Behind the power lines, poles and transformers, electric cooperatives are community-focused organizations that work to efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe energy to consumer-members.
Beyond the business, though, electric cooperatives are strong partners in the local communities they serve.
For Coast Electric, these communities are where our consumer-members live and work, but also the place our 240+ employees call home. “At Coast Electric, our business is not about making profits,” said President and CEO Ron Barnes. “Our business is also more than providing electricity or providing local jobs. We strive to make the communities we serve better places to live. After all, this is the place we all call home.”
Coast Electric, and our wholesale power provider Cooperative Energy, have a broader role in supporting the communities we serve. Cooperative Energy provides all the electricity required by Coast Electric members and the
members of 10 other local electric distribution cooperatives across Mississippi. Coast Electric purchases the electricity from Cooperative Energy then delivers it to members.
“Woven into our mission of delivering safe, affordable and reliable energy is a sense of responsibility to the communities we serve,” said Jim Compton, president and CEO of Cooperative Energy. “We view our cooperative as duty-bound to monitor and lessen the environmental and societal impact of our business because this is where our members live and also where we live. We also strive to enhance our local economies and provide good, stable employment opportunities. These efforts are a direct result of our community focus and show how tightly we
are integrated with the communities we serve.”
Cooperative Energy has taken significant steps in recent years to lessen the impact of power generation on the environment. Among 19 electric generation and transmission cooperatives rated by Moody’s rating agency, Cooperative Energy was one of the three least dependent on coal in 2017, with coal supplying only 13 percent of the electricity the Cooperative produced that year.
A further reduction in that number occurred in 2018 as a result of the cooperative’s decision to retire its only owned coal-fired units and replace them with more efficient, lower emission natural gas units. The R.D. Morrow Sr. Generating Station was officially retired as a coal burning facility in November 2018.
At the same time Cooperative Energy was reducing its dependence on coal, the cooperative increased its dependence on clean energy by partnering with Renewable Energy Systems on a 100MW solar facility in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta’s Edge solar site will produce enough solar energy to power nearly 20,000 homes a year. As a result of the ongoing work at the R.D. Morrow Sr. Generating Station and the addition of the Delta’s Edge facility, Coast Electric and the other 10 electric cooperatives served by Cooperative Energy can provide consumer-members with more clean energy than ever before.
The commitment to community exhibited by Cooperative Energy, Coast Electric and the 10 other electric cooperatives across the state demonstrates that business at these cooperatives is anything but business as usual.
“We value our ability to efficiently and effectively power the lives of our members,” said Barnes. “However, we feel we have a higher calling than that. Electric cooperatives are in a unique position to positively impact our communities. With all 12 of us working in unison, we bring about positive change statewide.”