Leaders of Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative (EMC) and its statewide association, Georgia EMC, presented industry insights at the annual Power Breakfast Tuesday, Dec. 7. Main items addressed included local and statewide broadband and solar initiatives as well as supply chain challenges.
Even before the pandemic hastened the push for broadband, Carroll EMC and cooperatives across the state of Georgia have been working to resolve the digital divide and find means to provide high-speed internet services to nearly 4.4 million rural Members. As of today, 19 EMCs have entered the broadband business as affiliate providers or through partnership agreements like that between Carroll EMC and SyncGlobal Telecom.
“EMCs are very eager to be a part of the solution,” said Vice President of Government Relations for Georgia EMC, Jason Bragg. “We’re really proud of the work that’s been done since our legislature and Governor gave us the opportunity.”
When Senate Bill 2 passed in 2019, the local cooperative and telecommunications provider saw the possibility of serving the underserved and have since started construction for Phase I of fiber deployment that will reach nearly 10,000 Members in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties. More recently, SyncGlobal Telecom announced its residential brand, Crossbeam Fiber, that will be the point of contact for Members interested in service. Not only will the fiber buildout benefit Carroll EMC’s Members with a feasible internet option, but it will also allow for better electric service with smarter technology.
“We talk to our smart devices using cellular right now, but we will be able to talk to these devices with fiber when the project is complete,” said President and CEO for Carroll EMC, Tim Martin. “We will be building out a private, secure communication network that will allow us to connect all of our devices and meters in the field.”
Bragg and Martin also addressed the increased interest in solar energy. In Georgia, a portion of all Members’ power comes from solar facilities powered by Green Power EMC, the state’s first renewable-electric utility with 35 solar facilities. For 2022, Carroll EMC’s generation mix is projected to include 5% of renewables allowing Members to reap the benefits of clean energy without the long-term investment.
“Our Members are looking at solar to power their homes and businesses,” said Bragg. “We want to help them find a way to do that and provide them with information to make the soundest decision. We’re not looking to talk them into it or out of it but provide them with the data they need to make the most educated decision as a consumer.”
“We are certainly pro-solar,” said Martin. “Solar is something that is an important part of our portfolio, and it’s becoming more important with batteries being a key component. We’d like to eventually utilize solar and battery devices to keep Members lights on even when there is a disruption in the system.”
Closing remarks confirmed the cooperative is in good health despite the supply chain issues faced by businesses and consumers alike. From increased costs of natural gas to limited availability of material items, Carroll EMC and sister cooperatives have contingency plans to make sure they can meet the needs of their Members.
“We’re supporting each other and working together just like we would during a storm,” said Martin. “We’re doing everything we can to have the needed materials for maintenance, new builders and potential storms.”
Carroll EMC is a Member-owned cooperative providing electricity to approximately 52,000 homes and businesses. The co-op serves Members in Carroll, Haralson, Heard, Paulding, Polk, Floyd and Troup counties. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information visit the cooperative’s website at carrollemc.com or follow Carroll EMC on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. Carroll EMC: Community Built. Community Builder.