achievement in SVEC’s 84-year history. Our team accomplished this while responding to more than 20,000 calls from members, and we even pitched in to help some sister cooperatives repair their systems during a historically active hurricane season.
We also continued to provide support to local students through member-driven programs like Operation Round-Up, while returning millions of dollars to members in the form of capital credits and wholesale power cost adjustments. And throughout all that, we managed to maintain and strengthen our electric system so that the average SVEC consumer had power 99.6% of the time.
2020 was undoubtedly a challenging one for every member of our community. But during that adversity, we also saw the strength of the cooperative model and of our electric system. I look forward to seeing all the ways we will be able to work together and achieve even more in the coming year.