Coweta-Fayette Electric Membership Corporation recently hosted its 74th Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Day at cooperative headquarters in Palmetto, Georgia.
Held in a drive-thru manner once again due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the business only event offered members the opportunity to drive through the headquarters to vote to approve the minutes from the 2020 Annual Meeting and register for this year’s grand prize – $1,000 credit on their CFEMC electricity bill – and receive their member gift, a Magic Strip Power Cube. Members were also given the opportunity to register early the week prior (October 4-8) at the headquarters and branch offices.
The annual meeting is an important part of the cooperative business model and reflects the cooperative principle – Voluntary and Open Membership. The event traditionally brings members together to learn more about the cooperative’s business matters and participate in the democratic cooperative process by electing their board members.
Part of the value of being a member-owner of CFEMC is the opportunity to participate in the election of the board of directors. This year, the nominating committee appointed Mildred A. Winkles (Seat 3, Coweta County), Donald E. Harris (Seat 4, Coweta County) and Alice J. Mallory (Seat 4, Fayette County) to serve three-year terms. The nominating committee received no other candidates for consideration. As such, these incumbents were reelected to the positions.
It’s estimated that 1,776 people participated in the drive-thru event and/or registered and voted during the week prior. Business session updates and the drawing for the grand prize winner were streamed live via Facebook during the event and is available via CFEMC social media channels. Virtual business meeting speeches and results became available to members online via www.utility.org following the close of the event.
During the virtual business session, Board Chairman Jim Fulton shared highlights from the past year and reiterated the CFEMC’s Board of Directors’ commitment to its members.
“We continue to be one of the few electric cooperatives in the country to consistently experience growth,” said Fulton.
“This year that included upgrades, improvements and expansion within our service territory, as well as improvements to facility and asset management, cyber security, and continuous review and updating of our policies and procedures to ensure that we remain in conformance with all current governance procedures for co-op boards and management. Our main goal is to always provide – (1) Member Value, (2) System Value and (3) Employee Value to all our members and employees.”
Fulton went on to assure members that CFEMC is currently in a very strong financial position. He stated that an outside independent auditor had reported that CFEMC continues to be in a very strong financial position and that, most importantly, rates to consumer/members, continue to be lower than co-ops of similar size throughout the nation and lower than the average rates of most other co-ops and utilities in the state of Georgia.
CFEMC CEO Chris Stephens shared how the last year has affected the co-op and its members.
“You may think of Coweta-Fayette EMC as poles and wire strung across the countryside delivering power to your homes and businesses, but CFEMC is much more than this; it’s a family. And that family extends to you, our members. We are all working together for the common good. If anything, the last 18-20 months have shown us how resilient and strong we are when we work together,” said Stephens.
Stephens also shared how CFEMC is continuing to invest in new technology to strengthen current infrastructure.
“I’m proud to say CFEMC has been on the cutting edge providing green energy options to our members since 2001,” said Stephens. “I am also extremely proud to say we’re continuing to grow our ‘green’ options, including our Smart Choice Solar program that was made possible through our partnership with True Natural Gas.”
“CFEMC is also embarking on our own Net Zero study. We’re taking a close look at how we can take steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Stephens went on to explain how investing in technology would increase reliability.
“Along with the technology used to produce green energy, we’re also investing in technology to improve the reliability of our system,” said Stephens. “We’re continuing to develop our fiber network and connect all 28 of our substations. This network is vital since we need a strong communication network to make all of this possible.”
Board Chair Alice Reeves encouraged members to participate in Operation Round-Up to help give back to the communities we serve.
“Since 1993, Operation Round Up has helped thousands of our neighbors. We have funded over $5.6 million back into the community,” said Reeves. “Now, I need your help. If you are not participating in the program by rounding up your bill, I urge you to sign up online at www.utility.org. The average amount donated by rounding-up is about $6.00 per year. It is a charitable gift, and it is tax deductible.”
Members were encouraged to listen to the full business session speeches virtually from CFEMC CEO Chris Stephens; Board Chairman Jim Fulton; True Natural Gas Chairman J. Neal Shepard, Jr.; and Operation Round Up Board Chair Alice Reeves by visiting CFEMC’s 2021 Annual Meeting webpage, located at www.utility.org/about-us/2021-annual-meeting/.
Juan Hernandez-Rios was the lucky winner of the grand prize – a $1,000 CFEMC electric bill credit.
Knowing the annual meeting is a vital part of the cooperative structure, the board weighed their decision with the concerns for the health and safety of its members and employees. The board hopes to host an in-person Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Day in 2022 full of food, fun and prizes for consumers and family members.
Coweta Fayette EMC is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to over 80,000 consumers in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Fulton, Clayton, Meriwether, Spalding and Troup counties.