CEO discusses nuclear plant, Facebook Data Center at Annual Meeting
MONROE – Thousands of Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) customer-owners and families attending the cooperative's 82nd annual meeting on June 16 received an important commitment from CEO Ronnie Lee.
"No matter how power costs are affected by Vogtle, your not-for-profit electric co-op will always look out for your best interest," said Lee. "That's the main thing you need to know."
The remarks came during Lee's annual address to customer-owners where he presented an update on Plant Vogtle, a nuclear plant going through expansion near Augusta.
"Last year...there was some uncertainty about what would happen with the project. Since that time, the Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously decided to allow construction to continue and the new contractor is performing much better, so the outlook on Vogtle has improved," said Lee.
Lee also highlighted Walton EMC's tremendously successful cooperative solar program. The experience gained from the program lead to securing one of the most substantial electrical loads in Georgia – Facebook's new Newton Data Center.
"Under Georgia law, Facebook could have chosen any Georgia utility to provide electricity for the new data center, but they selected Walton EMC. Our cooperative solar program...is one of the reasons. Facebook recognized Walton EMC's leadership in renewable energy, and a partnership was formed," said Lee.
An innovative agreement provides Facebook with the power supply arrangement they wanted, Lee said. The Newton Data Center will operate on 100 percent renewable power.
"It means Walton EMC will be working with developers to install hundreds of acres of solar panels on Georgia's electric grid to meet the new data center's energy demand," said Lee.
In his remarks, Board Chair Sam Simonton reminded the fellow co-op members why the annual meeting is essential.
"You share in the control of your co-op. That's why we hold this annual meeting – to elect members from among ourselves to serve on the co-op's board," he said.
S imonton added that the customer-owned electric cooperative is both financially and operationally sound.
"Walton EMC returned another $6 million [in capital credits] to customer-owners again last December," he said. Our operations are also in good shape with reliability continuing to approach 99.9 percent."
In other business, customer-owners elected Jason Sidwell of Rutledge as the new director for the Rutledge-Bostwick-Apalachee District. Director Warren Few retired and did not seek re-election.
Attendees enjoyed the traditional mainstays of the annual meeting: prizes, entertainment, children's activities, Cokes and ice cream, exhibits, a health fair and the ubiquitous white bucket filled with LED bulbs and other items.
To answer the most-asked question after the annual meeting, Beverly Johnson of Snellville won the grand prize – a recycled pickup truck.
Walton EMC is a customer-owned electric utility that serves 128,000 accounts across 10 Northeast Georgia counties between Atlanta and Athens. Its primary focus is providing exceptional service at the lowest possible cost.