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Customer-Owners Hear Message of Renewed Growth at Annual Meeting

Thousands of Walton EMC customer-owners and their families attending the cooperative’s recent annual meeting learned that requests for new electric service are on an upward trend.

Walton EMC's Jeff Paul, left, and Tassie Kirven, center, educated customer-owners on Walton EMC's innovative cooperative solar program. To alleviate the participant waiting list, a third facility is under construction.

“Georgia is growing again,” said CEO Ronnie Lee. “We see new homes and businesses coming out of the ground all around us. In just 20 years, our state is expected to grow by 4.6 million more people. That’s double the amount of people who moved here since 2000.”

Lee told the crowd that planning for the electricity needs of growth on this scale must be done decades in advance. “It became essential to build more power plants. Construction on two new units at Plant Vogtle began in 2009 and is still underway today,” said Lee.

Although the company building the plants, Westinghouse, has recently been in the news for bankruptcy, Lee said the decision to expand Vogtle was still a good one.

“The main thing you need to know is that whatever happens, your co-op’s board and management are looking out for you and will do whatever is in your best interest,” said Lee.

registration line at annual meeting
Although attendance continues to grow, registration lines have shrunk because customers-owners bring the mailing label from their annual meeting notice and the registration process has been reconfigured.

Customer-owners also learned Walton EMC continues to have some of the state’s lowest rates and -- even when costs rise and increases become necessary – they should remain reasonable.

“The recent [Georgia Public Service Commission] report for the winter season showed that we were one of the least-priced electric utilities in the state,” said Board Chair Dan Chelko. “I’m very proud to report that we are financially sound and our employees are dedicated to supporting our mission of reliable energy at the lowest possible cost.”

Chelko also talked about the challenge of cybersecurity. “The subject…comes up at meetings with other cooperative leaders at local, state and national meetings,” he said. “Guidelines and regulations are in place to keep our systems safe and reliable.”

Ladies talking about Operation Round Up
Walton Trust Board Member Brenda Brown, left, explains Operation Round Up, the co-op’s charitable program that has contributed millions to local communities by collecting a few cents at a time from participating customer-owners’ bills.

Three directors were re-elected to three-year terms. Those include Tommy Adcock of the Good Hope district, Dan Chelko of the Centerville-South Snellville district and Michael Lowder of the Farmington district.

Customer-owners also enjoyed entertainment from The Martins, kids’ activities, a health fair and door prizes. Crystal Paden of Loganville won the grand prize – a retired Ford pickup.

The annual meeting gives Walton EMC customer-owners the opportunity to hear updates and elect representatives from among themselves to run their cooperative.