The roots of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) — VAEEC Business Gold member and April Featured Member of the Month — extend over almost 80 years, but there is nothing old fashioned about the way this electric utility serves its 161,000-plus connections in parts of 22 counties in Virginia. Unlike its members in the early days when electricity was new and exciting, today REC members expect electricity to be there when they need and want it. It powers their lives, the latest and greatest appliances and electronics and keeps life going almost effortlessly.
The 400 REC employees who work to deliver safe, affordable and reliable electricity to its members know that a lot of knowledge, time and work goes into exceeding their members’ expectations.
“Our employees ensure REC’s members are served using advanced technology and have access to a wealth of information to help them make the best decisions about how much electricity they use on a monthly basis,” explained David Koogler, vice president of member and external relations (and VAEEC Board member). “We do more than sell electricity. We provide value to our members.”
REC’s members request the ability to utilize environmentally friendly alternatives and access to tools that will help them reduce their energy consumption. The employees at REC make sure these systems are in place.
More than 10,000 REC members have either 175-watt mercury vapor lights or 100-watt high-pressure sodium lights at their residence or business. To help conserve energy and improve operational efficiency, when those lights need repairs REC is replacing them with energy-efficient 40-watt LED fixtures. Not only will these lights consume less energy, they require less maintenance and are dark sky friendly, allowing an unobscured view of the night sky while still providing a sense of security.
REC estimates all 10,000 residential-sized outdoor lights will be replaced over the next five years. This will help reduce energy use by 59 percent from 7.8 million kilowatt hours per year to 3.2 million kilowatt hours per year. The 4.6 million kWh saved is enough to supply 381 typical 1000 kWh per month homes for one year.
“Consideration of the environmental impact our industry has rounds out REC’s value equation,” added Koogler. “By offering energy efficient resources to members we are helping them take part in protecting our environment. We’re in the electricity business and today that means constantly promoting energy efficiency to our members.”
REC accomplishes this through community events, energy consultations, and short energy-tip videos shared online through their website and social media. Members also have access to tools to help them better manage their electric account. Because of the advanced metering infrastructure in place throughout REC’s service territory, all REC members have access to their hourly, daily, monthly and annual energy use data.
Koogler said, “Using the My Usage tool offered through REC’s MyREC SmartHub online account portal, members can log in to view this energy use data so they can identify the potential cause of spikes in energy use before they receive an unexpected high bill. They can also sign up to receive hourly or daily energy use notifications delivered by text and email.”
In addition to access to their energy use data online, REC also has energy experts who can answer members’ questions by phone or conduct in-person energy audits. These knowledgeable employees provide quality information for members who want to implement energy-saving steps at their home or in their business. Often these experts can be found providing energy-efficiency presentations at one of the over 200 community events REC participates in each year.
“Member satisfaction and quality experience is important to us,” added Koogler. “We think these value-added benefits of REC membership help exceed many of our members’ expectations of what an electric utility can offer.”