Gwinnett Citizen News

Board chair shares information on nuclear plant at annual meeting

Customer-owners participating in Walton Electric Membership Corporation’s (EMC) Annual Meeting on June 15 learned that the cooperative’s board has been planning for Plant Vogtle’s impact for years.

“Even though Vogtle’s impact is still somewhat unsure, your board has been actively and aggressively pursuing any way possible to lessen its effect,” said Board Chair Sam Simonton. “We’ve been looking at this issue for years, continually adjusting our response as we learn new information.”

The remarks came during a yearly address to fellow customer-owners where the board chair reports on the state of the business.

“Although we’re doing everything we can, including putting money aside to lessen the impact, Plant Vogtle is going to raise our electric bills some. How much that’s going to be is still up in the air, but our best estimates right now are around eight to 12 percent,” said Simonton. “Every electric consumer in Georgia, no matter where they get their power, is going to see an increase in what they pay.”

Simonton reminded those in attendance that the board’s primary focus is to watch out for customer-owners’ interests and keep that ideal in mind as the basis of every decision.

CEO Ronnie Lee updated customer-owners on the progress of serving the state’s largest electrical load, the Facebook Newton Data Center, that provides statewide benefits.

“We executed contracts for two solar facilities in South Georgia to supply the renewable energy [for the data center],” said Lee. “The two farms will generate more than 800 jobs and add substantial money to each county’s tax income. The total investment will reach more than $230 million.”

“Our cooperation with Facebook is being noticed by other companies locating in and near our area. They’ve seen how we met Facebook’s needs and are interested in having your cooperative serve their facilities as well. Every one of these contracts benefits us all,” said Lee.

Lee informed the crowd that Walton EMC had a community impact of nearly $20 million in 2018 through the combination of various charitable programs (like School EmPOWERment Grants, Operation Round Up, employee charities and corporate donations) and local taxes.

Also during the business session, customer-owners re-elected three directors – Billy Ray Allen of the Mountain Park district, Johnny Allgood of the Southwest Walton district and Dawn Taylor of the Five Forks-North Snellville district.

Customer-owners showed great interest in new and updated exhibits as well as new attractions in the children’s area. They also enjoyed annual meeting traditions like free ice cream, soft drinks, door prizes, and entertainment.

The answer to the most-asked question after the annual meeting, “Who won the truck?” is Edward and Shelley Lynn of Watkinsville. The Lynns received the keys to a recycled pickup truck retired from the Walton EMC fleet.

Walton EMC is a customer-owned electric utility that serves 130,000 accounts across 10 Northeast Georgia counties between Atlanta and Athens. Its primary focus is providing exceptional service at the lowest possible cost.