She argued before the U.S. Supreme Court as the first female solicitor general for the state of Texas. Now, she’s leading the country’s largest electric cooperative as PEC’s first female CEO. We sat down with Julie Caruthers Parsley to talk about business, caring for PEC members, and what she enjoys most about the job.
You’ve been at PEC for two years and accomplished so much. What’s your vision for the cooperative?
When I started, ensuring stability for employees and the co-op was of utmost importance to me. Looking forward, it’s my goal to make certain that PEC continues to be a strong, vibrant cooperative. We need to be sustainable and have a resilient system that can manage any changes in the electric market.
What’s the best part of your job?
I have to say, it’s working with our employees and seeing their dedication to our membership. Everyone truly cares, and it’s a great feeling knowing we serve more than one million people in our footprint and that all of our employees do their very best for them.
Is there a current project you’re most excited about?
We have many, but what I’m really passionate about is our creation of a top-notch safety program and our partnership with the Northwest Lineman College (NLC) for on-site training. Our safety and training staff are working closely with instructors from NLC on this effort. There’s a national shortage of journeyworkers, but we have a great opportunity to recruit right here in our service territory. It’s going to make a huge difference to our members and our employees.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I have always loved to create butterfly gardens. In the spring, I like to plant nectar and larval plants, and have even gone so far as to bring caterpillars indoors to protect them. That’s why I’m excited about PEC’s efforts to protect monarchs, including our new monarch way station at our headquarters in Johnson City. This project features native plants and supports monarch migration through Central Texas.
What were some reasons for wanting to lead PEC?
Being a nonprofit and member-owned cooperative is what really drew me here — because the focus is public service. There is a lot of satisfaction in public service, and PEC has always been a strong company that serves a dynamic part of Texas. The idea that we didn’t have electricity in the Hill Country until after 1938 when other cities had it in the 1910s is incredible to think about — that is a huge time gap. We have continued to serve our members and communities since then in various ways.
We talk a lot with our members about conservation. Why is this topic becoming increasingly important?
The needs of Texas’ electric grid are high, and we really saw that this summer. It’s at a point where it matters when the call goes out to conserve. We really need our members to participate.
You’re from Baytown, Texas, but what do you like most about Central Texas?
I love the Hill Country! It’s absolutely beautiful, the people are great, and there’s always something fun to do. We’re experiencing historic member growth and it’s apparent that others are also recognizing this is a wonderful place to be.