“RESILIENT. DIVERSIFIED. STRONG.” These capture the combined attributes of our employees and organization that made it a successful year for GVEC members.
Hurricane Harvey was the largest natural disaster GVEC has faced in its 79-year history. While we’ve had some close calls, in our experience, nothing has impacted our members and employees more. August 25–30, 2017, will forever be a historical time for this Cooperative.
For years, we’ve been prepared with an emergency operations plan for facing catastrophic conditions. Drills have been run, meetings have taken place and procedures documented. We were as prepared as we could be for an event of this magnitude, but what amazed us even more than the storm was the teamwork and support that transpired throughout those five days. We cannot say enough good things about the members and employees of GVEC who showed outstanding patience and character through it all. The old saying “stronger together” was never more evident than during this event.
In the months following Harvey, we moved forward with discontinuing appliance sales and service through GVEC Home. It was a difficult decision, but a necessary one, as that portion of our business could no longer sustain itself primarily due to competition with larger box store prices. This gave way for the introduction of Electrician services alongside AC/Heating sales, maintenance, and 24/7 repair as well as Solar sales and installation. Business continues to build in all three of these areas. The shift from appliances has allowed us to focus on the services that, we believe, will more positively impact our customers and the overall business.
As GVEC Home transitioned its services, GVEC.net continued to expand Fiber to the Home Internet into new areas in Guadalupe, Comal and Wilson counties. We are now serving more than 10,000 customers through Fiber and Wireless services and continue to grow daily. To help our more rural members access higher speeds, future plans for Fiber expansion include select areas of Gonzales and DeWitt counties. However, just as in the early years of electricity, it will take time to build out infrastructure across the service area. Until then, we are continuing to increase Wireless speeds where possible. A highlight for 2017 was the introduction of E-rate Internet services, which allows for a government grant to subsidize (in part) bringing Fiber Internet to rural school systems. We look forward to the opportunity to support our local educators in the coming years through this program.
Adding to the momentum, GVEC was also among a handful of Texas organizations to launch a utility-scale community solar facility and program. Powered by the SunHubTM Generation Station, the SunHub Community Solar program allows members to purchase from 100 to 500 kilowatt-hour blocks of locally produced solar electricity. The facility serves as a milestone for the Cooperative as GVEC’s first renewable generation facility. We developed SunHub as a direct result of interest from GVEC members to invest in a program of this nature. This project helps GVEC better control transmission and distribution costs. SunHub is proof that we listen and implement feedback and technology when and where it aligns with our Cooperative values, the most important of which is tangible benefits for all members.
You may have heard us reiterate throughout the year that GVEC is not JUST a utility; we are a Cooperative that provides Electric, Internet and Beyond the Meter Services. What this means is that we pledge to honor our heritage of honestly doing our best for our member-owners. Our goals are to continually strengthen the Cooperative in member and community service. We want to remain resilient as a compassionate and high-achieving team, and diversify enough to quickly adapt to industry change, allowing us to fulfill the ever-evolving needs of those we serve. It is good to be a part of GVEC in these times. We hope you feel the same way and appreciate your support.
General Manager and CEO
GVEC Board President