By Brian Bond, SWEPCO Vice President, External Affairs
A few weeks ago, a friend who was a customer of the former Valley Electric Cooperative peppered me with questions about Southwestern Electric Power Co. We discussed everything from investments SWEPCO has made in the Valley power grid to our rates. Perhaps, you have the same questions. SWEPCO acquired Valley Electric in 2010. Since then, we’ve invested $91 million in the power grid that delivers energy to former Valley members.
We’ve trimmed trees along 2,100 miles of power lines and replaced old power poles. We’ve built digital maps of the Valley power grid and installed high-tech monitoring equipment. These and other improvements help our linemen work safely and restore power faster.
This year, we’re spending $2.7 million to modernize the grid. You may see crews working in and around Kingston, Stonewall, Toledo Bend State Park, and Hicks.
How have these investments affected rates for the 42,000 former Valley Electric customers?
After the sale of Valley Electric, customers using 1,000-kilowatt hours per month saw their monthly bills drop by $38 per month immediately after the sale.
SWEPCO’s rates today are 12 percent less than Valley Electric’s rates were in 2010. We’ve worked hard to deliver savings to former Valley Electric members over the past eight years.
The company refunded $25 million in capital credits owed to former Valley Electric members. Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell led an effort to dedicate $400,000 in unclaimed credits to Northwestern State University. These dollars fund scholarships and professorships that will benefit the former Valley Electric members and their families for years to come.
And, all Valley Electric employees kept their jobs with raises.
Besides keeping the lights on, SWEPCO employees are active in our communities. We teach children how to be safe around electricity. Our linemen have met with high school students interested in SWEPCO careers. Our team walked in the Relay for Life. We collected box fans for nonprofits to distribute to elderly residents.
All of this is possible because Valley Electric members voted overwhelmingly in 2010 to join SWEPCO. And, SWEPCO employees work hard each day to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers.
As a Louisiana native, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. The people in our state are hard-working and strong. As a long-time SWEPCO employee, I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’re doing to serve you.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions, please reach out. We’re here to help.