By Randy Carroll, CEO
Recently I had a conversation with an old friend of mine. He was intrigued with solar panels and battery installations he heard about in the news. One of his questions caught my attention. “Aren’t you guys afraid solar will put you out of business?” he asked.
My response probably surprised him. At East Mississippi Electric Power Association, we support cost-effective and efficient solar installations and will work with any of our members who wish to install solar panels and battery systems. Our only requirements are that the installations are done properly and that the safety of our members and employees is assured.
EMEPA is one of 15 electric cooperatives in Mississippi that have members with solar installations. Electric cooperatives have a history of serving local member needs. If a member has a desire to install solar, we want to be their trusted source for information specific to their needs and use patterns.
Sometimes the question is, “Why do you still need a flat monthly charge when I install solar?” That question goes hand in hand with whether a member wants to remain connected to the electric distribution system. If a member intends to live completely off the grid, they would no longer be a member-consumer of EMEPA services. We would not have any poles, wires, transformers or service lines backing up the solar power to the home nor delivering energy during cloudy days and nights when the sun is not shining. We also would not have anyone responding to outages. If that were the case, there would not be a monthly bill.
If on the other hand, the member wants backup service for those times their service from solar is not operating at the level needed for their comfort and safety, they will still need all the equipment currently serving them. One of the many benefits of being a member of an electric cooperative is that when you needed your electric service for your home, it was built with little or no upfront cost. Over time, that installation cost, along with routine maintenance, is recovered through a flat monthly charge and energy sales. When any of the poles, wires, transformers and service wires are damaged by lightning, wind or storms, our employees respond to fix the problem and restore the safe, affordable and reliable service you have come to expect.
You see, our commitment to you and your electric service is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rain or shine. We not only build the service, we maintain the lines and respond to the outages whenever they happen. We do so daily for less per person than most people spend for a drive-thru breakfast.