Reflections Summer Issue | Volume 17, Number 3 - Page 43

Farm to Table

BY CHERYL PANGBORN PHOTOS COURTESY OF COASTAL ELECTRIC CO-OP

How often do you think about what it takes to keep the power running without interruption ?

Coming from a family of linemen , I ’ ve seen first hand how much work , sacrifice , planning , and danger is involved in keeping our power on . My brother-in-law was a retired lineman supervisor when he passed earlier this year . His job was intense , especially in South Florida where we used to reside and experience ravaging hurricanes , often . I couldn ’ t help but think of him while writing about Coastal Electric Cooperative ’ s approach to serving power to Richmond Hill .

When we moved to south Georgia we were told there hadn ’ t been a hurricane in this area since 1984 . Enter the Pangborn ’ s from Broward County , and it seems that fact promptly changed . Hurricane Matthew would batter our little town only a few months after we moved to Richmond Hill in 2016 . Preparing for the storm , I began having flashbacks to 2005 when Hurricane Wilma blazed a path through Florida and we were without power for almost three weeks . Naturally , with Matthew , we were bracing for the worst . We were shocked when our power was restored within 24 hours . If you live in South Bryan County , most of us have our friends at Coastal Electric Cooperative to thank for this anomaly .
Bethany Akridge , the communications coordinator for Coastal Electric , explains to me what it means to be a part of an electric co-op . “ We were actually founded back in 1940 when some locals got together to bring electricity to their community . Fast forward to today , if you get your electricity from us , you are not just a customer , but a member and an owner of the cooperative . There are no investors looking to make a profit . As a member , you vote for a board of directors and best of all , if the financial margins are strong , you may even find yourself receiving a refund .”
Coastal Electric has a 65-person workforce including their 20 dedicated linemen . They currently service most of South Bryan County , as well as Liberty and Macintosh Counties . While there are seasoned linemen who have come with years of experience , there are also many others who had no experience at all when they joined the team . Bethany says , “ While we support and encourage college education , we also want to support technical education as well , so we train and school our new hires right here at the co-op with on-the-job supervision .
RichmondHillRef lections . com 41