Celebrating Innovation

Posted on Sep 20 2018 in Orange County REMC

Mark Belcher

Dramatic changes are transforming all aspects of the energy industry. Interest in renewable energy is at an all-time high, and ultimately consumers want greater control over their energy use and payment methods.

The prevalence of smartphone apps and “smart” technology for the home is increasing, and consumers and businesses are showing greater interest in electric vehicles. There’s no denying it: Electric utilities will have to make changes to the way they provide energy to accommodate these trends. Luckily, Orange County REMC is uniquely positioned to meet these changing energy needs because we are a cooperative.


October is National Co-op Month, which is the perfect time to highlight the many ways electric cooperatives are unique.

Cooperatives are locally governed, looking out for the long-term needs of their consumer-members.

Matt Deaton, general manager/CEO of Orange County REMC, explains that electric cooperatives belong to the communities they serve.

“This heightened community focus allows us to quickly adapt to evolving consumer expectations,” Deaton said. “Our closeness to the community ensures a better response to these needs because we are led by the people that we serve.”

Catalysts for good

Co-ops often serve as a catalyst by engaging their consumer-members to accomplish things that might otherwise be impossible or difficult. The most obvious example of this goes back more than 80 years ago, when electric co-ops brought power to areas where other utilities did not find it economically feasible.

Today, we have a similar situation with the lack of high-speed internet service in rural communities, and once again, not unlike the past, the community has pulled together, and their voices have been heard. This has brought about the birth of Orange County Fiber to fulfill a need within the community it serves. The photo below shows the many people who are working together to make Orange County Fiber a reality.

Cooperatives exist to meet a need that was previously unmet in the community, and they are ever striving to anticipate and plan for the future needs of their consumer-members.

Working with other community entities

Electric cooperatives often partner with local groups to bring economic opportunity to their local community. It is this facilitation role that is often the most valuable strength of the co-op.

The co-op business model is unique. It is pragmatic, mission-oriented and puts people first. Co-ops strive to be a trusted voice in their communities. Co-ops have earned that trust because, while not perfect, they always have their members’ best interests at heart and are determined to enrich the lives of those living and working in the communities they serve–now and in the future.

Mark Belcher
Member Services Manager

Pictured above, Orange County REMC employees recently met with the numerous contractors who will be helping to build Orange County Fiber. This will bring high-speed internet to our rural community.
Front row, from left, includes Scott Sherman, Ervin Cable Construction; Larry Cooper, P & C Contracting; Adam Livingston, Orange County Fiber;
Matthew Deaton, Orange County REMC; Donny Smith, The FiberSmith Company; Paul Hina, Ervin Cable Construction; and Randy Clark, consultant.
The back row, from left, includes Don Renner, consultant; Trenton Cooper, P & C Contracting; Darrell Burkett, Orange County Fiber; Cade Powers, Orange County REMC; Tyler Buccari, Millennium; Lawrence Turner, The FiberSmith Company; and Frank Barker, The FiberSmith Company.