The Pedernales Electric Cooperative, one of the nation’s largest rural electric co-ops, is emerging as the vanguard of innovators when it comes to engaging and partnering with its member-consumers in supporting their energy goals.
“We are here to support our members and to optimize the value of the owners’ assets ” said John Hewa, the co-op’s chief executive officer.
Hewa in a recent interview laid out his vision for crafting effective strategies to achieve advancements in demand response, energy efficiency and increased renewable partnerships in its central Texas territory, including fast-growing regions outside of Austin and San Antonio
Hewa, 43, grew up in eastern Tennessee. He is an emerging leader in the public power realm in America, having successfully led both municipal and cooperative utility systems, much respected within the ranks of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
He will sit down with the Energy Times for a wide-ranging discussion, “Evolving Energy Model in Texas: The Pedernales Success Story,” a live webcast at 2 pm ET on Wednesday, December 16. Please register here.
On the renewables front, Hewa said that his co-op has 10 percent renewables in its generation portfolio, predominantly wind resources. It has a growing base of 900 plus customers that own roof-top solar.
Pedernales is launching on-bill financing and member and community solar deployments to assist consumers interested in solar, he said. The cooperative’s goal is to partner and support our residential and commercial members in a highly beneficial, equitable and non-subsidized manner.
As development of intermittent renewable energy resources grow and Texas demands increase, Hewa said, “energy storage will be a huge factor , given the very unique market we operate in.”
PEC is also is crafting a sleek, modern grid.
“Our goals regarding innovation are geared toward running a very efficient, optimized, distribution utility and sharing critical information with our members to manage energy costs,” he said.
Ted Kelly, Burns & McDonnell senior project manager, who has worked closely with PEC, said that the story of change at the co-op is broadly instructive across the industry.