G. Thomas Upshaw | President & CEO
ON JULY 4 we celebrated our nation’s independence. In the midst of apple pies and hot dogs, fireworks shows and parades, I can’t help but think about the independent streak that inspired groups of farmers around America’s countryside to band together and improve their quality of life.
Aside from President Franklin Roosevelt’s promise of federal aid in the form of low-interest loans and engineering expertise, rural Americans didn’t have much help in bringing electricity to their homes. They pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps and did it themselves.
This independence not only tends to inspire cooperatives; it’s a guiding principle. The Fourth Cooperative Principle, “Autonomy and Independence,” means that no matter what contracts and alliances Palmetto Electric Cooperative might enter into, we will always remain an independent entity.
Each year, Palmetto Electric’s Annual Meeting of Members becomes an independence celebration. You hear reports from the co-op’s leadership and, in short order, we take care of co-op business. We all enjoy that All-American favorite, hot dogs, and have some fun. I would like to take this time to thank those of you who attended this year’s Annual Meeting. Despite cool and rainy weather, we had more than 3,800 members join us at the meeting. That’s co-op spirit for you.
Electric cooperatives form a vast network across the country, from coast to coast. Co-op lines are strung in 47 states, serving 42 million people—a different world from 1935, when much of America remained dark. This Fourth of July, as we recognized the hard-fought war that created the United States, I also tipped my hat to Palmetto Electric’s founders, who beat incredible odds to make life better for themselves and their neighbors.
We look forward to seeing you again next year at our 74th Annual Meeting when we’ll celebrate our co-op’s autonomy and independence all over again.
Central Electric Power Cooperative provides wholesale power aggregation services to Palmetto Electric and 19 other electric distribution co-ops in South Carolina through purchase agreements with Santee Cooper, Duke Energy Carolinas and other power providers. In early May, Palmetto Electric leaders signed a new contract with Central. Shown here are Palmetto Electric Board Chairman Jeremiah E. Vaigneur (seated, left) with Central Board Chairman Lawrence J. Hinz. Behind them (from left) are Palmetto Electric President and CEO G. Thomas Upshaw, Board Member James L. Rowe and Central President and CEO Ronald J. Calcaterra. Later in May, Central signed a multi-billion-dollar, costsaving extension of an agreement to purchase power from Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility.