SVEC at 85November 2022
For decades, Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) has powered our members’ lives and businesses. As we celebrate our 85th anniversary, we invite you to take a look back through years of proud service to this community. Though the tools and technology we use to get the job done may have changed, other aspects of the cooperative’s mission have remained remarkably stable through the decades.
The First 50 Years
It didn’t take long after Thomas Edison built the first electric system for Manhattan in 1882 for many large cities to follow suit. But rural Americans remained largely in the dark for decades. After all, building power lines to reach sparsely populated areas was rarely, if ever, profitable. Then the Rural Electrification Act opened the door for cooperatives to provide electricity to regions the major power companies would not.
In the decades since its establishment, SVEC has implemented a host of new technologies to improve the quality of our members’ electric service and increase reliability to levels unimaginable to the co-op’s founders. The computerized outage management system and the radio and micro wave-based (soon to be fiber optic) supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system are just 2 examples. There are also electronic devices that can recognize faults along power lines and automatically reroute the flow of electricity to consumers.
Tools like SVEC’s website, the SmartHub account management app and an interactive pay-by-phone system have improved the member experience by making it easier than ever to do business with the cooperative. In years past, members had to travel to SVEC’s office in Live Oak to pay their bills. Today, they can use their computers or mobile devices to pay their bills, view past bills, analyze electricity usage, request service and chat online with a member service representative. While the technologies
SVEC uses to deliver reliable power and excellent customer service may have changed drastically since 1937, there are some constants. Membership in the cooperative is still $5, and members are still able to elect board members they trust to represent them. In addition, our commitment to improving the quality of life in the community has been unwavering. In fact, it’s grown considerably over the years.
From monetary and in-kind contributions for dozens of community organizations to participation in numerous local events, SVEC’s support for the community has never been stronger. Nowhere is this more visible than in our initiatives to aid local students.
For more than 40 years, SVEC has hosted area high school students on tours of Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to show the importance of civic engagement and see how state and federal governments work. SVEC has awarded $83,000 to local high school seniors since the co-op’s board of trustees established its scholarship program in 2015. These scholarships are awarded each year to some of the area’s outstanding graduates who want to continue their education at an accredited post-secondary or vocational education institution.
In the 4 years since SVEC launched its Operation Round Up® program, more than $400,000 in grants have been awarded to local schools for items that directly benefit students in the classroom. Books, lab equipment, art supplies, math modules and audio-visual equipment are just a few examples. Made possible by the generosity of the co-op’s members, Operation Round Up will continue to be a blessing to our community’s teachers who work so diligently to give our children the best education possible.
Perhaps most importantly, SVEC and other electric cooperatives are still looking out for rural communities in ways that large for-profit corporations do not. With SVEC’s recently announced plan to build a 100% fiber high-speed internet network, the cooperative is once again stepping forward to grab a once-in-85-years opportunity and provide a vital new service to its members.