GAFFNEY — Continued quality service that constantly seeks to reduce costs to the consumer through technological innovation, support for green energy research, investment in economic development, and support of charitable organizations in the counties it serves, are and will continue to be hallmarks of Broad River Electric Cooperative the company’s new President and CEO says.
A lifelong employee of Broad River who went to work for the cooperative on June 21, 1971, one day before his 18th birthday, Doug Wilson has served in a variety of positions during his 40-year career. On Dec. 28, 2011, Wilson succeeded J. Richard Baines as the cooperative’s president and CEO.
In a statement announcing his appointment, Norris Fowler, chairman of the cooperative’s board of trustees, pointed to Wilson’s many years of experience with Broad River as making him the most qualified to lead it into the future.
“The Board of Trustees did a nationwide search for the right man or woman to lead our cooperative,” Fowler said. “But the right man was here already. Doug Wilson knows the cooperative frontwards and backwards. He has all the experience and leadership that we have enjoyed under the direction of Mr. Baines and that we will need as we move into the future.”
Wilson started at Broad River Electric as a Groundman before becoming a Lineman, Crew Foreman, Safety Coordinator and Special Equipment Director, and then Operations Manager. Since 2009, he has served as Assistant Manager, overseeing all day-to-day operations of the cooperative.
“I have no doubt that Doug Wilson is the person to lead this cooperative because he’s done an exceptional job of it already,” said Baines, who officially retired on Jan. 26. “There isn’t a decision over the last several years that he didn’t have a significant part in making.”
In a telephone interview Monday, Wilson discussed Broad River’s future including the changes in power technology and the impact it will have and is already having on the cooperative’s ability to serve its customers.
“Technology is changing and I want to stay on top of the changes in the technology,” Wilson said. “You hear a lot of talk about smart grid which is the smart meter. We have the smart meter, but there is more enhancements to those meters there. In a nutshell, we’re able to poll those meters once every hour, but that information that comes back we’ll be able to use to predict peaks which will help curb the consumption of energy, thus making it more affordable. Also, with a smart meter we can monitor the system better and respond quicker and we can predict outages.”
Wilson also discussed Broad River’s efforts to assist customers who want to go green where their power is concerned.
“We’re working with those customers who want to experiment with solar energy through our net metering program,” Wilson said. “Net metering allows the consumer to generate or supply their own needs and then we would credit them for excess generation. If they used a thousand kilowatt hours and they generated 50 kilowatt hours back into our system — 50 kilowatts above their needs — then their usage would be 950 kilowatt hours.”
Broad River also offers customers the option of purchasing blocs of green power with the funds generated going to support research into alternative energy.
“A lot of people are concerned about the environment and that’s an investment in the future for our children, for future generations,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who serves on the Union County Development Board, said Broad River wants to be part of the future development of Union County.
“I want to make sure Union County develops economically,” Wilson said. “We want to be a part of that economic development for jobs which leads to growth in the community.”
Wilson said Broad River has invested a great deal in the development of the power infrastructure in the Jonesville area, particularly the Dollar General Distribution Center, the old Disney Direct Marketing facility, and the new Trakas Industrial Park. He added that Broad River is also actively seeking a new tenant for the old Disney facility which he said would bring more jobs to the county.
Charitable activities are also a major part of Broad River’s investment in the communities it serves through Broad River Electric Charities.
“This is something near and dear to my heart,” Wilson said. “We’re actually doing what we call ‘round-up,’ we’re rounding your bill to the nearest dollar. Those monies are distributed to charitable organizations throughout the counties on a quarterly basis. It’s voluntary participation, and right now we have about 81 percent of our members participating. Since it’s inception, we have collected about $120,000 and to date we’ve disbursed somewhere in the neighborhood of $88,000 with $20,000 available at our next charitable board meeting today.
“We try to give equally between the counties we serve,” he said. “In Union County we’ve contributed to The Potters Storehouse, the Salvation Army, Union DSM Board, the American Red Cross, Union County Pregnancy Center, Meals on Wheels, Union County First Steps, Union County Crimestoppers. Those are some of the charities in Union County that have benefited from Broad River Electric Charities. I think that’s one of the best programs we’ve ever established.”
A native of Gaffney, Wilson graduated from Gaffney High School where he received vocational training in basic electricity and electronics. While with the cooperative, Wilson earned Journeyman Lineman and Practical Loss Control Leadership certification along with other continuing education credits. He graduated from Limestone College in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management. Last year, Wilson completed the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Management Internship program. In Nov. 2011, Wilson graduated from the SC Economic Development Institute.
“Richard Baines has left a legacy of progress, fairness, and service to our membership that I hope to maintain during my tenure,” said Wilson. “I am honored that the Board of Trustees has selected me lead to the cooperative that I love. It is my hope that we continue to provide our member-owners with the most efficient, reliable, and affordable service possible.”
As a non-profit, member-owned utility, Broad River Electric Cooperative strives to be a consumer advocate for the people that use the energy we distribute. With accountability, integrity, innovation, and commitment to the community, Broad River Electric serves over 20,000 meters in Cherokee, Spartanburg, Union and Newberry counties in South Carolina and Cleveland, Polk, and Rutherford counties in North Carolina