2015 Report to Members: Strong Roots, Bright Future
Our vision is for Jackson EMC to be the best, forward-thinking, innovative, energy supplier providing a friendly and fulfilling work environment. How do we do that? This year, we began a strategic planning effort we’ll use each year to ensure we continue to move toward that vision and constantly improve our service to you. Through the strategic planning process, we’ll pick several issues that we feel should be addressed and focus on improving those issues. When we’ve addressed those, we’ll move on to the next set. We will be constantly striving to achieve our vision and we will get better every step of the way.
Jackson EMC members have used almost 5.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in the past 12 months, and your co-op now has $930 million in plant assets. For the third year in a row, we’ve added more than 3,000 new meters, and now serve more than 217,500 meters. This year, we’ve invested $31 million in the distribution network that serves you. During the year, we’ve won nearly 15 megawatts of competitive industrial load – companies that chose this cooperative because of the service we provide. Two large loads opened their doors – the Georgia Poultry Lab and the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton campus.
In addition to new industrial customers, we’re seeing residential construction pick up again, with Right Choice energy efficient homes going up in two multi-family communities and 15 single-family subdivisions. We’ve partnered with EMC Security to offer homebuyers home automation that can control door locks, thermostats and lights from a smartphone, and even use video and motion sensors to monitor activity in the home.
Gwinnett County’s growth prompted us to begin construction of a new 17,000 square-foot administration building in Lawrenceville. The new building will replace the current facility that was built 30 years ago. We anticipate this building opening in July 2016.
Growth continues to require expansion and improvement of our distribution network. We completed construction of the Bramlett Shoals substation in Lawrenceville to provide additional capacity around the Sugarloaf Parkway extension. It relieves demand on a nearby substation that was serving 6,000 members. We also modernized South Jackson’s Attica substation to improve reliability, and constructed more than 50 miles of new lines this year.
Jackson EMC also responded to growing interest in solar energy. We signed on for a portion of the power from two large solar installations being developed in Jeff Davis County. And following the passage of EMC-supported solar legislation, we launched a new residential solar program to provide interested members with solar site surveys, financing and rebates.
Weather is the single biggest variable affecting your power. It has the largest impact on your bill and is the most likely cause of an outage. In February, this cooperative was hit by an ice storm that caused the most widespread and extensive damage we’ve experienced in our nearly 80 years. More than 128,600 of our members lost power. Our system was devastated, with 182 broken poles pulled down by heavy ice on the lines and falling trees.
Our call for help received responses from 24 of our sister cooperatives. That’s the spirit of cooperation. An additional 624 people joined Jackson EMC crews and set to work in single-digit temperatures. We are fortunate a FEMA federal disaster declaration made us eligible for federal funds to offset 75 percent of the cost of the damage.
Technology made this year’s storm unique. The smart meters we have installed reported 41,000 outages on their own. We had 18,000 members use our automated phone system and nearly as many use their computer or smartphone to report their outage. And while crews worked, members tracked restoration on our website and mobile website, which recorded nearly 900,000 page views.
Through a sophisticated network of about 213,000 AMI meters and computerized systems – Outage Management, Geographic Information, Customer Information, Supervisory Data Control and Acquisition – we monitor the flow of electricity through the 79 metering points, more than 13,500 miles of energized wire and thousands of pieces of equipment that deliver power to our members’ homes and businesses constantly. These systems allow us to quickly identify and respond to outages, remotely engaging equipment or dispatching crews to make repairs.
A new automated distribution project begun last year will continue to improve our ability to respond to outages. Through this multi-year project, we will replace around 200 manually operated switches with reclosers. So far, we have 134 in place. These devices monitor the current in the line and operate independently, as well as remotely by our System Control Center, to keep the power on. Once installed, they help keep more members from losing power in the first place, and restore power more quickly when outages do occur.
This is your cooperative. You are memberowners of this business. Because we operate efficiently, your cooperative’s electricity remains a bargain. Our board of directors and staff continue to conservatively manage Jackson EMC. As a not-for-profit 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 the end of the year. Last December, eligible Jackson EMC members received $6 million in margin refunds. This December, we will mail $6.5 million in refunds to more than 219,900 members who received service in 1989/1990 and/or 2014. With this refund, Jackson EMC has returned $108 million to our members since its founding in 1938.