Longtime PEC member and employee fondly remembers time with co-op
Johnson City native and Blanco resident Annie Barker fondly remembers her 35-year career with Pedernales Electric Cooperative.
“I enjoyed my time at PEC, and I was very blessed to be hired on by them at the time,” Barker said.
Barker has been a member of PEC ever since she moved to her husband’s, Delman, hometown of Blanco in 1961. After a few years of being a stay-at-home mom, she wanted to start working to bring home some extra income for the family. “My kids were still little at the time,” she said. “I knew I would have to be able to type, so I went up to the high school in Blanco and took some classes.
After that, she began putting out feelers to local businesses. That’s when PEC came into the picture. In 1969, she started working in a temporary position in member relations. Soon after, she was asked to start a permanent position in the finance department.
“When I started, billings were calculated by hand,” she said. “Also, every account had a little card, and if you made a change to someone’s account, you had to write a note on their card.”
Things changed over the years, including bill payments and account security. As more operations moved online, she began to manage accounts more digitally.
“When accounts switched to where people could use autopay on their credit cards or through bank draft, that was a real advantage to the member,” she said.
She also recalled when PEC switched to automated meter readings, where members weren’t required to read their own meters to report usage to PEC, and lineworkers weren’t required to manually check meters.
A change she is fond of is the growth of the Control Center, which allowed PEC to monitor all of our miles of line to allow for quicker response time when outages occurred.
“It got to a point where nothing was done by hand anymore, and it was all on the computer,” she said. “Through the years, we were all able to adapt. I wasn’t one to learn any skill fast, but when I finally did get something down, I really knew how to do it.”
Over the years, she remembers gatherings of PEC friends, the fun they would have playing as the “Arc & Spark” team in local bowling tournaments, and how supportive everyone was.
“We had marvelous times together,” she said. “There were so many great people, and we threw a lot of great parties.”
Because her time with the co-op was so memorable, she has kept almost everything she was given throughout her decades-long career. From her nameplates and bowling T-shirt to her jewelry box and clock she was given at her retirement party, all the way down to the pay stub she was awarded after staying at headquarters all night during the 1997 ice storm.
“That storm was the biggest thing we endured as an organization,” she said.
But through challenges and changing times, the positive culture at PEC never wavered.
“Everyone got along so well. The morale was high, and we were just happy people,” she said.
It’s been nine years since Barker retired from PEC, but her retirement party feels like it was just yesterday. She still stays in touch with some of her old colleagues, and she will always remember the experiences she had at PEC very fondly.