Since 1938, Jackson EMC has provided members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. When the first lines were energized on April 10, 1939, our community didn’t look like it does today. Back then, we served members on 690 miles of wire – today, our system spans more than 14,000 miles across 10 counties.
Through all the growth in our community and advances in technology, we’ve been committed to exceeding members’ expectations. As a cooperative, Jackson EMC depends on members engaging in the co-op. With that in mind, we share with members how we’ve been meeting the needs of the cooperative and how we’re laying the groundwork to continue providing exceptional service.
Today, we’re providing service to more members than ever before. That’s not surprising given that Jackson EMC serves some of the fastest growing areas in Georgia. In fact, in our service area, Jackson County is one of the top 10 fastest growing counties in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. Gwinnett, Barrow and Hall counties also continue to grow steadily.
With the population growth in our area comes new members to the cooperative. In the past 12 months, we’ve added nearly 4,000 meters to our distribution system – bringing the total meters we serve to more than 232,000. Based on meters served, Jackson EMC is the second largest electric cooperative in the nation.
Of the meters we serve, commercial businesses make up 10% of our membership, but they use 40% of the electricity we provide. Commercial businesses play a key role in keeping costs low for all members, while providing thousands of jobs to the area. This year, we added more than 450 new commercial and industrial members. We also added an impressive 28 million kilowatts of competitive and industrial load from companies that chose Jackson EMC as their electric provider. These new members include a new Westin hotel in Duluth and a new Southeast Toyota facility in Jackson County.
Preparing for the Future
The growth we’re seeing in our community requires us to continue improving and expanding our distribution network. In the past 12 months, we’ve invested almost $50 million in the distribution network to better serve members.
We added 144 miles of energized wire last year to serve new members. More importantly, we installed 47 more automated switches to our distribution network. This technology helps restore power faster when outages occur. We currently have almost 300 automated switches installed on our distribution system, as we work toward installing a total of more than 500.
Over the next four years, we plan to invest $208 million in our distribution system to upgrade lines and equipment, improve reliability and serve our growing membership. This infrastructure is needed as we expect to welcome nearly 16,000 new members to Jackson EMC by 2023.
In 2018, Jackson EMC members received 66 million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity through our partnership with Green Power EMC. Of that, a third was generated with solar power – which is equal to powering 1,450 homes last year. Through several new projects under construction in middle and south Georgia, we’ll add more solar power in the coming years. In 2022, we anticipate receiving 47 million kilowatt hours of solar power.
This year, we launched a new website and mobile app that makes it easier for members to pay their bills, view their energy use, report outages and sign up for services. Called MyJacksonEMC, this new tool is an opportunity for members to learn more about their energy use and receive information from the cooperative in ways that we couldn’t offer in the past. So far, more than 79,000 members have signed up for a MyJacksonEMC account and the mobile app has been downloaded more than 27,000 times. What’s also exciting about the technology that powers MyJacksonEMC is that it lays the foundation for additional enhancements in the future.
Thanks to members participating in Operation Round Up®, the Jackson EMC Foundation continues to make an impact in our community. Last year, Jackson EMC members gave back $1,128,073 to the community through organizational and individual grants awarded by the Jackson EMC Foundation. Many of these grants help people in need get housing, food, medical services, counseling or other services. Since Operation Round Up started in 2005, our members have contributed more than $14 million to the program.
We’re proud to support local teachers in their endeavors to help students succeed. Last year, the Bright Ideas program funded $51,461 in grants for middle school teachers to bring innovative projects to their classrooms. We also supported students’ leadership skills for those participating in the Quality Beef Show and Wiring Contest. Through the Washington Youth Tour, we sent four student leaders to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong leadership development program. Jackson EMC’s student delegates were part of the more than 1,800 students from electric cooperatives across the U.S. who participated in the Washington Youth Tour.
Today, our cooperative is very strong. As a not-for-profit cooperative, a portion of revenues left over after all the bills are paid each year – we call them “margin refunds” – are returned to members at the end of the year. Last December, eligible Jackson EMC members received $10 million in these margin refunds. This December, we’ll return $12 million in refund checks to members who received service in 1991, 1992 and/or 2018. These margin refunds bring the total returned to members since we were founded in 1938 to $147 million.
We’re honored to be part of a cooperative that’s been serving members for more than 80 years. And, we look forward to your continued engagement in the co-op.