Thank you for taking the time and effort to review this report, as well as the other reports on our website that you usually receive in person at our annual meeting. I appreciate the interest you have in your cooperative and seeing it succeed.
Walton EMC’s employees and directors look forward to hosting you every year on the third Saturday in June at the Walton County Agricultural Education Center. That day is all about you, and we enjoy bringing you the prizes, entertainment, exhibits and activities that normally happen that day. That meeting also provides you, our customer-owner, with an opportunity to take part in the business of running the co-op.
2020 has been an unusual year, and the coronavirus pandemic has affected every one of us. The same holds true for Walton EMC. I will talk more about that in a minute, but first let me talk about how it has affected this event.
Out of concern for your health and well-being, our board of directors voted to modify this year’s annual meeting. With Governor Kemp’s health state of emergency still in place, it is just too early, and the risk is just too high, to bring together the number of people that normally show up. Seeing that, we have adopted a drive-through format that will keep you safe while allowing the vital business of Walton EMC to continue.
We appreciate your understanding and patience this year and hope and pray that the annual meeting will resume with its traditional format in 2021.
I’m happy to report that Walton EMC has continued to fare well during the pandemic. Your service has remained reliable as usual with no electric power delivery issues attributed to the virus. Our employees have done an exceptional job of keeping themselves healthy. As a matter of fact, they have even been able to assist other EMC’s in restoring power that were hard hit by severe weather.
Almost all regular work has continued with employees performing social distancing and other safety measures while they go about their tasks. Employees adapted well to changes in our workplace. The bottom line is they understand that you depend on them to keep your essential electric power flowing.
Because we can’t thank and recognize them in person this year, I hope that you will express your appreciation to our employees whether you run across them on the job or in the community. They are the lifeblood of our cooperative and delight in serving you to the best of their ability.
We cared for our employees and we also cared for you. We realize that many of you had and are still enduring financial hardships from these unforeseen circumstances. That’s why we did things like suspended disconnections, waived late fees, extended payment arrangements and offered other resources to help customer-owners through these tough times. We will continue to be even more flexible than usual for as long as is necessary.
I do have good news to report today. Your cooperative has continued to prosper and innovate since we were together last year.
Last year, I announced that Walton EMC had been chosen to supply Facebook’s Newton Data Center with its electrical needs. One of the things Facebook wanted to accomplish was to have their total power requirements served with renewable resources. Over the previous months, that has come to reality.
The first solar facility near Blakely, Bancroft Station, began supplying renewable energy to Facebook last December. The $150 million investment brings revenue to the local school system and 400 jobs, among other benefits.
Its 355,000 Georgia-made solar modules cover 1,200 acres and produce 102.5 megawatts, enough to supply almost 15,000 average-size homes.
But Bancroft Station not only produces clean energy; it also produces food and fiber by remaining in agricultural production. Silicon Ranch, the project’s developer, has contracted with a local farmer to graze sheep on the land under the solar panels. This double cropping system utilizes the land to its fullest. The livestock activity also rejuvenates the soil.
We have executed additional contracts for solar facilities to serve Facebook in Appling County that will come online in late 2020, Jeff Davis County that will come online in 2021, and Stewart County that will begin producing in 2022.
Other large companies have noticed our innovative approach. This lead to us serving the large customer choice loads of Nestle Purina, a pet food factory, in Hartwell, and an Amazon fulfillment center in Stone Mountain.
How do these activities benefit you? When large companies that use a big amount of power become members of our cooperative, they enable us to negotiate better contracts for wholesale prices. We become a more attractive client to power generation companies, and they want our business. This keeps prices at reasonable levels.
I urge you to look at the 2019 annual report also found on this annual meeting webpage. It presents a snapshot of our finances, growth, capital credits and where we stand rate-wise compared to the other 93 electric utilities in our state. I think you’ll be pleased with what you see.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance, have questions or want to express your opinion. Thank you.