Vice President, Marketing and Public Relations
Public Relations Manager
Palmetto Electric Cooperative’s Touchstone Energy® Million Dollar Hole-In-One Shootout raised more than $13,000 in support of the Bright Ideas teacher grant program, which provides funding for innovative classroom projects in our local schools. The 3-day event (May 18 – May 20) took place at Old South Golf Links where approximately 250 Lowcountry golfers took more than 12,000 shots at qualifying for the million dollar final round. In the end, twenty-eight finalists took their shot at winning $1 million, but it was Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, SC who was the closest with a shot that landed just 29 feet 1 ¼ inches from the winning hole. Jonathan didn’t walk away empty handed though. His shot won him a $750 gift card from the PGA Tour Superstore. Second through fifth place prizes included rounds of golf at area courses. The daily winners of the putting contest were Ralph Tygielski, Allan Earnshaw and Eric Clymer. They all won rounds of golf at local courses and PGA Tour Superstore gift cards. “As a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, commitment to community is one of the core values of our cooperative,” said Berl Davis, Palmetto Electric’s president and CEO. “We were excited about this year’s event since proceeds once again supported Bright Ideas. What Bright Ideas does for the teachers and children of the Lowcountry is simply amazing and I think the golfers who supported the event agreed. I would also like to thank all of our corporate sponsors who generously supported the Shootout,” said Davis. “Congratulations to all of our Shootout winners, but I think we all know that the real winners are the children of the Lowcountry who benefit from having the Bright Ideas Program in their schools,” said Davis.
Local organizations continue to benefit from Palmetto Electric’s nationally-acclaimed giving program, Operation Round Up® (ORU). The Palmetto Electric Trust Board awarded several significant donations with awards totaling $67,500. Sandalwood Community Food Bank received $2,500 to create an emergency fund of clients in need. Meals on Wheels received $10,000 to assist in providing meals to home bound individuals. Coastal Discovery Museum was granted $30,000 to assist with educational programs, supplies, materials and scholarships. Also, the American Red Cross received $25,000 to better prepare for and establish resiliency within Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties Berl Davis, Palmetto Electric president and CEO, along with other employees toured the organizational facilities and delivered the checks. “We are pleased to support these very worthy and vital programs that serve the citizens of the Lowcountry,” stated Davis. All of these donations are made possible through contributions to Palmetto Electric’s Operation Round Up program. Participants donate an average of $6.00 a year by rounding their electric bills to the next highest dollar. “We thank the 82% of our membership participating in Operation Round Up. With their support, these important life changing gifts are made possible,” added Davis. Since 1989, $7.4 million has been collected in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton Counties.
Palmetto Electric Cooperative registered 4,829 members at this year’s Annual Meeting held Saturday, May 6 at Palmetto’s Ridgeland office on Highway 278, three miles west of Ridgeland. “We would like to thank our members who attended and helped make our meeting such a great success,” said Berl Davis, president and CEO of the utility. The business meeting focused on the accomplishments of Palmetto Electric in 2016 which included the following initiatives:
- The Power of Teamwork was the theme for the 2016 Annual Report. This was never more evident than during the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in October of last year. Co-op employees were complimented on their teamwork, dedication and commitment to serve during the recovery and restoration efforts after the storm.
- It was reported that Palmetto Electric is in very good financial condition, which resulted in record payback of capital credits in 2016, totaling more than $4.5 million. It was also reported that Palmetto Electric has given back more than $11.5 million in capital credits in the previous three years.
- On the American Customer Satisfaction Survey, Palmetto Electric scored a 90 out of a possible 100. This score puts Palmetto in the top 10 percent of all electric cooperatives in the nation in customer satisfaction and 15 points higher than the average investor owned utility.
- Construction was recently completed on the first community solar farm in the Lowcountry. A 120-kW solar farm was built at Palmetto Electric’s Ridgeland and New River offices. All 240 shares of community solar were sold within a few days.
- It was reported that Palmetto Electric will be returning $4.5 million in Capital Credits to members who received electric service in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2016.
- Four Directors were elected to serve on Palmetto Electric’s Board. Incumbents C. Alex Ulmer (Beaufort County Position 3), Carolyn Grant (Beaufort County Position 6), Jimmie D. McMillan (Hampton County Position 3), and Dr. Earl Bostick, Sr. (Jasper County Position 3) were re-elected without opposition.
- In addition, the following Board officers were re-elected: Jeremiah E. Vaigneur, chairman; C. Alex Ulmer, vice chairman; and, Eunice T. Spilliards, secretary-treasurer.
- Two scholarships were presented from Palmetto Electric’s Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE) organization. Kacie Godley from Wade Hampton High School and Tonathzi Noriega from Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School each received $1000 scholarships for their college education.
- Three students received scholarship awards from the Palmetto Electric Trust (PET): Davonty Dopson from Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School; Darien Mikell from Wade Hampton High School; and Winston Torin from Hilton Head Island High School. PET scholarships are based upon need, available funds, and whether certain criterion is met.
- Three high school juniors from the Lowcountry were recognized for being selected to represent Palmetto Electric in the Washington Youth Tour, a week-long, all-expense paid educational trip to Washington, D.C. The representatives chosen this year are Alexis Jarrell from Step of Faith Christian Academy and Alexis Smythe and Emily Todd from Hilton Head Island High School.
- Also, a new educational initiative was announced. Three rising seniors were chosen for the Cooperative Youth Summit, which is a three day, two night educational trip to Columbia, SC in July. Winners included Decker Paulmeier from Bluffton High School, Michaela Williams from Ridgeland Hardeeville High School and Sophia Topping from Hilton Head Island High School.
With the goal of making solar energy more accessible for all its members, Palmetto Electric Cooperative dedicated the area’s first community solar farm adjacent to its New River office in Hardeeville at a March 31 event. The cooperative committed to two farms, one located at the Ridgeland office and the other at the New River office. Construction began in December 2016 and was completed in March of 2017. Each site is a 120kW solar array and already producing electricity. “This is the right project at the right time for Palmetto Electric,” says Berl Davis, president and CEO of Palmetto Electric. “Community solar is a great option for many of our members. It’s affordable. It’s safe. And it’s hassle free.” Community or “shared” solar, means multiple people get electricity from a large solar array, offering a convenient option for consumers who want a part of their monthly power to come from the carbon-free resource. Palmetto Electric began selling shares, last December, of the solar farm’s generating capacity on a first come, first served basis. Pricing includes a $75 nonrefundable enrollment charge and a monthly fee of $13 per share. Subscribing members will receive a monthly credit of 10 cents per kWh for their share of the solar energy production. The 240 shares sold out in four days. “With this business model, the co-op takes care of the hard parts – the construction, maintenance, and upkeep – and members who want the benefits of solar power can have it,” added Davis. “And they get those benefits without the upfront cost, worries or headaches that come with installing a system of their own.”
For security's sake this holiday season, Palmetto Electric Cooperative is reminding the public of how to avoid scams perpetrated either on the telephone or in person. President and CEO Berl Davis says alert co-op members have reported both types of scamming in recent days. In the telephone scam, the caller poses as a representative of Palmetto Electric. The scam caller states that immediate payment is needed to avoid disconnection of electric service. As Davis notes, "Don't give out credit card numbers and personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with." If a member receives a suspicious call, mailing, email or other type of unusual contact, the member should end the call immediately and contact local law enforcement. He said co-op members also have reported being approached by individuals who falsely claimed to be with the cooperative. Davis said members can easily identify cooperative employees. “Co-op employees will always be wearing a Palmetto Electric Cooperative uniform and/or driving a co-op vehicle with our name and official logo on it. They will be glad to show photo identification to anyone who requests it,” says Davis. The cooperative sometimes hires other companies, including contract utility crews, to perform certain tasks, such as right-of-way maintenance, line construction and pole inspections. These workers should not need to enter a member’s home or business or request information from a member. Members can call the cooperative at 843-208-5551 if they have questions about their account or if they receive a suspicious call. Customer service representatives can help confirm a billing payment and balance due on a member’s account. They can also verify that workers are Palmetto Electric employees or contract labor working for the co-op.
Local organizations continue to benefit from Palmetto Electric Cooperative's (PEC) nationally-acclaimed giving program, Operation Round Up®. The Palmetto Electric Trust (PET) Board awarded several significant donations with awards totaling $184,500. Second Helpings, Inc., was awarded $67,000 to purchase a fully equipped refrigerated truck to deliver donated food items to pantries in Hampton County. The truck made its first delivery May 26th to the United Ministries of Hampton County. The PET Board also awarded approximately $10,000 to purchase and install a walk-in refrigerator/freezer to be used in the Ministries’ food pantry. Operation Round Up has been instrumental in supporting Second Helpings since the organization’s inception in the early 1990’s. “By making the purchase of their first refrigerated truck possible and now several other trucks, we are proud to support their mission and expansion of food delivery throughout Beaufort, Jasper and now Hampton counties,” stated Berl Davis, president and CEO of Palmetto Electric. The Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine received a $77,500 grant to expand their free medical services into Jasper County. The PET Board provided the clinic with a grant to renovate the facility and fund their first year of operations. The new clinic, located in Ridgeland, will serve individuals who are without health insurance, qualify based on income, and live or work in Greater Bluffton or Jasper County. In other PET Board action, Jasper County Council on Aging received $15,000 for an automobile to transport senior citizens and deliver food for their Meals-on-Wheels program. A second grant of $15,000 was awarded to the Jasper County Council on Aging to assist with their program expenses. “We are pleased to support these very worthy and vital programs,” stated Davis. All of these donations are made possible through contributions to Palmetto Electric’s Operation Round Up program. Participants donate an average of $6 a year by rounding their electric bills to the next highest dollar. “We thank the 82% of our membership participating in Operation Round Up. With their support, these important life changing gifts are made possible,” added Davis. Since 1989, over $7 million has been collected in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton Counties.
Palmetto Electric is alerting consumers to an apparent scam involving individuals calling members, posing as a representative of Palmetto Electric. The scam caller states that immediate payment is needed to avoid disconnection of electric service. Consumers should call Palmetto Electric at 843-208-5551 if they have questions about their account or to report if they receive a suspicious call. Customer service representatives can help confirm a billing payment and balance due on a member’s account. Credit card numbers and personal information should never be given to suspicious callers. If a member receives a suspicious call, mailing, email or other type of unusual contact, the member should end the call immediately and contact local law enforcement.