Accessible Innovation Stressed by NC Co-ops at National Meeting - Carolina Country

Accessible Innovation Stressed by NC Co-ops at National Meeting

NC co-op leaders set the tone among national peers

Accessible Innovation Stressed by NC Co-ops at National Meeting

Wynn addressed co-op leaders from the main stage.

Leaders from North Carolina’s electric cooperatives joined peers from around the country March 2–4 for the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). During his keynote address, National Board President and Roanoke Electric Cooperative CEO Curtis Wynn encouraged co-op leaders to develop and offer innovative solutions that are accessible to everyone.

“I want to make the case that, through well-planned and smart investments, we can make the next generation of electric cooperatives a reality for all of our members,” Wynn said. “It matters to the future of our co-ops.”

Wynn stressed the importance of working together across the co-op network, pointing to statewide collaboration among North Carolina’s electric cooperatives as an example. Via video, Joe Brannan, CEO of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, discussed innovative projects the state’s electric co-ops are taking on, including microgrids and community solar.

“Every state is different, but these partnerships exist across the nation,” Brannan said. “I encourage all of us to look for ways to work collaboratively — because as we work together, we are stronger.”

In addition to Wynn and Brannan’s time on the main stage, several employees from North Carolina’s electric cooperatives served as subject matter experts in breakout sessions: Don Bowman of Wake Electric, who discussed member engagement and beneficial electrification; Diane Huis of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, who discussed applications for beneficial electrification; and Thomas Golden of EnergyUnited, who discussed digitization as it affects co-op management.

At the TechAdvantage Conference, held in conjunction with the annual meeting, speakers from NC co-ops included: Laura Ertle of Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative and Evan Fitzgerald of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, who discussed electric vehicle charging infrastructure; Tanner Greer of Blue Ridge Energy, who discussed planning for technological change; and Chris VanLokeren of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, who discussed managing “big data.”

The 2020 NRECA Annual Meeting in New Orleans was the last national electric co-op event to be held before the spread of the coronavirus began limiting large gatherings. See below for more information.

Industry events canceled

Several electric co-op events originally scheduled through the spring have been postponed or canceled, including the annual meeting of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives in Raleigh. Associated board meetings will be conducted remotely.

The Electrification 2020 conference, hosted by the Electric Power Research Institute and reported on in our March issue, has been postponed until early 2021.

Karis Dean

Youth Tourist attends NRECA Annual Meeting

Karis Dean, a 2019 youth tour participant sponsored by Piedmont Electric, was selected by fellow Youth Tourists to represent our state on NRECA’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC). One student from each state was selected to participate in a national leadership workshop and attend the 2020 NRECA Annual Meeting. Read more about Karis' experience.

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