CEO Message — February 2021

Planning ahead: Construction work plan addresses system upgrades

Roger Andrade headshotI hope that as you read this small communique relating to your cooperative, you find yourself in good health, spirits, and re-energized with the prospect of the New Year. As we hype ourselves up to tackle new goals and create new beginnings, I am quickly reminded of the many different sayings that recommend we “never look back”, in some form or fashion. Although I can appreciate the sentiment from which such advice stems, I would argue that sometimes it is quite alright to look back, as it serves as a reminder of how far you’ve come or what adversity you have overcome. By no means are we “out of the woods”, in terms of the pandemic, but we can be proud of the decisions made that assisted us in navigating such uncharted territory.

As we move into the month of February, and it has already been quite an eventful beginning of the year. Speaking of looking back, I am still trying to shake off the 2020 vibes coming into this year, but that will not be a deterrent to our positive outlook on things this year. Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us throughout 2021. As you may have read in our previous publication, we noted several board-approved projects budgeted to undertake this year. If you did not have a chance to catch it, you are always welcome to access the Cooperative’s magazine pages on our website. As we develop projects for the upcoming years, we definitely take into account areas of concern related to outages, growth, and the overall health of the distribution system. In order to make it easy for you, our member-owners, we split those by area office, which can assist in cross-referencing projects related to the area in which you reside. Another noteworthy topic is that we are in the process of finalizing the Construction Work Plan (CWP). This is a comprehensive engineering study that assists in determining all of the new construction required to provide adequate and reliable electric service during a planning period. This document is also vetted by the Rural Utilities Service, an operating unit of Rural Development, under the umbrella of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is important, as it lays out the foundation for construction over the next four years, which focuses on maintaining, upgrading, and modernizing the infrastructure that delivers energy to your home or business.

I mention all of the above only to assure you that careful planning and methodical approach takes place when it comes to the system. The winter storm that hit us at the very end of the year was a stark reminder that extreme weather can wreak havoc on the distribution system. The storm heavily impacted the areas of Fort Stockton, Alpine, and Carrizo Springs (Eagle Pass). Fort Stockton and Alpine saw road closures that made it almost impossible to access the poles and lines, in order to effect repairs. The Eagle Pass area saw a different phenomenon. In addition to damages incurred by a lighting stroke on our lines, the effects of the outage were compounded by issues relating to “cold load” pickup. We have included a quick synopsis of what that is a following article. At any rate, we are assessing the effects of those storms and developing strategies to mitigate future occurrences of similar magnitude. I wish I could promise that extended outages will never happen again, but I can promise you we are making dedicated efforts to minimize them.

On a lighter note, we are very pleased that members are quite active on our social media pages and fully utilizing those and other means to communicate with us. I encourage you to take the next step, and respond to the Member Involvement Survey included with this month’s billing statement. We’d love for you to participate and help shape the future of the Cooperative. There are differ¬ent capacities in which you can serve the Cooperative, and all are important to the organization. I look for¬ward to seeing some of those surveys and being able to add more new faces to the list of devoted members who have served throughout the years.

Stay tuned in with us, as we have some exciting news of undertakings that we will be sharing throughout the year. Stay safe and God bless!

Roger Andrade