North Carolina electric cooperative leaders met in Raleigh last week for the 2018 Statewide Annual Meeting. Speakers and presentations addressed topics related to the meeting theme, “Energy Solutions: Inspired by innovation, driven by service.”
This year’s format changed from years past, with a focus on fresh perspectives from our state’s youth kicking off the meeting. A youth leadership panel, moderated by Lindsey Listrom, Communications & Media Relations Manager for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, included Shakera Davis, a former Tideland EMC Youth Tourist; Jeremy Dewberry, Communications Specialist at Four County EMC; and Chetan Singalreddy, 2018 Youth Leadership Council representative and EnergyUnited Youth Tourist. The group discussed their goals and inspirations, as well as views on the role of innovation in communities.
“The most important thing about innovation is not being afraid to get out there and do something different,” Davis said. “To be innovative is to wake up every morning and say: Can I be better than the person I was yesterday?”
Day 2 included the Rural Electric Action Program (REAP) Breakfast, where NC Senator Paul Newton (District 36) addressed the crowd, as well as statewide organization business meetings , and an interview with keynote speaker and Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell.
Powell (pictured above) stepped in as CEO of the Vermont-based investor-owned utility in 2008, and has since led a transformational culture change there, putting customer needs ahead of all else and leveraging cutting edge technology to better serve them.
“What we’re living through is, on a good day, an exciting time. And on a bad day it should be a little bit scary,” she said. “We are all operating off a ‘grandpa’s grid’ model that’s been around 100+ years, and we’re doing it in a time of radical transformation. So really being customer obsessed, being obsessed with communities, loving who we serve, I think brings with it an obligation to fearlessly and radically transform how we think about [our] core values – safety, reliability, cost.”
“What we’re about,” she added, “is really accelerating what we believe is a consumer and technological revolution to community home- and business-based energy solutions.”
NCEMC President Dale Lambert, CEO of Randolph EMC (pictured below), also presented remarks during the meeting. Lambert pointed to an Aladdin kerosene lamp on stage as an example of innovation in its day, going on to discuss his co-op’s early leaders, innovators in first connecting members’ homes for electric service.
“So what story will we write? Twenty, thirty years from now, what stories will be told about the co-op leaders here in this room and across North Carolina?” Lambert asked the crowd. “We have a great opportunity to write that story. Strategically, we’re on the right track to ensuring we’re serving that member at the end of the line in the best way possible.”