GEC: Then & Now
Founding the Glades Electric Cooperative
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Rural Electric Administration to provide a means for rural residents to “light up their lives”. Then in the fall of 1944, a group of rural families came together to explore the possibility of bringing electric service to outlying areas of Highlands, Glades, Okeechobee and Hendry Counties. Because their communities were so scarcely populated at that time, the large investor-owned utilities had refused to furnish electric power to them. The founding members voted unanimously to name their new non-profit electric company Glades Electric Cooperative (GEC).
Now Serving More Than 16,000 Accounts
Today, Glades Electric Cooperative has grown into a $45 million-a-year business which provides high quality, dependable electric service to over 16,000 accounts. More than 2,709 miles of lines deliver more than 341 million-kilowatt hours to valued member/owners each year. But unlike sixty years ago, service provided today is not limited to rural farm houses and irrigation systems. Today’s member/owners include a variety of industries, small and large businesses, convenience stores, schools, sand mines, packing houses and more.
Glades Electric Cooperative is not a typical electric cooperative. While many cooperatives serve a customer base heavily dominated by residential services, GEC’s customer base is 52 % Residential, 48 % Commercial / Industrial. One example of an industrial member/owner is the Southern Gardens Citrus processing plant in Hendry County. This state-of-the-art juice plant produces over 103 million gallons of citrus product every year and requires a very high quality of virtually uninterruptible electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expected maximum total system demand is 100 megawatts and we experience peak demand periods during both winter and summer months.
Governing the GEC
As a not-for-profit, customer-owned corporation, Glades Electric Cooperative is dedicated to providing our members with the best service at the lowest possible price. GEC is governed by a nine member Board of Trustees elected at an annual meeting of all members/owners. Yes, everyone who receives electricity from GEC is not only a customer, but is actually a part owner of the company.
The Board sets the policies and direction of the company and names the Chief Executive Officer who, in turn, is responsible for appointing the management staff to operate and maintain the system. GEC’s CEO is Jeff Brewington. The current Board has envisioned an extremely aggressive path for the coming years. Their direction demands that the 71 dedicated employees of GEC daily seek to improve service to all members. To accomplish this, the Cooperative is constantly striving to reach new heights in every area of service.
Our Commitment to You
“Neighbors working for Neighbors” is not just a catchy slogan at GEC. We sincerely believe that our member/owners deserve the best power quality, the best customer service and the best response in an emergency. For the past eight years, the Cooperative has implemented a Strategic Planning Process. The plan addresses all areas of the cooperative’s business and sets aggressive goals and objectives aimed at improving every aspect of the company. That process has led to the development of a system-wide Restoration Plan to upgrade the quality of electric service. This plan will continue until all members have the quality of service they deserve. For those members in the areas where the Restoration Plan is completed, favorable results have been obvious. A recent Consumer Attitude Survey conducted by a national organization indicated that consumer satisfaction with the service at GEC has shown substantial improvement over the last several years.
The next area, Customer Service, is a key element of a successful cooperative business. GEC has strived to improve this area by having employees personally answer the phones. Friendliness, courtesy and prompt service are expected by and provided to all the members. Since so many calls relate to monthly billing, the Cooperative offers several billing programs to simplify the payment of monthly bills.
This commitment to customer satisfaction also leads the Cooperative into other areas involving its members. Glades Electric Cooperative is committed to the communities we serve. Although providing quality electric service is our primary business, being a partner in quality-of-life issues in our service area is a basic principle of the cooperative way of doing business. We are actively involved in Chambers of Commerce, Economic/Industrial Development Councils, youth programs, fairs, schools and athletics in each of the counties served. In 1998, after recognizing that there are many people whose needs are not being met through traditional public agencies, the Cooperative organized The Glades Electric Charitable Trust. With contributions made by members, the Trust provides funds to deserving individuals or programs in communities served by GEC. In its first seven years, the Trust has dispersed $292,650.
Glades Electric Cooperative has come a long way since those rural pioneers met in 1944. Those founders who wanted only electric pumps, refrigerators and maybe even Christmas lights surely never imagined they were laying the foundation for Glades Electric Cooperative as it is known today. Now, years later, we’re working hard to continue their legacy by striving to be “Neighbors Working for Neighbors”.
The Annual Business Meeting of Glades Electric Cooperative is held on a Saturday in March or April and all members are invited to attend this Annual Meeting. There, members have an opportunity to meet the trustees, management staff and employees of GEC. The business session includes reports from each of the officers, a complete review of the financial status of the Cooperative and the CEO’s report.
All members are eligible to participate in the election of Trustees. Also each member receives a gift for attending and is eligible to win other prizes drawn from the registration slips of those in attendance. We encourage all GEC members to attend and participate.
Where We Get Our Power
Glades Electric Cooperative purchases wholesale power from Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc. SECI is a generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Tampa, Florida. SECI was organized in 1948 to provide bulk supplies of electricity to GEC and nine other cooperatives located throughout peninsular Florida. Seminole’s primary resources include the Seminole Generating Station (SGS) in northeast Florida and the Richard J. Midulla Generating Station (MGS) in south central Florida. Approximately 1.6 million people and businesses in parts of 42 Florida counties rely on Seminole’s Member cooperatives for electricity. Seminole also owns and maintains more than 350 miles of transmission line. Seminole serves approximately 90 percent of its Member load using the transmission systems of other utilities under Open Access Transmission Tariffs.