In an era defined by change, Victory Electric embraces our history, but strives to adapt to a world with increased connectivity, technological advances and changing member expectations.
Change is not about leaving history behind. It’s about embracing the foundation of member service on which electric cooperatives were built. In 1945, our ancestors saw a need for rural electrification, and they created a cooperative to provide it. We do not change blindly, or without purpose — but rather position ourselves to continue to meet the needs of our members in the years to come. Today, the energy industry is nowhere near as generic as it once was. It’s diverse, progressive, and shifting its focus toward convenience with tools and services that will power us all into a brighter future.
Technology and convenience are directly related when it comes to your electricity and your needs. If there’s an outage or sudden spike in your electric use, you want to know as soon as possible. If you’re on the go and need to pay a bill or access your account, you need the convenience to do it whenever you want from wherever you are. That’s why we are committed to providing tools like SmartHub and PowerMyWay to help you manage your energy use and your account. To maintain high levels of performance and reliability, Victory Electric relies on a combination of new technologies, electrical distribution system upgrades, infrastructure inspections, and right of way maintenance.
Our upgraded outage management system uses leading technology to help us respond to outages faster and restore your power more quickly. The SmartHub online portal and smartphone app give you the ability to report an outage without having to call our office. Additionally, we recently implemented text alerts for members who elect to receive a notice when power goes out and when it is restored. As we move into the next decade, our goals are fewer outages, better communication, more ways to control costs, and additional programs and services that make your life better and meet your current and future energy needs.
WE POWER PROGRESS
Throughout our 75-year history, Victory Electric operated on the philosophy that taking care of finances is a critical part of caring for the communities we serve. Without prudent financial stewardship, neither past, present nor future successes are achievable. Keeping rates stable is the most important way we can help keep your bill lower.
We are very pleased our members enjoyed a rate reduction as a result of a wholesale power cost reduction. This decrease translated into Victory Electric members receiving a credit on the energy cost adjustment portion of their bill for all 12 months of 2019, with some months reaching more than a penny per kilowatt-hour in savings. Based on the average electric bill of $118 per month, our members’ yearly savings averaged $95, or 7%.
In addition to a lower cost of wholesale power in 2019, Victory Electric returned more than $900,000 to members through a capital credit retirement.
Victory Electric’s rates are set to bring in enough money to pay operating costs, make payments on loans, and provide an emergency reserve. A cooperative does not earn profits; instead, when revenues exceed the expense of providing electric service, these margins are returned to you in the form of capital credits. Capital credits are the difference in operating costs and revenues and denote each member’s ownership of the cooperative. The margins represent a contribution of operating capital by the membership to the cooperative with the intent the capital will be retired (repaid) to you in later years.
As a not-for-profit utility, Victory Electric is limited to two options for raising capital: borrowing or raising capital from its members. By melding capital credit funding obtained from members with borrowed money on which Victory Electric must pay interest, the cooperative is able to lower its cost of capital. Therefore, capital credits help Victory Electric remain in good financial standing and keep rates as low as possible for our members. The capital is used for improvements, such as substations, power lines and other electrical system infrastructure that serve our members.
Capital credits are unique as they are a sign of your ownership of the cooperative. We are very proud to be financially strong and able to retire capital credits to the membership.
WE POWER SAFETY
Financial success and reduced outage numbers mean nothing if we do not have a safe working environment for all our employees. Creating a culture of safety takes focus and commitment — it is not something that happens overnight. It is an ongoing process and takes everyone’s involvement.
Victory Electric maintains a safety program with regular employee training on safe work practices. We also created technology and programs to assist with job planning, hazard recognition, and employee and member safety. Our employees embrace the culture of safety, and they understand their safety and the safety of others is each employee’s responsibility.
We also focus on public safety by educating and engaging members in our community. To help remind everyone “safety is no accident,” our employees conduct free electrical safety demonstrations for schools, community organizations and businesses, as well as provide free electrical safety information on our website.
WE POWER SECURITY
Just as the safety of our employees and members is a top priority, member privacy and system security is also paramount. Digital technologies and smart devices are facilitating greater information sharing by allowing people and devices to communicate more efficiently with each other. Internet-connected devices not only enable us to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, but they also simplify and streamline our lives. However, greater connectivity comes at a cost.
It is unavoidable — Victory Electric relies on digital data such as member information, passwords, credit card numbers, and more. Protecting our members’ personal information from cybersecurity breaches has been and will continue to be a top priority at Victory Electric. With cybersecurity threats increasing and changing daily, Victory Electric is constantly monitoring and improving our network. We are committed to investing time and resources to build stronger cyber defenses, increasing our resiliency to cyberattacks, and safeguarding member data and grid operations.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Seventy-five years ago, the rural citizens who formed Victory Electric did so with an eye fixed on the future — a future where electricity powered every rural household. Our founders refused to allow their communities to be left behind in a world powered by the wonders of electricity.
Furthermore, they likely never envisioned the impact technological advancements would have on the cooperative. As we enter a new era, that innovative spirit still lives on as we rise to the challenge of identifying innovative ways to fulfill the needs of our members.
Shane Laws, Victory Electric Cooperative CEO
John Leis, Victory Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees President