Held at the Walton County Agricultural Education Center, the annual event gives Walton EMC customer-owners the opportunity to hear updates and participate in running their cooperative by electing representatives from among themselves to serve on the board of directors.
“I have some great news for you this morning,” said Board Chair Warren Few. “In the latest PSC survey, Walton EMC has the fifth lowest rates in the state. To say it another way, customers of 89 of the 94 electric companies pay more than you for electric service.”
Few was referring to the 2,000 kilowatt-hour level of the Winter 2014 Electric Provider Rate Survey conducted by the Georgia Public Service Commission. The semi-annual survey compares rates of the 94 customer-owned (EMCs), government-owned and investor-owned electric utilities across the state.
Monica Thomas of Bishop won the grand prize: a retired Ford pickup.
CEO Ronnie Lee expanded on Few's remarks by updating the crowd on the just-released regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on coal-fired electricity generating plants.
“Just last week, the EPA issued new rules for reducing carbon emissions that must be met by 2030,” said Lee. “In Georgia, we have to cut power plant emissions by 40 percent because of the amount of coal we use.”
“Our electric bills will go up because of these new rules. Unfortunately I, nor anyone else, can tell you how much. That's because no one yet knows what kind of effect the new regulations are going to have — even the people who wrote them,” continued Lee.
“But there is one thing I can tell you; no matter what happens, you as a Walton EMC customer-owner should still pay some of the most reasonable rates in Georgia and the United States. We see no reason for our cooperative to lose its favorable position when it comes to comparing our rates to other suppliers.”
Lee also reported that Walton EMC remains in excellent financial condition and reliability last year approached 99.9 percent. He also noted that the cooperative had a noticeable increase in the number of new accounts for the first time since the economy stalled about six years ago.
Also during the business session, three directors were re-elected to three-year terms. Those directors include Michael Lowder of the Farmington district, Dan Chelko of the Centerville-South Snellville district and Tommy Adcock of the Good Hope district. Later, an amendment was adopted that restates the co-op's Articles of Incorporation.
Customer-owners and their children enjoyed all the traditional activities that are part of every annual meeting: entertainment, Kids' Fest, a health fair and door prizes.
Walton EMC is an electric cooperative that serves 121,000 accounts over its ten-county service area between Atlanta and Athens. Because its customers own the company, service — not profit — is Walton EMC's primary focus.