PEC Year in Review: 2023

Co-op weathers second winter storm in three years, celebrates 85th anniversary

This cooperative was founded in 1938 with the people of the Texas Hill Country in mind. PEC celebrated 85 years of powering the Texas Hill Country in 2023 by putting the focus on our members.

85th anniversary

Throughout the year, we highlighted former employees like Vickie Kilmer, the first female lineworker at PEC, and Annie Barker, who loved her time here so much that she kept nearly every memento she was given.

We also shared stories about longtime members like Robert Puryear, whose family has had the same ranch in Dripping Springs since 1939 and can remember when PEC came to power his home. And 91-year-old Marshall Kuykendall, who recalled when his mom threw out her wood stove the second PEC turned on the lights at the ranch they had owned since 1901.

To round out this monumental year, we partnered with local senior centers and senior advocacy organizations to celebrate alongside the birthdays of our senior members who were also turning 85. We thank the various centers and organizations for their support in this effort.

Winter Storm Mara

Looking back on 2023, PEC was tasked with a familiar yet unique challenge. Winter Storm Mara, the second winter storm to hit Texas in three years, caused significant damage to our 8,100-square-mile territory, taking down power lines and snapping utility poles in almost every county in Central Texas.

At its peak, about 76,000 meters were without power, and over 98,000 individual location outages were reported. It was a tall task for our employees, both in the field and in offices. As the storm continued, we experienced many difficulties, including ice and vegetation weighing down and damaging infrastructure and vehicle accidents that led to further delays to our lineworkers’ restoration efforts. At one point, a truck snagged a communication line and pulled down four poles, leading to an outage that affected over 5,000 members after many of them had just been restored.

Regardless of the challenges, staff immediately began to restore damage and assess and analyze the outage and damage data. They also began to review our emergency operations and are working to improve our performance for the next weather event. Read more about our operations and restoration efforts during Winter Storm Mara here.

Growing stronger

While 2023 certainly came with its challenges, our staff’s consistent hard work brought many achievements to the cooperative as well. We are proud of our employees and their unwavering focus to provide reliable and safe power to every one of our members. No matter the circumstance, we are always working with each individual member in mind.

Our cooperative again saw record-breaking growth in 2023; in November, we surpassed 400,000 meters. This comes just five years after we reached 300,000 meters, which equates to a growth of about 20,000 per year. Previously, it took 12 years to reach 300,000 meters from 200,000. See the other ways PEC grew below:

  • In the past year, PEC added a total of 18,182 meters, similar to previous years. This took us to 402,037 total meters.
  • We also processed a total of 37,382 member applications.
  • Over 15,000 Hill Country residents became PEC members in 2023, increasing our total membership to 341,514.
  • PEC crews completed 19,886 line extensions, keeping consistent with growth in previous years.
  • Our teams added 590 miles of line over the past year, bringing us to a total of 24,974 miles in our service area. Not only did we add more miles than we did in 2022, underground line grew to make up 29% of the miles in our distribution system. Over the past 10 years, that number has increased by 9%.

Always prepared

Over the past year, our crews have continued their work to prepare for the unexpected with extensive maintenance to our infrastructure. Our mission is to ensure your service is reliable, and we keep that as our focus every day. Over the past 12 months, we continued to improve our reliability by:

  • Completing 100% of our annually scheduled maintenance and repair jobs — over 2,000 orders, which included 1,086 inspections and 1,221 scheduled and unscheduled repairs. Work included maintenance, recalibrations, upgrades, and equipment replacements.
  • Inspecting 1,178 pieces of equipment:
    • Installed or changed out 300 pieces of equipment.
    • Repaired and restored 793 pieces of equipment.
  • Inspecting 51,921 poles:
    • Just over 1,070 poles needed replacing.
    • A total of 40,196 were treated to strengthen and lengthen their lifespan.
    • Over 3,500 pad-mounted transformer (URD) pads were restored.
  • Overseeing the targeted pruning of nearly 20,000 individual spans identified as highest priority through our new LiDAR scanning and grading software.
  • Inspecting 130.9 miles of line and capturing 5,088 photos with 407 flights through our Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Program.
  • Completing 5,243 work orders for office management and repair and six major construction projects in our offices and service yards.
  • Performing 275 energy assessments by phone as of December 1, 2023.
  • Deploying over 122,800 radio frequency (RF) meters into the system after our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter exchange campaign resumed in May. These meters enhance system reliability by allowing PEC to detect outages quicker and perform several functions remotely, such as reading meters and reconnecting or disconnecting power.
  • Responding to over 5,600 outage reports, including 3,791 after-hour callouts.
  • Training the next generation of lineworkers by graduating 26 students from our industry-recognized apprentice program.
  • Completing construction on our Transmission Control Center. This facility helps us to improve reliability through better management of transmission outages. It also gives us more influence over transmission built in our service area and more direction over transmission maintenance and planning.

Over the past year, you probably saw PEC vehicles on the road more than once a day. That’s because our crews were always out there working to ensure reliability throughout our service area.

In 2023, our fleet vehicles drove 6.5 million miles. This equates to 263 times around the earth or 13 trips to the moon and back. If you were driving at a constant speed of 60 miles per hour, it would take you approximately 11,010 days to cover 6,566,000 miles. We wanted to make sure every square inch of our service territory was running at its best for all our members, and we weren’t afraid of the miles it took to do it!

New website

We understand most of our members go to our site to pay bills, track outages, access their accounts, and start and stop service. To make doing all these tasks easier, we overhauled our website. We also added a digital assistant that can help you navigate your way around the site and added a language translation button.

Learn more about the new and improved site and its features here.

PEC Gives

Every year, our employees and our members support our communities through their donations and volunteer efforts. PEC continued the work of its Power of Change Program, which has given more than $392,000 to 93 nonprofits. The program, which allows members to round their bill up for charity, has 25,007 total enrollees and growing. Around 2,000 members enrolled in 2023.

Other ways PEC served its community in 2023:

  • Empowering our future leaders continued to be a top priority in 2023, as we awarded $100,000 in scholarships for graduating high school seniors and adults pursuing higher education.

    In honor of our 85th anniversary of powering the Texas Hill Country, we gave scholarships to 85 outstanding students. Scholarships awarded ranged from $1,000 to $3,500 to 73 high school students and 12 adult members seeking to further their education. Students may use these funds to pay for expenses at any accredited university, college, junior college, technical school, or trade school. Each scholarship is funded by unclaimed property from the state.

  • PEC donated $1,000 each to 21 local education foundations and three libraries, also funded by PEC’s Power of Change Program.
  • PEC funded $57,900 in community grants to 13 nonprofits in 2023. These were funded with Power of Change dollars.
  • PEC hosted “Bake Your Best” events in celebration of our 85th anniversary, where employees raised over $1,000 for the Power of Change Program.
  • PEC placed a bench commemorating PEC’s 85th anniversary at our headquarters during the holiday season.
  • PEC participated in a Read Across America event, teaming up with KXAN Meteorologist Kristen Currie, City of Leander Mayor Christine Delisle, Lake Travis Fire Rescue Firefighter Coleman Peavy, and “The Box Turtle” Author Vanessa Roeder, who read to students from over 100 elementary schools in our service area. Our CEO, Julie C. Parsley, also participated in the readings!
  • PEC participated in 150 touchpoints, including meetings, presentations, and event attendance with local government officials and schools.
  • We offered an “Elevate Your Nonprofit” workshop to local nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, and community organizations with 70 attendees and renowned power.
  • PEC sent local students on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for Youth Tour. Youth Tour allows high school delegates to visit historical sites, meet their representatives, and create lifelong friendships.
  • For the third year, we offered Camp Save-a-Watt, a free, fun-filled summer of weekly activities focused on electrical safety, energy conservation, and nature exploration. Participation grew again in 2023, as 425 little campers signed up to learn about electrical safety, energy conservation, and nature through weekly online activities, including games, projects, worksheets, and jokes!
  • As part of Camp Save-a-Watt, we hosted a Solar Car Derby on June 21, where 75 campers built and raced solar cars at our headquarters in Johnson City.
  • PEC hosted four Meet a Lineworker Day events across our service area July 19-24, where a total of 150 campers learned about what our hard-working heroes do every day in the field to bring power to their homes.
  • Through PEC United Charities, many of our employees — most of whom are PEC members and your neighbors — help support groups that provide vital services in our community. The nonprofit charitable corporation is funded with voluntary contributions from PEC employees and donations approved by our board of directors. In 2023, employees donated $284,245 to 240 nonprofit organizations.
  • PEC employees spread their cheer over the holiday season by donating 750 toys, 23 bicycles, and seven scooters during our holiday toy drive. The toys benefited eight organizations throughout the service area.

International Lineman’s Rodeo

At the 39th International Lineman’s Rodeo, held just outside of Kansas City in October, PEC Lineworker Apprentice Zack Gough earned Top Overall Apprentice and Top Apprentice in the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) Division for the second straight year. He also earned first place in the Apprentice Written Test and the Hurtman Rescue event.

Other apprentices also fared well. Daniel Wilson earned third place in the Top Apprentice REA Division, and Matthew Mabry earned second place in the Apprentice Written Test and fourth place in the Top Apprentice REA Division.

Our journeyworker teams also showed a strong performance, finishing in the top 17th percentile among nearly 300 other teams. Learn more about our crews’ strong performance here.

Looking ahead

As we get ready for another year, PEC is very much prepared to meet the challenges and demands that come along with the record growth we continue to experience. For over 85 years, our members have expected us to deliver quality service and provide safe, reliable power to their homes. We are proud to continue doing this, and so much more.

Stay up to date with PEC’s happenings on our social media and by visiting us at pec.coop. Members can also stay connected by accessing their account online to pay electric bills, monitor electric use, and report outages.

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