Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) recently hosted a roundtable with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Deputy Administrator Jessica A. Zufolo. Roundtable participants included management from REC, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) and the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC). The roundtable provided Zufolo an opportunity to discuss the role of RUS, the challenges affecting public policy and how the current administration could help improve rural life in Virginia.
Among topics discussed were rural economic conditions, energy efficiency, the electric infrastructure and broadband service. Joining Zufolo for the roundtable discussion were Ellen Matthews Davis, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Virginia, and Rochelle R. Richardson, a local RUS general field representative.
Zufolo praised the cooperative’s ability to lead progress in the industry. REC’s President and CEO, Kent D. Farmer said, “At REC we started to get our members involved in energy efficiency and introduced them to the smart grid before the term was coined. Our members look to us for solutions and information. We are in a time when consumers have access to more information than they have ever before, and it’s up to us, and other cooperatives to lead the industry to help our members be more energy efficient, and to manage their monthly costs for electricity.”
Zufolo added, “It’s all about the customer. When we are talking about issues with respect to energy efficiency, we are trying to get input from the public on how we can structure new regulations to better enhance energy efficiency tools so they can get the best out of the relationship they have with you, and be able to manage costs as best as possible.”
With respect to the electric infrastructure, Zufolo said, “With everyone’s recent experience with the Derecho that affected the area, your system and all the other electric cooperative systems in the mid-Atlantic were the envy of the Atlantic seaboard,” said Zufolo. “The service and unprecedented level of commitment among the cooperatives in the region toward tree trimming, restoration, and resiliency is above and beyond.”
REC provides electric service to over 155,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., Rappahannock manages more than 16,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For information about REC, please visit www.myrec.coop. RUS, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and successor to Rural Electrification Administration, lends money to not-for-profit entities to help finance improvements to rural infrastructure.