From Scott Carlberg

Companies in the energy industry and veterans do well together. ECC has noted that each workplace – energy and military – share traits required for success. A discipline, focus. This is the second of five blogs from Energy Consumers of the Carolinas to salute veterans in the energy industry in the Carolinas.

In our first blog about veterans we introduced you to several employees around the Carolinas. In this column we feature one South Carolina electric cooperative that sets a standard as it recognizes the shared values that veterans and coop employees have.

Bob Pauling

Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative packs real strength in veteran employment, with about 20 of its 142 people being veterans. Mid-Carolina Electric distributes electricity in South Carolina’s Lexington, Richland, Saluda, Aiken and Newberry counties. It was formed in 1940 to serve the rural areas as a not for profit electric utility. ECC spoke with four Mid-Carolina employees.

Bob Pauling, CEO of Mid-Carolina, discussed veterans and coops: “I feel strongly about the person who serves in the military. The military person today volunteers to serve, to put their life on the line, it is a special kind of character There’s a a special gene, and it is a great fit. While we may be a larger electric coop, it is still family for us.” Bob recalled times when an employee, or employee family member, may need special help: “We naturally gather together to be there, maybe cover for them, provide comfort. It is a normal state of affairs for us.”

That sets the stage to meet a few of these kinds of employees at Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative.

Mark – then

Mark – now

Mark Bisset, a GIS technician, was in the Army from 2005 to 2013 as an intelligence analyst. He had three deployments to Iraq. GIS, a geographic information system, captures and allows people to analyze spatial data – maps, essentially – so an organization can make good decisions. In the military it may be where there is danger. In a utility company it helps track outages and even look ahead where there can be problems. Mark looks at repairs or preventive maintenance that has been done, on what pole or line, and when. That is all good data for the utility and helps utilities improve reliability and can reduce time without power when an outage does happen. When Mark left the Army he used the GI Bill to go to the University of South Carolina to get a degree in Geography/GIS. From there he hired on to Mid-Carolina. That was three years ago. Talk about skills!

Tiffany – now

Tiffany – then

Tiffany Reaves is a member service clerk at Mid-Carolina EMC. Tiffany provides a variety of customer services including processing customer payments electronically, by mail and in person. She handles various financial transaction needs and resolves payment problems. Tiffany also answers calls outside normal working hours (including holidays, weekends and nights) when outages occur.

Tiffany celebrates 11 years at Mid-Carolina on December 7. For 15 years she was in the Army Reserve. In the military she was trained as a chemical operations specialist, “The people in the yellow plastic suits who check contamination,” she notes. What did Tiffany learn in the military? “The military helps a person think-out situations before you act, but still be quick. I learned how to stay calm in high stress situations.” Talk about discipline!

Theresa – now

Theresa – then

Theresa Crepes is the VP of finance and accounting for Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative. She said, “The only reason I am where I am is because of the Army.” She enlisted after high school: “I had no idea of what I wanted to do, so I joined the military. In the military you planned and had goals.” Theresa spent 1981-1986 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the 26th Signal Battalion. After the Army, Theresa used the GI Bill, worked at the Post Office early in the day then went to school. At USC she earned a graduate degree in accounting, and then her CPA. Talk about work ethic!

After 20 years with Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, Theresa said, “We do more than provide electricity, we serve people. Being here is about giving back to the community, serving people.” In that way, Theresa says that veterans are great matches for coops. “The military and coops both have a sense of family. People who want to give back.”

Thank you, Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, for your recognition of the way that electric companies and the military work together.

In our third blog, ECC will feature a Troops to Energy Jobs program and some other veterans who keep the power on for us in the Carolinas. Our first Veteran’s Day salute is here.  (Subscribe to get our alerts about new blogs – check the right side of the screen.)