Across the vistas and valleys of the Texas Hill Country, electric lines travel from town to town and neighbor to neighbor, connecting all sorts of Central Texans: from growing families in Cedar Park's booming suburbs to folks who like the small-town pace of places like Wimberley and ranchers who work the sun-swept hills beyond Junction.
No matter who you are or where you live, at PEC we understand you have unique needs for powering your life. You might be interested in generating your own renewable energy. Maybe you’re looking for a faster way to pay your bill or just want electricity delivered at the lowest possible price. Whatever your needs, you have one thing in common with every other member on the PEC system: the promise that we’re working beyond the lines to serve you better.
As your cooperative, PEC is owned, governed and, in many cases, staffed by members like you. We’re here to empower you, not to tell you what will work best for your family. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we go above and beyond to offer a wide range of options you can mix and match to suit your lifestyle, whether you’re powering your dream home or your dream cabin, a security light or a cybersecurity firm.
At PEC, you’re more than a customer: You’re a member, an owner with a voice and a vote. And we’re more than your electric provider: We’re your neighbors, your friends and your family. We’re you. And together, we’re PEC.
Central Texas is growing at breakneck speed. In 2016, we added a record 12,140 new meters to our system, bringing us to an all-time high of 287,422 active accounts by year’s end. New homes and businesses are lighting up every day, and keeping pace means more than putting up electric poles. We’re going beyond the lines to ensure our cooperative meets the demands of today and tomorrow.
In 2016, we invested in grid modernization, expanding our transmission and distribution systems, increasing substation capacity, incorporating advanced voltage control and more. A progressive wind contract saved the cooperative more than $2.5 million, and our new Empower Loans program provides on-bill, low-interest financing for residential solar equipment, all without subsidy from other members.
Our reliability numbers have long been enviable in the industry, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped working to make them even better. To catch system issues before they cause power outages, we work year-round to proactively clear vegetation from around lines and test our systems using the latest technologies. Last year, we also added an unmanned aerial system to our inspection program, saving time and money as well as reducing our need to physically access your property.
We’re going beyond the lines when it comes to your cooperative’s financial strength, too. We earned a AA- Fitch Rating in 2016 and were able to enact two rate reductions, distribute $6 million to members through our innovative Revenue Adjustment Factor and return $8.9 million in capital credits for a total payout of $99 million since 2010. Our controllable costs are down for the fifth consecutive year, and new efficiencies are further reducing that number.
PEC has long been known to go above and beyond the call of duty, and last year was no different. In 2016, we were ranked 15th by J.D. Power in U.S. electric utility residential electric customer satisfaction and made their most improved list. And for the first time, we earned a spot on National Cooperative Bank’s Co-op Top 100 list.
Since 1938, when local ranchers came together to found the cooperative, we’ve been dedicated to giving back to our community. We awarded $50,000 in 2016 for scholarships to area students, and $40,000 in community grants was awarded for projects that improve local lives. Our employees gave of their time and their paychecks for several causes throughout the year, including (with a board match) $291,630 in PEC United Charities funds to 321 nonprofits, and a 40-employee volunteer day that prepped 5,670 pounds of food for the Capitol Area Food Bank. We even helped deliver the cooperative difference to Haiti, where a three-man PEC lineman team turned on the lights in a rural village for the very first time.
We went above and beyond in 2016 to keep you out of the dark through improved communications via our website, social media channels, Texas Co-op Power magazine, bill inserts and more. And communicating directly with our friendly, expert staff is equally illuminating. We hire for excellence, and we value our team’s expertise.
Whether you stop a PEC lineworker, call one of our member services agents or shake hands with one of our community engagement representatives at a city chamber meeting, we know they’ll treat you like who you are: a vital part of our cooperative.
2016 was a landmark year for our cooperative. We added a record 12,000 meters to our system, firmly establishing us as the largest and one of the fastest-growing electric cooperatives in the country. Despite this incredible growth, we maintained our hallmark service and reliability, efficiently added infrastructure to meet increased demand, innovated new service offerings and continued investing in your communities.
Our mission is to serve you well. The PEC Board of Directors and staff developed a comprehensive four-year strategic plan that preserves our focus on world-class service and the highest levels of member satisfaction while keeping up with tremendous growth year after year. Our strategic destination is simple, yet profound — we want to be recognized as an industry leader by earning high member satisfaction.
Four major strategic themes and initiatives serve as the foundation for our plan:
Optimized Operations and Grid Modernization: We believe effective operations that align people, business units and resources are key to achieving success.
Member Engagement and Strategic Load Growth Planning: We must embrace new technologies that provide members greater control over energy use, reduce their energy costs and boost power resiliency and sustainability.
Service Innovation: As members’ needs evolve, we must consider technologies and services beyond kilowatt-hour sales.
Corporate Citizenship: We will continue to work to create thriving, healthy communities within our service area through engagement and support programs.
I hope you will read more about some of the notable achievements we experienced as a cooperative in 2016. Our success drives us toward an exciting strategic destination, one that pushes us to continually discover better ways to serve you, our members.
I cannot stress strongly enough how proud I am of the successes achieved through our employees’ hard work and dedication in the face of last year’s incredible record growth. These achievements didn’t happen by chance; there was a lot of careful planning involved. Building upon the foundation of PEC’s mission, vision and values, our team uses the board’s guidance to define the year’s actionable programs and initiatives, ensuring every decision is aligned with — and in the best interest of — you, our member-owners.
The benefits of these planning efforts are significant, and through them we were able to serve our members at the highest possible level — even as we worked to safely keep pace with our service area’s rapid development. Over the past year, we’ve expanded our rate options with lower alternatives, introduced new programs and payment options and upgraded and added to our infrastructure. We’ve also continued our commitment to help better our community, the places we all call home.
In addition, careful planning allowed us to increase our already remarkable system reliability and power quality; we’re now more prepared than ever to quickly respond to outages on our system and to keep you informed of our outage response progress.
In addition to our annual planning, our team is also looking to the horizon. Every day, we’re faced with critical decisions to ensure our system and services continue to meet member expectations — not just in terms of reliability but also in cost, modernization, programs and rate predictability. That means we’re not just maintaining and building new line; we’re doing it in a way that will prepare us for the markets, technologies and members of the future.
PEC employees are an amazing group of people. They embrace challenges, choosing to see them as opportunities, and are always moving forward. When great people come together with powerful systems, incredible achievements are possible, and there’s proof of that in the pages ahead. I hope you will continue to read more about our unbelievable year and how we continue to go above and beyond to serve you better, now and in the future.