PALMETTO, GA, October 8, 2022 – Coweta-Fayette Electric Membership Corporation (CFEMC) hosted its 75th Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 8 at the cooperative headquarters in Palmetto, Georgia.
After two years of drive-through annual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CFEMC returned to an in-person event this year. Over 1,200 members registered for the event, where they were given the opportunity to join in fun, food, and fellowship all while learning more about the cooperative. Registered members received a member gift, an emergency roadside car kit, and were entered into this year’s grand prize drawing – a $1,000 CFEMC electric bill credit.
This year, the event offered entertainment for all ages, including children’s games/rides; “Little Lineman” learning opportunities; LED Lucy and Solar Sam character photo opportunities; prize drawings; adult bingo; CFEMC information stations featuring Energy Services, Operation Round Up, and True Natural Gas; Piedmont Healthcare Wellness Health Fair; and performances by Northgate High School Marching Band and Boy Scout Troop 2258.
CFEMC’s annual meeting is an important part of the cooperative business model. The member appreciation event brings members together to learn more about the cooperative’s business matters, meet CFEMC board member representatives, and participate in the democratic cooperative process by electing their board members.
Nominated by the Committee on Nominations: Therol R. Brown (Seat 1, Fayette County), Daniel C. Langford, Jr. (Seat 2, Fayette County) and J. Neal Shepard, Jr. (Seat 1, Coweta County) who were re-elected to serve three-year terms.
During the business meeting, Board Chairman Jim Fulton welcomed members to the co-ops first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019 and shared the CFEMC’s Board of Directors’ commitment to its members through meeting CFEMC’s main goal of providing member value, system value and employee value to all members and employees.
“Since our last annual meeting we have grown to more than 88,000 active members, which makes us the ninth (9th) largest coop in the state of Georgia and among the top 50 largest in the entire country,” said Fulton. “This year we continue to make improvements and additions to our technology capabilities, and our energy accessibility and availability. We continually review our plans and strategies for the co-op. This year that included upgrades as well as improvements to facility and asset management, cyber security, and a 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.”
CFEMC President & CEO Chris Stephens shared how the cooperative is committed to reliability while also exploring green energy opportunities.
“We continue to be committed to exploring ways to make renewable and carbon-free energy a part of our balanced energy mix, but we know that can come at the expense of reliability. Reliability ranks as one of the most important issues to our members,” said Stephens. “We must continue to invest in upgrades and maintenance of our distribution system while also making sure we have reliable sources of generation.”
With solar-power options on the rise, Stephens explained how CFEMC is taking steps to meet the demand for carbon-free sources.
“Clean electricity is also getting a lot of attention. It’s electricity generated from zero-emission resources, like renewables or other carbon-free sources,” said Stephens. “Our power supply mix already includes energy produced from renewables from facilities all over the state that includes solar, landfill gas, hydro and wood waste. Solar will make up 10% of our capacity by the end of this year.”
He also noted CFEMC’s participation in two new carbon free nuclear units at Plant Vogtle – coming soon.
“In addition to renewables, we are participating in two new carbon free nuclear units at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, GA. These resources will further reduce our demand for coal and natural gas. In fact, by 2024, over 60% of our generated electricity will be carbon free.”
Fulton went on to share how CFEMC worked to ensure the reliability and efficiency of renewable options through implementing additional solar amenities.
“We continued to upgrade the Michael C. Whiteside Community Solar Facility located in Heard County which is a part of our territory. This 1.68 MW community solar plant provides you our members the opportunity to obtain solar power for your home without you having to install and pay for your own solar panels. This year the Board moved forward with adding a battery storage project which will give us more efficiency and reliability,” said Fulton.
This past July, CFEMC set a new peak demand and is confident in the ability to continue to meet energy needs while ensuring the reliability of power supply. Stephens explained how inflation has impacted the co-op over the last year.
“At the end of the day, we must balance all of this with affordability. CFEMC is experiencing inflation just like you. Along with all electric utilities across the country, we are seeing increases in the fuel for generation of electricity, especially natural gas and coal,” said Stephens. “CFEMC’s board of directors approved a natural gas hedging policy in 2020 to help manage the volatility of the natural gas market and the impact it has on our purchased power costs.”
Fulton went on to explain how the Board of Directors were working to ensure low electric rates despite the increase in power costs.
“Earlier this year we were faced with substantial increases in power costs which affect over 70% of our budgeted expenses. We reacted quickly with staff’s input to make budget adjustments and other moves such as fuel cost hedging and reallocation of expenses to keep your electric bill as low as possible. We are not ‘out of the woods’ yet but we will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to keep rates as low as possible.”
In addition to providing electric service and member programs, CFEMC is also very concerned about the communities we serve. Stephens noted how CFEMC’s Operation Round Up Foundation has worked to assist several local organizations through the distribution of grants.
“This year, Operation Round Up reached a new milestone. Since its inception in 1993, we’ve distributed over $6 million dollars through grants to organizations, individuals, schools as well as scholarships,” said Stephens.
Lastly, Stephens ensured members that CFEMC will continue to build a strong future for the community.
“We were built and led by the members we serve. We’ve been tested by storms and pandemics, but CFEMC puts people first, not just during tough times, but all the time. Over the years, our charitable efforts, our ability to aid sister co-ops, our support of local schools and youth have built a strong foundation for not only the EMC to continue to grow, but for our communities as well. Building a strong future is, and will remain, a priority.”
The business session concluded with the awarding of the grand prize:
Willie Mae Derring was the lucky winner of a $1,000 CFEMC electric bill credit
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.