CEO’s Message — August 2019

Building a stronger system

CEO Michael S. McWaters
Michael S. McWaters
Executive V.P./CEO

It might be hard to believe now, but in the days before Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative was formed, local residents had to work hard to convince their neighbors that electricity would change their lives. After Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, proponents of electricity in the Suwannee Valley had to go door to door explaining its benefits until enough people signed up to form their own cooperative.

Back then, becoming a cooperative member cost $5, which wasn’t always easy money to come by. Today, the cost of membership is exactly the same. That’s because we believe that everyone deserves access to affordable and reliable electric service. Maintaining a high standard of reliability requires making constant repairs and updates to our system. After all, what passed for reliable service in the cooperative’s early years probably wouldn’t satisfy today’s members. As electricity has become a more important part of our everyday lives, we have also come to rely on it working when we need it.

There are many ways we work to improve reliability. We maintain rights of way around lines to reduce the likelihood of falling limbs knocking out service. We relocate key lines from heavily-wooded areas to roadsides. In some places, we have installed automated switches to isolate outages to specific areas and restore power to members within minutes.

This summer, we began a pilot project with a new technology called tree wire. This wire is tougher than traditional electric line, so it can stand up to common outage causes like falling tree limbs or curious wildlife. You can learn more about tree wire and how SVEC went about choosing the best locations for the pilot project in this month’s newsletter. While it isn’t a solution for every section of line on our system, our hope is that it can greatly improve reliability for many of our members.

In this month's newsletter, you can also read about Sidney Lord, board representative for members living in District 5. You can even learn about a recent volunteer project SVEC employees and family members carried out for Accipiter Enterprises Educational Birds of Prey and safety presentations SVEC staff made to local community organizations.

When it comes to the technology we use to bring reliable service to members, our cooperative has changed a great deal over its more than 80-year history. But in other ways, like our dedication to serving our neighbors, not much has changed at all. And, as it has been from day one, it is still our privilege to serve you.