My name is Sally Newkirk, and I'm running for the Shenandoah Valley Electric Board of Directors.
As a 27-year resident of Rockingham County, deeply involved as both a Real Estate business owner and community volunteer, I know the power and importance of community input. As a major economic stakeholder in our region, SVEC has the power and responsibility to make energy supply decisions that best serve our residents. As your SVEC Director, and neighbor, I will work to ensure that SVEC decisions support economic development, local control, and affordable rates.
Look for your ballot in the July SVEC magazine.
We all want to be able to afford our electricity. In Virginia, however, 70% of us have what is called an “energy burden”—meaning too much of our monthly income is needed to meet our electricity needs. Some of you no doubt noticed that (1) the Basic Consumer Charge increased about 56% in January 2020; (2) our variable distribution charge went down 6%; and (3) reportedly we ”will see no change in [y]our bills . What you perhaps do not realize is that in 2021 rates will likely increase 5%, according to the Board minutes of November 2019. And perhaps the Board should consider ways to offset some of the increases to address affordability challenges.
SVEC has a great opportunity to both serve its members and further economic development in the communities it serves by providing broadband internet to its rural members. The stay- at -home crisis highlights the need for—and spur—this action. Broadband will enable more members and their families to work from home and enhance virtual education. It will also enable greater access to telemedicine for more members, especially our more vulnerable ones. Paired with new technology, broadband can make it easier for our electric cooperative to detect outages. There are funding sources that may be available and the possibility of partnering with private telecom companies. Other VA electric co-ops are embracing this opportunity; why not SVEC?