As an electric cooperative, our top priority is always to provide reliable, affordable energy to you, the consumer-members we serve. Because we are a co-op, our mission is to enrich the lives of our members and serve the long-term interests of our local community –– and this mission has never been more critical than in recent months. One of the seven principles that guides all co-ops is “concern for community.” To me, this principle is the essential DNA of Orange County REMC and it sets us apart from other electric utilities.
October is National Co-op Month and electric cooperatives across the country are highlighting the many ways we “Power On.” Keeping this theme in mind, I recognize the essential role we play in serving a special community like ours.
Who would have fathomed in March, that the COVID-19 virus would amount to a test of our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities. Over the past several months, we’ve all been challenged to operate differently, and Orange County REMC has stepped up to help our members and strengthen the safety net for our more vulnerable neighbors.
As an essential service, and to ensure reliability of your power supply, we modified our operations to safeguard business continuity. Our line crews and other employees began working on staggered schedules to maintain separation. Some staff worked remotely. In the office, we limited and modified meetings and gatherings to allow for safe separation. We also adjusted our walk-in office availability and in-person service calls to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our valued members. In addition, we live streamed our 2020 annual meeting online, in order to continue “business-as-usual” without the risk of a large in-person gathering. For the health and safety of everyone, we think these measures were the prudent course of action for the times.
For our members impacted by COVID-19 who needed help with their electric bills, we waived late fees and service disconnects, while working with those hardest hit to make special payment arrangements. We also updated our website, realizing it would receive much more traffic while our lobby was closed.
I tell you about all of these efforts not to boast about Orange County REMC but to explain how much we care about this community –– because we live here too.
We’ve seen other local businesses rising to meet similar challenges during this time, because that’s what communities do. While the challenges caused by COVID-19 have been daunting, I’m heartened to see how everyone is pulling together.
In 1937, Orange County REMC was built by the community to serve the community, and that’s what we’ll continue to do — Power On.