As product and service needs have evolved in our territory over the decades, we’ve continued delivering, always adjusting to new and changing demands.
Until the late 1930s, farmers, residents and business owners throughout our rural area watched from afar as city dwellers enjoyed the everyday conveniences of electricity. Starting in 1936, with the passage of the Rural Electrification Act, they anticipated that electric providers of the day would quickly take advantage of the measure to begin building infrastructure in our area. When none did, a group of local farmers took matters into their own hands.
This is how GVEC started—a demand for electricity and modern technology. More than 80 years later, we’ve grown into other products and services, but our mission to serve, to meet the demands of our communities and to exceed expectations hasn’t changed. As product and service needs have evolved in our territory over the decades, we’ve continued delivering, always adjusting to new and changing demands. Our growth in 2019 suggests we’ve made solid choices in the last decade regarding how to best anticipate and adapt to the evolving needs of our region for the years ahead. We entered 2019 with tremendous momentum from 2018 and enjoyed 12 months of exceptional growth and record retail sales.
2019 AC/Heating revenue broke the record set in 2018. Through the sale and installation of home solar panel systems, we added more system-wide solar kW in 2019, nearly doubling our total capacity for this renewable source. This reflects our intensive focus on solar moving forward, a decision we made over the last few years based on member demand for renewable energy options. In October, GVEC was recognized by the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s (SEPA) Annual Utility Market Survey as having the most cumulative watts of rooftop solar energy installed per residential customer in Texas. This ranking included 2,455 total rooftop solar power systems on GVEC’s grid at the end of 2019. This suggests that our service territory has the highest density of rooftop solar capacity among not only all other cooperatives in the state, but among all investor-owned utilities and municipals, too—no small accomplishment. Combined with GVEC’s 2 megawatt SunHub Community Solar™ project, these findings show we’ve become a leader in solar power among Texas power providers, large and small. Based on our growth in Solar for 2019, and upon the likelihood it will continue well into the future, we anticipateGVEC’s leadership in this area has only just begun.
In the second full year of existence, GVEC Home’s® Electrician services continued to flourish. Providing in-house installation on every solar panel system sold through GVEC Home, Electrician services remained a perfect complement to our comprehensive Solar solutions in 2019. To our delight, these services also caught on in a big way as a stand-alone offering. Sales numbers for the year easily surpassed those of 2018, while the number of completed service calls almost doubled projections.
We were also thrilled to partner with world-renowned energy solutions company Tesla in our turnkey Solar solutions in 2019. With Tesla Powerwall, excess solar energy can be stored instead of being sold back to GVEC. The stored power can then be used at night or in the event of an outage, giving consumers more control over their energy usage and helping them save money. Our Solar customers expressed an interest in and demand for battery storage solutions, so we listened, pairing the power of Tesla with GVEC’s reputation of reliability to enrich the value of our Solar experience.
GVEC Internet was proud in 2019 to help the Guadalupe Valley keep pace with the world’s continued progression toward increased connectivity in every aspect of life. We expanded, for example, our ongoing project to widely connect the GVEC service territory with fiber-based communications, delivering the world’s fastest internet technology as an option to thousands more local residents. In fact, we initiated service to more new Fiber Internet accounts in 2019 than in any other previous year. We made certain to continue addressing the demand for internet services in areas where fiber isn’t available, too, by upgrading and expanding ourWireless Internet footprint.
One of our most impactful Internet achievements in 2019 was the acquisition of a second E-rate project, this one in partnership with Moulton ISD. For those unfamiliar, E-rate is an FCC program providing reduced-cost high-speed internet to rural schools and libraries based on financial need. Through this project, district bandwidth jumped from 100 Mbps to 750 Mbps. Best of all, between FCC funding and state and FCC matches, E-rate covered 100% of the construction cost. We can think of few other areas where meeting the demand for up-to-date connectivity is more important than in education. GVEC is thrilled to have the resources to meet this demand in partnership with local educators and institutions.
In October, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors presented GVEC Internet with the “Community Broadband Project of the Year” award. The association selected GVEC for our work with local school districts through E-rate and for delivering cutting-edge fiber internet to small towns across our service territory. We take this award as confirmation that we’re moving in the right direction to meet the demand for high-quality rural internet access across the Guadalupe Valley.
Finally, GVEC has long championed economic growth in our region. In 2019, the Guadalupe Valley Development Corporation (GVDC), a nonprofit subsidiary of the Cooperative, and GVEC achieved one of our greatest economic development successes ever by completing the sale of a 159-acre tract of land in GVEC’s service territory. Aisin AW, a Japanese global manufacturer of automotive transmissions, will invest $400 million in the site to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, bringing over 900 new jobs to the area. We purchased the land, which lacked access to water, wastewater, gas and electric services, in 2013 for the purpose of attracting new economic development. Bringing service providers on board wasn’t easy, and Cooperative personnel spent many hours coordinating between providers, business interests and government representatives. In the end, we adjusted, persevered, and ultimately, delivered a monumental economic stimulus into the communities we serve.
Over the years, the Cooperative has been blessed with the agility, community support and dedicated workforce needed to continually adapt. 2019 was no different. Rising to this challenge has always required constant commitment to delivering more—more service, more value and choice, more community support. Within the Cooperative’s 2019 Annual Report, you’ll find evidence of our dedication to serving and continually creating value for members and customers—evidence of our continuous efforts to adjust to changing demands and exceed expectations.
Lewis Borgfeld Darren Schauer
President General Manager and CEO