Not ‘goodbye’ but a fond ‘farewell’

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G. Thomas Upshaw | President & CEO

It was great to see the 4,392 members who attended our 2014 Annual Meeting May 3, but it was also a little sad for me, just as it is bittersweet to address you here one last time.

I’ll retire June 30, leaving day-to-day management of your co-op in the capable hands of Berl Davis, who takes over as Palmetto’s president and CEO July 1.

My tenure began 30 years ago, on August 20, 1984. It seems like only yesterday, yet at this year’s annual meeting, where we focused on your co-op’s accomplishments, we marked two significant milestones:

  • In 2013, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Bright Ideas teacher grants. We awarded a record $41,230 for innovative classroom projects.
  • Operation Round Up, funded by member donations, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Since its inception in 1989, you’ve helped us raise nearly $7 million for local people in need and worthy local causes, including Bright Ideas. Better still, the Palmetto model has inspired more than 300 co-ops nationwide to start Operation Round Up programs.

Susan Sobolesky won the grand prize, a 2006 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab at the Annual Meeting.

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See more photos at our Facebook page

Soft touch, hard job

A core cooperative value—Commitment to Community—gives us the softer touch required for things like Operation Round Up and Bright Ideas. That commitment also inspires us as we face the harder, day-to-day job of delivering the most reliable, safe and affordable power possible.

Over the years I’ve watched in awe as dedicated employees, like those in our June article Underground Project on HHI 68% Complete, get the job done even in the most challenging conditions, and do it without complaint.

Thanks to their steadfast efforts as well as board guidance and member support, your co-op has grown even stronger over these last 30 years. Consider what we’ve accomplished working together:

  • In 1984, Palmetto Electric had 1,642 miles of power lines. Today, our lines reach out more than 3,210 miles to serve you.
  • We served 26,295 consumers in 1984 versus more than 68,000 today.

Your successes

In my first Manager’s Report back in 1984, I told members about a new load management program that significantly reduced our wholesale power costs.

Members embraced it, and now Palmetto Electric leads S.C. co-ops in installed load management devices. We lead in sales of renewable Green Power, too.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you these few decades. Rather than a “goodbye,” I’ll close with a heartfelt “farewell,” trusting that as long as the spirit of cooperation prevails, our communities cannot help but fare well.

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