“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” (Dr. Norman Vincent Peale)
I recently shared this quote with our employee family. In its simplicity, it aptly defines our culture and what we do each and every day to transform the rural space and experience on behalf of our 40,000-plus electric, propane and fiber internet consumers.
We accomplished an audacious list of goals and objectives in 2017, and it would have been easy to view 2018 as a period of rest and recovery, but that’s just not the MEC way. We rolled up our collective sleeves and got down to business out of the gate, and created yet another year of energetic productivity and phenomenal results.
On the electric side we leveraged the investment of the new fiber communications infrastructure on our grid and began implementing a major application that will allow us to isolate outages and minimize consumer impact. We have a long way to go, but this technology will create tremendous efficiencies in restoration and reduce overall outage hours.
Late in the year, in partnership with our power supplier, we commissioned SpartanSolar-MEC. This is a meaningful way for our electric consumers to participate in renewable energy without the huge out-of-pocket investment and ongoing maintenance. It’s another victory for Michigan’s cooperatives, who lead the state in renewable generation.
We welcomed a steady stream of new propane customers through the year, and our entire family of consumers is enjoying a winter of price stability in a very unstable market because of our guaranteed capped rate. It’s been another volatile heating season, and we’re only half way through. We’ll have another great story to tell come spring, and will gladly welcome folks ready for a partner they can trust.
Finally, we’ve entered our fifth and final year of our southwest Michigan fiber deployment, and we’re now developing construction plans for our 2020 southeast Michigan launch. The business turned cash positive in 2018, just four short years in, and we ended the year with 8800 subscribers. We also celebrated a huge win with a $5.1 million award through the federal CAF-II auction. This is meaningful not only in what it allows us to do to grow the business, but also represents the culmination of years of education and advocacy about the need to change policy and funding for rural broadband.
2019 promises to bring all of the above, and then some. We’re evaluating a couple of program offerings to add value to your service experience, and preparing to launch our new SmartHub, which will provide a single account login for all lines of business. Ultimately, we’re going to continue losing ourselves in something bigger than ourselves as we deliver first-in-class innovations and solutions where others won’t.