For 79 years, Jackson Electric Membership Corporation has provided safe, reliable and affordable electricity to you, our members, throughout Northeast Georgia. Over the decades, we’ve witnessed growth in this region, advancements in technology and evolution in our industry. Through it all, we’ve strived not only to meet but to exceed your expectations by providing courteous service, quality products and reliable electricity.
As an electric cooperative, Jackson EMC is owned by its members and depends on you to help keep your business operating. That means you must be informed of how your company is progressing, how it’s operated in the past, and what it needs to continue providing exceptional service in the future. With that in mind, here’s a look at our past year’s achievements and our plans for the year ahead.
For the past four years, we have experienced a slow but steady growth, adding 3,000 to 3,700 meters to our system annually, including more than 3,500 new meters connected during the past 12 months. The past year’s new accounts included the addition of 3,163 residential meters and 409 commercial/industrial meters. Our new commercial/industrial accounts include the new FedEx ground distribution facility in Jackson County and a new freezer at Lanier Cold Storage in Hall County.
With these additional accounts, Jackson EMC now delivers power to more than 224,500 meters. Yet even with the consistent growth, our members continue to use about the same amount of electricity as they did four years ago—about 5 billion kilowatt hours each year.
It would stand to reason that, with the additional homes and businesses added to our lines, we would be called upon to produce more electricity. But just as our number of members has grown, so has their dedication to energy efficiency. It is evident that our members use the energy saving tips we share online and in our newsletter, keeping your personal and business power bills at a minimum while helping your cooperative keep costs stable for all of our members.
Preparing for the Future
Over the course of the past year, Jackson EMC has worked diligently to improve the distribution network that supplies your power. Along with updating two substations to increase reliability, we built a new substation in Hall County to meet the needs of new customers in the Chestnut Mountain/Braselton area.
Another way we’ve worked this year to provide more reliable service is by installing 48 more automated reclosers (viper switches). This new technology means that fewer of you will experience outages—and the time without electricity will be briefer for those whose power does go out after a storm.
As part of Green Power EMC, we now provide power from a 200 megawatt solar installation in South Georgia, supplying you with almost 17 million kilowatt-hours of solar energy. That’s enough to power 1,100 homes, and it allows you to support renewable energies.
Each year, Jackson EMC members contribute to the wellbeing of their neighbors by participating in Operation Round Up. This year, our members gave back $1,095,973 to the community through organizational and individual grants awarded by the Jackson EMC Foundation. These gifts help others obtain food, housing, clothing, medical services, counseling and a multitude of similar needs and services—and brings the total you’ve given since 2005 to $12,121,994.
To assist area teachers in providing the tools and technology they need to bring innovative learning projects and programs to their students this year, we funded $65,700 in Bright Ideas grants to schools across our service area.
Also, each year Jackson EMC sends four delegates on the Washington Youth Tour, an all-expenses paid week of leadership development, learning about U.S. history, and experiencing government in action at the nation’s capital.
Strategic planning led by our management and employees leads to the success of our cooperative, which results in benefits to you, our members.
Our strategic planning process utilizes your feedback along with input from our board and employees to identify areas where we need to improve. Strategic Initiative Teams consisting of our employees are assigned to research these areas for improvement, to study how other companies met similar challenges, and recommend strategies that Jackson EMC can take to become more efficient.
This year, one of our first strategic plans was put into place in January when we reorganized under Operations and Support groups. Along with the reorganization, our Strategic Initiative Teams also studied how we hire people and bring them along in the organization—and how we evaluate and improve our employees’ performance.
Much time and thought went into these studies with our teams ultimately making recommendations that, more than ever, will ensure we hire the most qualified people for the job—people who not only meet our criteria for employment but also demonstrate a passion for serving our members. These new strategies ensure that hiring and training good employees continues for years to come as we work to ensure a professional and pleasant workforce at Jackson EMC.
Our latest strategic initiative involves upgrading our core information systems. Right now, we utilize systems from several vendors for our Outage Management, Customer Information and other systems. On their own, each system works well, but we’ve diagnosed a major dilemma: They don’t work well together.
Based on recommendations from our Strategic Planning, soon we will begin work on an 18-month project to move all of our core information systems to a new vendor, National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC). Our new information systems are designed to communicate with one another and work together. One of the new services NISC will make possible is a Smart Hub, a self-service page on our website that provides a one-stop way to check energy usage, pay your bill, sign up for services, get rebates and more.
When the NISC conversion is completed in early 2019, we will have accomplished yet another major project designed to provide exceptional service for you, our members.
The Bottom Line
Since 1938, Jackson EMC has strived to provide the most reliable electric power at the most affordable cost to our members. Today, Jackson EMC members on average pay 15 percent less for electricity than Georgia Power customers. That’s the equivalent of $300 a year, and it’s something we’re proud of.
On top of that, because Jackson EMC is a not-for-profit cooperative, our members receive a portion of the funds left over at the end of the year after all the company’s expenses are paid. Last December, eligible Jackson EMC members received $7.5 million in these margin refunds. This year, the board of directors is pleased to announce that in December we’ll mail $9 million in refunds to members who received service in 1990 and/or 2016. These margin refunds bring the total returned to members since we were founded 79 years ago to $124.5 million.
As we approach a new year at Jackson EMC, our goal is not only to do what you expect of us, but more.
For our full Report to Members including financial statements, please see the September, 2017 issue of JEMCO News.