Cooperative Leaders Share Insights at EPRI Electrification Conference

The EPRI Electrification 2022 International Conference & Exposition brought together more than 1,500 stakeholders in Charlotte last month to chart the future of energy. Several representatives from North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives spoke at the event, sharing insight into how cooperatives are leading innovation that enhances services to members and supports our Brighter Future vision.

Joe Brannan shares the cooperatives’ Brighter Future vision at the Electrification 2022 opening session. 

The second semi-annual conference, hosted by the Electric Power Research Institute, drew innovators from around the world to discuss the path to decarbonization and the role of beneficial electrification in achieving a net-zero carbon economy.

Leaders from North Carolina’s co-ops discussed the cooperatives’ shared mission of maintaining affordability and reliability while pursuing sustainability goals, as well as programs and partnerships with members that achieve beneficial outcomes.

At the opening session, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives CEO Joe Brannan emphasized the cooperatives’ focus on members in developing programs and strategies to power a brighter future.

“We are working together toward a shared goal – a decarbonized economy achieved through a variety of solutions at a pace and cost that doesn’t leave anyone behind,” said Brannan. “Our efforts should go beyond not leaving anyone behind to inviting all people and businesses to engage in new energy solutions that benefit them and balance the needs of the grid. We have a tremendous opportunity to innovate and reshape the energy industry from being the backbone to also being the brains of our society and economy.”

In addition to Brannan, speakers from electric cooperatives shared insights on topics ranging from consumer electrification programs, to grid resilience, to equity in the energy transition, including:

Travis Bode of Surry-Yadkin EMC and Todd Moore Pee Dee Electric led a pre-conference workshop on electrification in the agriculture and food industries, sharing details about partnerships with local commercial members that have integrated innovation and new electric technologies. Tony Greene of Hollar and Greene Produce Company, the largest cabbage shipper in the world and a member of SYEMC, also served as a panelist and shared how a pilot program with his cooperative is providing cold storage on trucks that has benefited his bottom line and led to a stronger relationship with his co-op.

Marshall Cherry, president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative, led a workshop on practical approaches to community decarbonization, as well as a panel titled “Equity at Scale: Programs and Partnerships to Advance Solutions for Impacted Communities.”

Jim Musilek, vice president of innovation and business development for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, spoke to audiences on two panels about agricultural electrification and utility programs that accelerating end-use electrification.

Nikki Hensley, innovation and business development analyst for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, was a panelist in a discussion on the environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles, and ensuring that EV adoption is accessible to all, including underserved communities.

Lee Ragsdale, senior vice president of energy delivery for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, led a panel on grid resilience, and the technology, planning and investment to support it, in a rapidly electrifying society.

Nikki Hensley speaks on a panel about electric vehicle accessibility for all North Carolina communities. 

In his remarks, Brannan shared that North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, which were also a conference sponsor, will continue to forge new partnership and innovations, and to take a creative, consumer-focused approach to provide the best possible service to cooperative members, now and for generations to come.

“Much is at stake as we take on the global challenge of decarbonizing our economy,” Brannan said. “Achieving net-zero energy across the U.S. by 2050 will involve an energy transformation that is unprecedented in speed, scope and scale. Working together, we can succeed in this transition.”