MINUTES OF EIGHTY-THIRD ANNUAL MEETING
The 83rd Annual Meeting of Colquitt Electric Membership Corporation was held Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia. At 1:30 p.m. the American Flag was presented, and Mr. Danny Nichols led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mrs. Stephanie Walker sang the National Anthem; and immediately following this, Mr. Huey Hiers, President, called the meeting to order.
The invocation was given by Rev. Sally Flowers, pastor of the Quitman United Methodist Church.
Mrs. Mary Beth Watson, Sunbelt Expo VP of Accounting and Administration, greeted Colquitt EMC members and guests.
On behalf of Brooks County as the host for this year’s meeting, Ms. Tiffany Holmes, Director of the Brooks County Development Authority, extended a warm welcome to everyone in attendance.
Mr. Danny Nichols, Colquitt EMC General Manager, expressed his thanks to those who contributed to the success of the Annual Meeting; i.e., Rev. Flowers, Mrs. Watson, Ms. Holmes, “The Diamonds,” Mrs. Walker, the Colquitt County FFA, Colquitt County Sheriff’s deputies, all Health Fair participants, South Georgia EMS, Lasseter Tractor, those who helped with the displays and games, and all Colquitt EMC employees. He recognized the special guests and retirees in attendance and introduced the Colquitt EMC Board of Directors and Attorney.
At this time Mr. James Thagard, Attorney, acknowledged a motion and second from the members to waive the reading of the minutes of the previous Annual Meeting. He read the
September 20, 2019, Notice of Mailing.
Mr. Thagard stated the 2019 Nominating Committee met on June 6, 2019, and nominated the following candidates for directorate positions: Mr. Huey Hiers from District 1 Colquitt County; Mr. Tommy Cothron from District 5 Lowndes County; and from District 6 Tift County, Mr. B. Don Copeland. According to the Colquitt EMC Bylaws if the nomination process yields only one nominee for a directorate position, he is deemed elected; and no vote is required. Therefore, Mr. Huey Hiers will continue to serve as the director for Colquitt County. Mr. Tommy Cothron and Mr. B. Don Copeland will continue to serve as directors for Lowndes and Tift Counties, respectively.
Mr. Huey Hiers gave the President’s report. Ms. Brenda Jarrett presented the financial report for the past 12 months. A copy of the financial report is attached to, and becomes a part of, these minutes.
Recognized for 25 years of service were: Joann Homer, Les Moore, Angela Rodney, Jan Williford, and Michael Young. Mr. Nichols recognized the following employees for 30 years of service: Justin Brown, Roger Touchton, and Joey Weakland. Bruce Bailey, Dixie Lightfoot, and Jimmy Williams were recognized for 40 years of service. Mr. Sidney Zipperer, Manager of Operations, recognized Ken Busby, and Reeves Foy for 40 years of service and Terry Lewis for 45 years of employment. Mr. Foy and Mr. Lewis plan to retire in 2020.
Mr. Nichols gave his yearly update. He told the members that Colquitt EMC and its employees always strive to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost. He explained this
EMC motto has two separate parts. He started with the second part, “the lowest possible cost.” The Georgia Public Service Commission requests rate information from all utility providers in the state. The rate information is requested for residential rates during the months of January and June. This is asked for in two separate months to get both a “Winter Rate” and a “Summer Rate.” The utilities that provide rates include the Investor Owned Utility (IOU), the city systems, and all EMC’s.
The latest survey was done in June, 2019. In this survey, Colquitt EMC was ranked number seven out of 41 EMC’s and Georgia Power. In fact, our residential rate is 12% lower than the average EMC or Georgia Power.
As he talked about rates, Mr. Nichols stated it is our understanding that Georgia Power has filed a rate increase proposal with the Georgia PSC. They are seeking an approximate seven percent increase in rates. Colquitt EMC has no plans to increase its rates. We are able to meet all of our financial needs at the current rate, which is already quite low in comparison.
Recently, a survey was conducted by our Cooperative power supplier, Oglethorpe Power Corporation. This survey compared the monthly service charge for each EMC and Georgia Power. The service charges ranged from a low of $10 to a high of $35. Mr. Nichols reported that Colquitt EMC was at the $10 per month level. Georgia Power was also at $10, but the proposed rate increase will move that up to approximately $17.
One other way Colquitt EMC provides service at the lowest possible cost is found in what we charge to build facilities to our members. Utility providers charge various amounts to build their power lines or distribution facilities to serve their customers. Based on our knowledge of adjacent utility companies, we know that what we charge to build lines for our members is not as high as the amount that other utilities charge.
Mr. Nichols stated there is one final thing to remember as we keep our rates very low. We are still able to retire our capital credits on a 20-year rotation.
Mr. Nichols then circled back to the first part of our motto, “the best possible service.” One thing that statement means is keeping the lights on. Colquitt EMC has a large power distribution system. In fact, it is the fourth largest among all EMC’s in Georgia. Power flows through 29 substations, down approximately 9,000 miles of line to serve 68,000 meters. Keeping power on for that entire system is no small job. We constantly pay attention to our system. As a former engineer, he informed the members that the system is engineered to handle the hottest of summers and the coldest of winters. It is during those times when the load on our system is the largest, that our concern for keeping the lights on is the greatest. In addition to planning the system correctly, it is important to have it built properly. Colquitt EMC has construction crews, servicemen, and contractors that build this reliable system. Another aspect of “keeping the lights on” is the maintenance of our system. Colquitt EMC employs right-of-way workers and right-of-way contractors to help keep those 9,000 miles as clear from trees and underbrush as possible. You can engineer the best system and build the best system; but if you don’t keep it maintained, then you will not keep the lights on. He reminded the members that when our maintenance or right-of-way crews are in their area, he hopes they realize they are there to help keep the lights on.
Colquitt EMC wants to provide good customer service when the lights go out. We maintain an operations center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees are able to dispatch our construction/
servicemen to any outage. Colquitt EMC serves the majority of six counties and partially into a seventh. We maintain personnel on call in each of those six counties on a 24-hour basis. We do this to insure a prompt response to any outage occurring in any of those counties. As a member of Colquitt EMC, Mr. Nichols stated he is proud of the employees that go to work in the worst of conditions to restore service to our members. He commended those employees at this time.
There are things that all utilities agree on, whether they are an EMC, a municipality, or an investor owned. They want to have the lowest possible rate; they want to keep the lights on; and they want to restore power as soon as possible in the event of an outage. We think Colquitt EMC does an exceptional job at all of these.
One last part of “the best possible service” is good customer service. Mr. Nichols believes that good customer service includes accessible customer service. Colquitt EMC maintains offices in all the counties where we serve. We have six offices; and these are in Adel, Moultrie, Nashville, Quitman, Tifton, and Valdosta. We maintain more offices than any other EMC in Georgia. Colquitt EMC believes in keeping a presence in all the communities we serve. We believe that having an office in each county, staffed by servicemen and customer service representatives is the way to give good customer service. Earlier Mr. Nichols mentioned that most utilities agree on most things. However, there is one area where there is not agreement. A few years ago, the investor owned utility closed all of its customer service offices. We believe in having our offices open and staffed. You can pay your bill with an app, on line, over the phone, by mail, and over the counter at our offices.
Speaking of our offices, Mr. Nichols informed the members that we have worked to improve our offices to give better service as we grow as an EMC. About 14 years ago, we expanded our Valdosta Office. About 10 years ago, we expanded our Tifton Office. In the past 5 years, we have purchased a new office for Nashville and performed remodeling in our Adel and Quitman offices as well. In regards to our headquarters facility in Moultrie, we have operated out of a building that was constructed in 1949. Our operations building was a renovated concrete business from the mid-seventies. About nine years ago, Colquitt EMC began a slow program of upgrading our facilities in Moultrie. We now have a proper mechanics shop, a secure Operations Center, and more warehouse space. We have finally replaced our 70-year-old headquarters building with a new facility right across the street. After 70 years, we felt we had gotten all the value we could out of the old building.
The same planning goes into our facilities as it does into our distribution system. It was time to replace our old building. Mr. Nichols shared a good story about one of our employees, Mr. Jimmy Williams, who was at the Post Office in Moultrie and someone asked him about the new headquarters building. The person said to Jimmy, “I guess y’all are borrowing all kinds of money to build everything.” Jimmy replied, “You don’t see a bank sign out front. We are paying for it as we go.” And that is true. We have not borrowed one dollar to pay for any of our facility upgrades. We have paid for it as the work has been done. These upgrades have not and will not raise our rates at all.
In summary, Mr. Nichols believes that the statement, “the best possible service at the lowest possible cost” is not only a goal, but it is our mission.
After awarding a large number of nice prizes, the meeting was adjourned.