Citing “this blazing pace of change” in the electric industry, Curtis Wynn, brought a Carolina brand of leadership to a national audience. Wynn became president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) at its annual meeting March 13. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives, serving 42 million Americans. NRECA is based in Washington, DC. Wynn will serve a two-year term.
Congratulations to Curtis, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, its members and the Carolinas! This says so much about the caliber of his leadership.
Wynn is the CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative, based in Ahoskie, NC, in the northeast corner of the state. He has 38 years in the electric cooperative business.
A decidedly personal, customer-centric touch was clear as he took the gavel. “Like many of you, I come from a co-op that serves a challenging population. One that is rural, residential, experiencing slow to no growth, aging, and economically disadvantaged. As a matter of fact, we serve the fifth-poorest congressional district in the country,” he said.
Roanoke Electric Cooperative was chartered on September 30, 1938. There were 317 member-owners when Roanoke Electric first energized its original 56 miles of line on May 29, 1939. Since that time the system has expanded to over 2,000 miles of line serving more than 14,500 member-owners in Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan Counties. (Source)
Electric cooperatives serve 2.5 million North Carolinians through 26 not-for-profit cooperatives. Coops are in 93 of North Carolina counties. (Source)
At Roanoke Electric Cooperative, “We are embracing change and responding to our members’ call to serve them and our communities in new and very exciting ways,” Wynn said. Roanoke Electric’s website shows the organization reaching out to customers with energy efficiency programs, academic outreach and a lot of electric information. Open and highly active communications seem a hallmark of Wynn.
Regulation has been a dominant feature of the electric industry. Wynn notes a transition. He told the NRECA audience, “Market forces and consumer expectations are driving change for co-ops, overtaking policy as the foremost influencer.”
Customer expectations define service. “The future will demand sustainability. Our member-consumers are seeking renewables and other measures that enhance sustainability,” Wynn said. “At the same time, disruptive forces in the market will require us to operate more efficiently. Fortunately, efficiency in transportation and industrial processes is creating major economic development and sales growth opportunities for electric cooperatives.” That nod to the electrification of transportation comes as there is increasing awareness of how vast electric vehicles can change power demand.
“The future will require grid flexibility. Deploying more options to maintain the balance between generation and consumer demand is a must.” Wynn emphasized the importance of, “Progressively placing ourselves on the member-consumer’s side of the meter,” as he acknowledged the way the electric business is changing. (ECC’s blog about in front and behind the meter explains those terms. Residential customers are behind the meter.)
A list of electric cooperatives in North Carolina is listed in Carolina Country magazine here.
A list of electric cooperatives in South Carolina is here.