When I think about being only the fourth general manager at South Plains Electric Cooperative in 75 years, I realize I have some really big shoes to fill. I’ve had the privilege of being associated with the Cooperative for more than 25 years. Facing the task of leading this great Cooperative is like climbing into the front seat of a rollercoaster—it’s exciting and scary all at the same time.
My excitement easily outweighs my fears, and the reasons are simple. I’ve had great mentors along the way and have great people to work with in the future.
It’s been easy to gain experience and knowledge from working closely with a knowledgeable board of directors and two outstanding general managers, J.C. Roberts and James Driver. These men gave me insight and provided mentoring as I learned the business.
I’ve also learned from my fellow employees. They have a heart for service and conduct business with integrity.
It’s been my experience that the overriding principle shared by every board member, general manager and fellow employee has been to balance the members’ needs with the continued financial stability of the Cooperative.
Seventy-five years ago, this Cooperative began by extending service to 278 homes and farms. South Plains Electric now provides electricity to almost 50,000 meters with 9,600 miles of line stretching over 6,600 square miles of service area in all or part of 18 counties.
This amazing growth is credited to the past leadership. The board of directors made decisions along the way that demonstrated their commitment to the Cooperative, because it often meant putting aside personal interests in favor of lower rates and exemplary service for all members.
The Cooperative has grown from less than 300 farms and homes to a diverse load mix of residential, irrigation, commercial and oil. A balanced mix benefits all members because the Cooperative’s success or failure isn’t dependent on one load type. A low sales year to the irrigators can be offset by a higher sales year to any of the other three sectors. And with weather being a driving force behind electricity usage, it often happens this way.
Sharing the risks and rewards is why the Cooperative business model works. Unlike other utilities that answer to Wall Street, South Plains Electric only takes care of business on Main Street.
The directors and employees are your friends and neighbors. You see them at school, church, the grocery store or at the gin. They participate in their children’s activities along with your children. Since the directors and employees live and work in the local communities, they are committed to providing superior service.
The obvious advantage of this relationship is that Cooperative members have the ability to hold each employee and director accountable for the decisions made on behalf of the Cooperative.
We live in a great country and have received countless blessings over the years. As I strap on my work boots, my hope is to continue the exemplary traditions of South Plains Electric, both in the local communities and on the job. Yes, I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m not alone. I have the support of an amazing group of people at the board level and in our local offices. I hope to earn the support of all the members, too. The goal continues to be providing safe, reliable electric service at the lowest possible cost. If we continue to meet this goal, we’ll continue to earn the members’ pride and satisfaction in their Cooperative’s service.
Dale Ancell, General Manager