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Suwannee Valley

WE BELONG TO THOSE WE SERVE Business Office: 800-447-4509 11340 100th Street • Live Oak, FL 32060 Lobby Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday Drive-thru Kiosk Open 24 Hours

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800-752-0025

facebook.com/sveccoop

@SVEC_COOP_FL

www.svec-coop.com CEO’S COR NER

Hearing voices Michael S. McWaters Executive V.P./CEO

Sometimes it seems like the issues dominating the national news are disconnected from the things we’re concerned about in our hometown. While there are certainly policies discussed in Washington that affect everyone, the challenges we face day to day usually have more to do with ensuring we have reliable access to essentials like work, good roads and, yes, even electricity. Here at Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, we work hard to manage our system and make sure our neighbors’ needs are met. But sometimes there are issues, such as national energy policy, that are too big for us to tackle on our own. That’s where the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association comes in. They help SVEC work with other cooperatives to bridge the gap between small-town America and our nation’s capital. In this newsletter, you can learn more about our partnership with the NRECA and how they give us a voice in Washington. You can also read about two of our local students who visited the Capitol as part of the Youth Tour. The tour gave these young people the chance to see firsthand how lawmakers fight for the issues that are important to their communities at the highest levels of our government. We’re proud to be able to give students those opportunities so they can prepare to, one day, be leaders themselves. The connections between our small towns and our national lawmakers have never been more important. When we keep those lines of communication open, we can work together to make sure all of our voices are heard. 

currents September 2018

A TRIP TO REMEMBER

Local students represent SVEC on Washington Youth Tour Grace Jackson and Christian Rodriguez had both visited Washington, D.C., but their visit during the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour was a whole new experience. From June 9-14, the representatives for Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative had a full schedule. “Every day was jam-packed with different stuff to see,” says Rodriguez. “I’d been to D.C. before, but I didn’t realize how much of it I hadn’t seen until I went on this trip.” Both students had the opportunity to visit all of the major monuments in the nation’s capital and appreciated the expert guides who filled them in on the meaning and symbolism of each one. For Jackson, the highlight of the trip was a visit to Arlington Cemetery. She was amazed by the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Rodriguez especially appreciated the visit to the National Museum of American History, which contains exhibits about both the country’s political and pop culture history. “I don’t think people give enough credit to entertainment for what it does,” he says. “Our nation wouldn’t be the way it is if there wasn’t something to move people forward, so I thought it was really interesting to study and to see how entertainment has changed throughout the years.” Jackson and Rodriguez also had the opportunity to meet with Florida lawmakers, including congressmen Dr. Neal

Students from North Florida meet with Congressmen Matt Gaetz, Dr. Neal Dunn and Al Lawson.

Dunn, Al Lawson and Matt Gaetz, as well as one of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s lobbyists. Along the way, they even learned about what sets cooperatives apart from other electric providers. “A cooperative really is the pinnacle of what it means to be an American,” says Rodriguez. “It’s people who saw a problem — like there’s no power in rural areas and no one’s going to do anything about it — and decided to do something about it themselves.” The experience was formative for both students, who enjoyed meeting other attendees from around the country but who were also inspired to think about their lives after graduation. One of the standout moments of the tour for Jackson was a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where attendees sat in on a morning briefing in the operations room. While there, they spoke with Alex Amparo, deputy assistant administrator of the National Preparedness Directorate. Amparo, who also took part in the Youth Tour as a student, told them about his career and how he came to work at FEMA. “He said he was given such a wonderful life and he wanted the chance to give back,” Jackson says. “So he got an education and used the opportunities given to him, and now he helps people every day. That really stuck with me. I want to do that.” 


THE CO-OP

CONNECTION SVEC’s partnership with the NRECA While cooperatives are born from the communities they serve, which have unique interests and challenges, they share common goals with similar organizations across the nation. Coordinating the needs of the more than 900 electric cooperatives in 47 states would be too much for any cooperative to manage on its own. Fortunately, Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative has the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to help ensure our voice is heard on the issues that matter to our members. NRECA is one way cooperatives cooperate with each other. The association represents 833 distribution cooperatives, and 62 generation and transmission cooperatives that provide electricity to more than half of the U.S. landmass. By uniting with NRECA, rural cooperatives can pool their resources and achieve more when it comes to national legislation, employee training and industrywide development.

The Legislative Conference also gives participants the rare opportunity to speak directly with lawmakers and to educate them on the needs of rural communities. This year’s conference highlighted support for rural development programs, especially in the 2018 Farm Bill. NRECA advocated for enhancing key loan programs, such as the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, and the Rural Energy for America Program. In addition, NRECA urged Congress to continue prioritizing broadband development in rural communities by establishing a permanent loan-grant program through the Rural Utility Service and dedicating more funding to the RUS in 2019.

EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

For those who work in a field that is evolving as rapidly as the electric industry, staying on top of the latest trends and best practices can be a challenge. NRECA hosts dozens of conferences each year that can help employees at all levels of a cooperative stay on the cutting edge or take that next step in their career. Employees can attend NRECA conferences that have been designed with feedback from member cooperatives and that incorporate case studies specific to the cooperative model. The association also offers one- and two-day courses on topics like strategic planning and power supply, in addition to online resources such as on-demand webinars.

RURAL REPRESENTATION

One of the most significant ways the NRECA helps cooperatives is by representing their interests and those of rural communities in Washington. On its own, SVEC would hold little sway with lawmakers. With the combined support of the nation’s cooperatives, however, NRECA is a voice for the issues that benefit communities just like ours. The association holds its annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., to help cooperative leaders determine which policies are most important. The conference is attended by employees, directors and trustees of the consumer-owned electric cooperatives, who have the chance to discuss the most pressing issues for their area with colleagues and NRECA leadership. 2  SEPTEMBER 2018

U.S. Congressman Dr. Neil Dunn, Seminole Electric Cooperative VP of Member Services and External Affairs Trudy Novak and SVEC CEO Mike McWaters attended the annual NRECA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Suwannee Valley Currents


The Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program is one of the most popular courses offered by the NRECA. The six-week program is split into three two-week units and provides a comprehensive look at all of the functions and processes involved with managing a cooperative. The program has proven especially effective as a crash course for new cooperative CEOs/general managers, vice presidents, and others in leadership roles or those who aspire to them. And while the information absorbed over the course of the program is incredming communities, America’s ibly valuable for cooperative leaders, those and engines of economic who attend get just as much benefit from the rican homes, businesses, opportunity to network and share ideas with their colleagues from around the country.

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CO-OP COOPERATION

Giving cooperative leaders the chance to meet is especially important when it comes to coordinating safety and cybersecurity standards for hundreds of electric cooperatives throughout the country. NRECA initiatives like the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program provide resource guides, best practices and selfassessments to gauge and improve safety performance. The Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities Program also provides free cybersecurity guidance for all members. In addition, the association helps member cooperatives grow by offering tailored strategic and succession planning through the National Consulting Group. The NRECA

America’s Electric Cooperatives

also develops improvements to electric technology. For example, it began collaborating with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2016 on projects such as data repositories and open-access models of the electric grid. NRECA International even shares its expertise with developing nations so they can share the benefits of the cooperative model. More than 300 member cooperatives contribute funding, time and materials to rural communities throughout the world. NRECA International has used those resources to bring electricity to more than 126 million people in 43 developing countries, leading to improvements in education, health care and economic development. 

America’sElectric Electric America’s Cooperatives Cooperatives

From booming suburbs to remote rural farming communities, America’s electric cooperatives are energy providers and engines of economic development for more than 19 million American homes, businesses, farms and schools in 47 states.

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MARCH 2018 2018  37 SEPTEMBER


Happy retirement! Member Service Representative Janice Goodman recently retired after 45 years at SVEC. Janice says her favorite part of the job was serving and talking to members — things she’ll miss very much.

Drive-thru kiosk

A new payment kiosk is available in the outer drive-thru lane at SVEC’s office. ƒƒ Available 24/7 ƒƒ Payments post immediately ƒƒ Pay with cash, check or card

New team members

SVEC would like to welcome member service representative Ashley Johnson and apprentice linemen Brian Cutcher, Adam Ford, Clay Stratton and James Williams.

MEMBER

Appreciation DAY

Thursday, Oct. 4 • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. SVEC OFFICE LOBBY Stop by for treats and a small gift for each member!

Round Up® program to begin in January Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative will begin Operation Round Up® in January, when the bills of participating members will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Money raised through the program will fund grants to benefit local public school students. While we hope all our members will take part in this effort, participation in Operation Round Up® is entirely voluntary. Initially, all SVEC members will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they choose to opt out. Members who do not wish to participate can opt out at any time by calling the cooperative at 800-447-4509. For more information about Operation Round Up®, please read the feature article in the June 2018 edition of Suwannee Valley Currents at svec-coop.com under the news tab.

WIN THIS YETI COOLER AND TUMBLER! Pay using the kiosk between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31 and be automatically entered into a drawing for one YETI Hopper Flip 8 cooler and one YETI Rambler 30 oz. tumbler.

Upcoming Events VOTER REGISTRATION DAY SVEC will host a voter registration day at our office in Live Oak from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25. To vote in the general election on Nov. 6, you must be registered with the state by Oct. 9. SHRED-IT SATURDAY SVEC invites all members to bring their unwanted computer hard drives and confidential personal or business documents to our office from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 13. During the free event, SVEC’s document security vendor, Shred-it, will have trucks on-site to properly destroy the materials.

SVEC is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Currents-Sept 2018  
Currents-Sept 2018