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2014 Report to Members: It's All About Service

Whether they ask to be or not, all companies are evaluated by their customers. Each time we eat out, we evaluate the quality of the restaurant meal and the service from our wait staff. When we use our smartphone, we take note of dropped calls and evaluate customer service from our provider. And even though our dealings with a company may be mostly good, all it takes is one bad experience to turn us off.

Few companies are evaluated as frequently as the power company. Every time we flip a light switch, we form opinions about the reliability and quality of our electric service. While our lights may have been on for 364 days out of the year, it’s the few hours after a wind storm when we don’t have power that we’ll remember.

At Jackson EMC, we know our members expect us to meet their needs 24/7, and we stake our reputation on meeting your expectations through prompt and reliable service.

So that we can continue to improve, we routinely ask our members to tell us how we’re doing, like last fall when we distributed 3,200 surveys to residential customers, asking you to rate us on key areas that drive service satisfaction, including customer service, electric service quality, billing, value provided and your experience when contacting us.

When the results were tabulated, it revealed that 94 percent of you are satisfied with the service we provide. It’s the highest rating we’ve received in the 20 years we’ve conducted this research. We were both delighted and gratified; after all, in the same time period, Coca-Cola only received an 84 percent satisfaction score.

The survey further revealed that 93 percent of our members say they would choose Jackson EMC if they could choose their electric utility next time. And 91 percent said they are satisfied with how quickly we restore power after outages.

While we’re obviously proud of these results, we won’t take for granted our mission to continue providing you reliable electric service and exceptional customer service. We understand how a great reputation today can be gone tomorrow if we fail to meet your needs. That’s why we’ll keep working hard on continuously improving operations and services at Jackson EMC.

With a Focus on Reliability

Last winter, a Polar Vortex brought record cold temperatures to our area. The severe cold was a good test of our equipment, and we passed with flying colors. Jackson EMC set a record demand of almost 1.3 megawatts.

Barely a month later, our employees prepared for what we feared would be a serious ice storm. When the storm only brought snow and sleet to our area, we sent our line crews to co-ops east and south of us to help repair damages brought to their systems due to ice accumulation.

Some outage origins, such as wind or the occasional ice storm, are out of our control, but we do all we can to limit the damage Mother Nature can do to our distribution system. The biggest threat in a storm is falling trees and limbs. Our vigorous right-of-way maintenance program ensures that limbs are kept trimmed as far away as possible from power lines. When our best efforts to avoid outages fail, we have a comprehensive Emergency Restoration Plan that swings into action, mobilizing employees and equipment to respond to widespread power outages in an orderly, effective manner in order to get your lights back on.

Through a sophisticated network of about 213,000 Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters and computerized systems – Outage Management, Geographic Information, Customer Information, Supervisory Data Control and Acquisition – we monitor the flow of electricity through our 78 metering points, more than 13,500 miles of energized wire and thousands of pieces of equipment that deliver power to your homes and businesses. These systems allow us to quickly identify and respond to outages by remotely manipulating equipment or dispatching crews to make repairs.

Last year, we began an automated distribution project to install reclosers in place of about 200 switches that have to be operated manually. These reclosers continually monitor the current in the line; when a problem occurs, they can operate independently or be operated remotely from our System Control Center. It will take several years to replace all 200 switches, but when they are installed, these reclosers will keep more members from losing power in the first place and restore power more quickly when outages do occur.

With the planning, system monitoring, right-of-way maintenance and employee training we have in place, we are well equipped to limit the number of power outages you experience and, when they do happen, get the lights back on quickly.

Welcoming New Members

After a slow rebound from The Great Recession, we have for the second year in a row added 3,000 new members. It’s the most growth we’ve seen in the past six years, and it’s a welcome sign of recovery. Jackson EMC now has almost 214,000 members.

In addition to adding more than 3,200 residential customers, we’ve added nearly 360 commercial and industrial customers. Some of these were large, competitive customer-choice loads, including the Toyota Industries Compressor Parts facility in Pendergrass with its connected load of 21 megawatts. Other large loads that signed on with us in the past year are prototype Kroger stores in Hall and Clarke counties, ProCare Rx in Hall County, Millenium Mat Company in Gwinnett County and distribution centers for Ollie’s and Homegoods in Jackson County.

In the past year, we built the new Valentine Farms and New Holland substations to serve two of our new commercial customers, Toyota in Jackson County and the Hall County prototype Kroger.

Conservative Management

Jackson EMC members have used almost 5.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in the past 12 months, and your co-op now has almost $900 million in plant assets. Yet, even though we have 9,500 more members than we had five years ago, our cooperative operates efficiently with 46 fewer employees than it had at that time.

Our board of directors and staff continue to conservatively manage Jackson EMC, which is in very sound financial condition and continues to return money to you, our member/owners. Because we are a not-forprofit cooperative, a portion of revenues left over after all the bills are paid each year (we call them “margin refunds”) is returned to members at year’s end. Last December, eligible Jackson EMC members received $5.5 million in margin refunds.

This December, we will mail $6 million in refunds to more than 207,000 members who received service in 1989 and/or 2013. After this December 2014 refund, Jackson EMC will have returned almost $102 million in margin refunds to our members since our cooperative was founded in 1938.

Margin refunds are not the only way we put money back in your pocket. Of the 94 electric providers in Georgia, our electric rates are among the 10 lowest.

To Better Serve You

Jackson EMC continues to implement new services designed to ease your interactions with us. Instead of having to call us, now you can use your smartphone and the Jackson EMC web app to view your bill, report an outage, apply for or disconnect service, and other functions. Our self-‚Äč service website lets you conduct business with us 24/7, and now you can use our app to do that while you’re on the go.

If you need to make special arrangements to pay your power bill, you may be able to make them over the phone now through an automated system without having to hold for a Customer Service Representative, saving you precious time.

To better serve our members in Madison, east Jackson and north Clarke counties, we recently opened a new office at Highway 29 and Spratlin Mill Road. This new office provides us with a central location to respond more quickly to your needs. Plus, it gives our members easier access to us, additional drive-thru lanes and an auditorium for community events.

Finally, to help you better manage your energy use, Jackson EMC this year kicked off an Energy Fitness program with the Energy Fitness Challenge, which was designed to get you on track to making wise energy choices to slim down your energy usage – and your power bill – on your way to becoming Energy Fit.

To keep you excited about becoming Energy Fit, this year’s Grand Prize at Annual Meeting is a $2,500 voucher towards purchase of the energy efficient appliances of your choice. Join us at Annual Meeting on September 18 to learn more about your cooperative and its products and services. Maybe you’ll go home that night as our Grand Prize winner and our next Jackson EMC Energy Fit member!