Article was added on Monday, August 01, 2016
Perhaps, if Santee Electric Cooperative (SEC) brought power to
your community before you were born, you may not know the
Some of the greatest aspects of rural living - the trees, the
long and winding roads, the comfortable separation between
neighbors - are the very reasons our communities had to wait for
electricity decades ago. Investor-owned utilities (IOUs)
focused on the urban areas because it was not profitable to build
power lines out into the country. Therefore, when the
cooperatives were formed over 75 years ago - to serve those very
areas - the founders knew there would be a difference.
(Subhead) Some of the differences are challenges
The main challenge is the lack of population density. SEC
has slightly less than 8 members for every mile of line that it
operates and maintains. A typical IOU, however, is able to
spread the cost of a mile of distribution line over anywhere from
20 to 30 customers.
Not far behind density is the cost of maintaining rights of way
- trimming trees. There are numerous areas in our territory
where we might have to trim a mile-long tree line to protect the
line serving just one home. This is not the case in urban
areas. Of course, as you might expect, this level of tree
exposure also causes us to get hit harder during storms.
(Subhead) Some of the differences are positive
Santee Electric's service territory is more than 2000 square
miles - the largest, by far, of any cooperative in the state.
What a tremendous undertaking! Rising to such challenges is
where the positive differences come into play.
First of all, the cooperatives were not set up to make a profit
- to fatten the wallets of investors in the stock market. We
were created to serve you - our members. You elect our
governing body, you pass our bylaws, and you are the reason we
Equally important is the fact that we serve our neighbors.
Our employees go to the same churches, ballfields, restaurants, and
grocery stores as our membership. We are not governed by an
unknown body in a faraway city. We're right here.
And we welcome you to visit us. While many utilities have
taken away the option of in-person customer service, Santee
Electric's doors are still wide open. Come in and see us
I'm also happy to report that we will be holding Member
Appreciation Days at our five locations in October. Keep an
eye out for those dates, and come see us. We want to show you
Robert G. Ardis III, P.E.
President and Chief Executive Officer
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