by PEC Board President Patrick Cox, Ph.D
The views expressed in this opinion piece are mine and do not represent the official position or policy of PEC or its Board of Directors.
2014 has been a year of tremendous growth and achievement for our Pedernales Electric Cooperative. As the nation’s largest electric co-op with 8,100 square miles and 223,000 members, PEC ranks among the fastest growing utilities in the nation. Just this year alone, we added nearly 9,000 meters.
As a not-for-profit utility, our co-op’s milestones are not just about serving more members. We are working to improve PEC’s industry-leading reliability, our member services and our commitment to fiscal responsibility through an open and transparent business model. And PEC employees are number one when it comes to serving our members and all of our communities.
This year, as members, we began to reap the rewards of improved fiscal oversight – a rate reduction effective December 1. This four percent reduction is an important first step that amounts to a savings of more than $70 a year for the average residential member’s account. This is just a start, as PEC is already looking at further cost reductions that may be passed on to members.
Honoring our fiduciary responsibilities, the co-op also has increased its equity, received an independent clean financial audit, achieved a AA- bond rating and successfully ended the year by distributing $13 million in capital credits to our members.
We also recognize our duties as stewards of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. We have put a stronger focus on system design, energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy resources in a fiscally responsible manner. PEC is on track for renewable resources that are produced right here in Texas to make up 30 percent of our energy portfolio.
We are moving forward with new technologies and rate designs that reflect our members’ needs. Work is underway to offer convenient features such as a mobile app, an online outage map and an interactive voice response system.
Early in 2015, we will complete a cost-of-service and rate design study. An important part of this effort is to engage members through surveys, online forums and in-person discussions to learn expectations on our rate structures. The results will help guide us in developing new rate designs that offer more choices that suit members’ needs.
The PEC is truly all about its members. Throughout 2015, the co-op will be seeking additional input as we work to better serve our members and shape the PEC of the future. PEC is your business, after all, and we are here to serve you.