Staff Photos: Erin Evans. While rain has been pretty scarce lately, Harold Garrett of McDonough will be ready the next time there's a shower thanks to Snapping Shoals EMS employee Mitchell Martin. The umbrellas were popular gifts among the 1,500-plus guests at this year's annual meeting.
CONYERS -- For an annual business meeting, Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation's Thursday gathering gives members plenty of reasons to attend.
It begins with the trademark yellow plastic bucket filled with goodies.
Snapping Shoals EMC members gathered in the Charles Walker Arena at Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers with many carrying the yellow buckets that have been handed out for years.
The 73rd annual meeting is for Snapping Shoals customers, who are members of the cooperative, to elect members of the EMC's board of directors.
Board members up for re-election were re-elected without opposition. Thursday's meeting attracted 1,524 utility members, more than last year, according to Leigh Ann Burgess, Snapping Shoals spokeswoman.
Snapping Shoals EMC President and CEO Bradley Thomas hosted the utility's luncheon for the first time after succeeding longtime president Randall Meadows.
Thomas thanked Meadows, the board of directors and the employees for helping him through his transition to leadership.
Also, the winners of the Snapping Shoals EMC annual Washington Youth Tour and Scholarship award were presented.
Laura Kate Buttrill and Olivia Botts, both from Ola High School in McDonough and Jasen Lauritsen from the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, joined more than 100 other participants from across Georgia and about 1,400 other students from across the country in visiting the nation's capital. The teens also each received a $500 college scholarship.
All three students told the luncheon that the trip had a significant impact on them in visiting historical sites like the Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery.
"It really showed me that freedom comes at a cost," Buttrill said of her trip to Arlington.
In Snapping Shoals EMC's annual report, the utility reported its continuing efforts to promote alternative energy programs through a partnership with other EMCs called Green Power EMC.
However, the utility warned increased costs of energy and higher demands will require Snapping Shoals to continue with traditional electricity generating processes, including coal and nuclear power.
"The increase in new generation construction costs, fuel costs and environmental operating costs to provide the cleanest energy possible will inevitably mean an increase in the cost of providing power to our members," Thomas and Snapping Shoals EMC Chairman James White wrote. "As always, Snapping Shoals EMC will make every effort possible to shield our members as best we can from any increase."
Snapping Shoals EMC will participate in Oglethorpe Power's nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle. The utility is also a member of Power4Georgians, a partnership of Georgia EMCs to build a coal-fired power plant near Sandersville in east Georgia, called Plant Washington.
Opponents argued the coal plant could be environmentally damaging and too costly. The nonprofit group Georgia Watch released a report stating that Plant Washington is too expensive based in part on rising construction costs.
Thomas and White addressed Plant Washington in the annual report by saying that although energy generation from renewable and other alternative sources is growing, "coal is still the most abundant and most cost-effective fuel source for generating electricity in the world. There is also estimated to be a 250-year supply of coal in the United States."