By John D. Hewa
PEC Chief Executive Officer
The 8,100 square miles of Texas Hill Country served by Pedernales Electric Cooperative ranks among the fastest growing areas in the nation. The area includes vibrant, flourishing communities, ranches and small town main streets and the bustling suburbs of Austin and San Antonio. People are drawn here by the quality of life, and the Co-op added nearly 9,000 meters in 2014. The region isn’t just growing, it’s evolving. The population of the Hill Country has become more diverse, and globally, technology continues to advance. PEC and its employees have been evolving to serve the shifting needs of its members. In fact, the PEC team has accomplished great things while holding the line on staffing.
Last year, PEC kicked off the implementation of a new enterprise software system that will bring technological advances to members’ fingertips. As the project unfurls throughout 2015 and 2016, we’ll be serving you even better with more convenient features such as a mobile app, an online outage map and an interactive voice response system. Behind the scenes, the new software will help staff further improve reliability, reduce outage times and discover new cost efficiencies while maintaining the personal service PEC members have come to expect.
PEC is a not-for-profit organization, and the Co-op has made great strides in strengthening and honoring its fiduciary responsibility to members. We’re proud of the work we’ve undertaken to increase equity, strengthen fiscal processes, receive clean independent financial audits and achieve a AA- bond rating. Members are benefiting directly from this financial progress, which made possible a base rate reduction of $5 for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours used, effective Dec. 1. The Co-op’s financial strength also made possible the distribution of more than $13 million in capital credits to members last month. Moving forward, we’ll continue working to further reduce costs and deliver real value to our members.
This year we will complete a cost-of-service and rate design study. We will be engaging our members through surveys, online forums and in-person discussions to learn our members’ expectations and desires on rate structures. The results will help guide us in developing new rate designs more suited to the varied needs of our changing membership.
PEC is owned by its members, so we consider member engagement and input as crucial, not just for topics like rate design, but for understanding how to serve you best in all aspects of our business. Last year, we hosted members at events like the Annual Membership Meeting and the Hill Country Solar Tour, and we’ve asked for your feedback via forums and surveys. PEC live-streams its Board meetings and gives members open access to information and meetings through video and audio on its website.
Throughout 2015, the Co-op will be seeking additional input from our members as we work to further strengthen the organization and shape the PEC of the future. I encourage you to make your voice heard in the democratic board election in June and to participate in PEC’s surveys, forums and other special events throughout the next year. While so much has changed in this region and within PEC, our fundamental cooperative principles — to serve you as best we can — have not. This is your Cooperative, and it’s our honor to serve you.