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Change is inevitable. In every industry, in all facets of life.
You don’t have to be involved in the electric utility business to know that things have likely changed since Medina EC was founded in November 1938.
At the time, the mission was to bring affordable, reliable electricity to rural small towns across South Texas. Here we are, more than 80 years later. While many things have changed, the mission has not. As a cooperative, above all things we do, providing members with affordable, reliable power continues to be paramount. The last 80 years have been busy, and I anticipate that the next 80 will be more of the same.
During 2018, the board approved and staff implemented one of the cooperative’s largest work plans to date at a cost of more than $12 million. The work plan details maintenance and system improvement projects needed to maintain and improve system reliability, which in 2018 included rebuilding 49 miles of line.
Crews continue to replace copper conductor on the system. Copper was the first conductor installed in the 1930s, when lines were built, and was used until the 1950s, when aluminum conductors replaced it. Since then, the cooperative has been working to replace copper lines that were already in place. They are costly to replace, so it must be done a little at a time and we are happy to say that the end of this very long project is finally in sight. We know members in areas with copper conductor will see improved reliability when this is complete.
It is hard to believe that we are still serving members with poles and conductors from the 1930s, but it is the reality of managing a utility. Just like you can’t remodel your entire house every year when new looks come out, we can’t rebuild the entire system every time new technology comes out.
Balancing equipment upgrades, line upgrades and other maintenance work with costs is a constant battle. Spending money on these projects is necessary to improve service and meet the growing energy needs of our members. Not spending too much—in essence, not replacing the entire system all at once—helps us keep electricity affordable, which is another need of our members.
Looking ahead, there are some big projects in the works that will benefit our members. At this annual meeting, we will be rolling out SOLAR by Medina EC, which will enable members who are interested in generating power for their home with a solar PV system another option to do that. Through SOLAR by Medina EC, we will offer members a more affordable option to purchase and install solar panels. For members who want to work with other retailers, that is still an option as well.
Over the next few years, we will also be working to upgrade equipment and meters on our system. As we mentioned above, there are still some poles and wires that have been on our system since the 1930s. Meters at most locations are from the early 2000s.
While it may not seem that long ago, especially compared to the 1930s, technology has come a long way in 15 years. Think about the cellphone you had in 2004, if you had one, versus the cellphone you have now. Meter technology is no different. If we want to continue to offer members the service they are expecting, those meters have to be replaced. This will be a large project for staff and will take several years, but we know members will see improved service and have access to more programs as a result.
Our vision is to exceed member expectations, and as members’ expectations continue to change, we have to make changes to keep pace. Looking forward, the cooperative will continue to balance the projects needed to ensure you have reliable electricity with an approach that keeps your bill affordable. We are involved in policy making at the state and national level in an effort to minimize the impact of policies on the pocketbooks of our members. And we will continue to support local communities and focus on the members we serve.
Our business has been built on making sound decisions for our members and communities, and by continuing to keep that focus, the cooperative will continue to thrive, the towns we serve will continue to thrive and so will our members.
We look forward to seeing you at the 81st Annual Membership Meeting and hope to continue serving members for 80 more years.
Do you know about all the programs and services that Medina EC has for members? 80 years later, we are still trying to offer what our members need to make their lives easier. Make sure you are using all the options that are right for you.
Have your account information at your fingertips with this free tool. Available at MedinaEC.org or as an app for Android and Apple devices. Pay your bill, review past use, report outages and more.
You can take advantage of rebates for water heater blankets, programmable thermostats, certain Energy Star appliances, HVAC tuneups or to replace existing central AC units. Get all the details and eligibility information at MedinaEC.org/Rebates.
If you would prefer to make payments ahead of time for your electricity or if you don’t want to tie money up in your deposit, PrePaid Electricity is a great option. Learn more about the program at MedinaEC.org/PrePaid.
There are five offices—Bruni, Dilley, Hondo, Rio Grande City and Uvalde—for members who prefer to do business in person. We offer many of payment options, including automatic methods, where we charge your credit card or bank account without you ever having to lift a finger, and levelized billing, where you pay the same amount every month. See details at MedinaEC.org/PaymentOptions.
Co-op Connections Card
This discount card can save you money on purchases with local and national retailers and on prescriptions. Details at MedinaEC.org/Connections.
Filter Change Program
Order discounted HVAC filters and have them shipped to your home or business. Then, get an email reminder when it is time to change them. Find details at MedinaEC.org. Just click on Filters under the Products tab.
If someone in your home depends on an electrically operated health aid, they need to be on the life-support registry. The form and details are at MedinaEC.org/Registry.