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TEC Annual Meeting Considers Future, Change

August 28, 2014

Successful organizations show a capacity and willingness to change, said Texas Electric Cooperatives President and CEO Mike Williams at the TEC 2014 Annual Meeting, Aug. 3–6 in Galveston, attended by 867 TEC members and guests. In his industry update, he explained how TEC has adapted over its 74-year history and is poised to take on future challenges.

"We've had success at TEC," Williams said. "I think it has a lot to do with having great people—having great membership, having great leadership from the board. But one thing we have done particularly well, I think, is adapt."

Guided by member input, TEC pursues projects that make a difference and effectively manage member-cooperative resources, Williams explained.

In government relations, TEC has prioritized strong relationships between co-ops and elected officials. In training, TEC has provided workshops that foster cooperative purpose. In communications, TEC has improved member engagement by using multimedia and making connections with co-op youths.

Looking to the future, Williams discussed influences that will affect the electric cooperative industry. Climate change will be politicized, he warned, and proposed rules to control emissions could affect power generation resource options. Additional issues affecting co-ops include hydraulic fracturing, new owners of existing distribution utilities in Texas, cyber and physical grid security.

Because retail electric sales total about $400 billion a year, companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are exploring ways to tap into the market. They represent nontraditional competitors that can ignore service boundaries by using new technologies to poach co-op member load, Williams said. He explained that co-ops facing this new form of competition may need to swap the traditional utility-consumer relationship for more of a partnership with members who want to control their energy destinies and bills.

In closing, Williams said, "I believe the next chapter we write in this great co-op program will be a chapter of change, a chapter of adaptation, and it will be a chapter that will continue the incredible success that we have had in improving the lives of members for the past 80 years."