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Snapping Shoals celebrates 75 years

Kay Strickland and her granddaughter Kaleigh Brown, 3, get a special commemorative galvanized bucket at the Snapping Shoals EMC Annual Meeting. (Staff Photos: Crystal Tatum)

Kay Strickland and her granddaughter Kaleigh Brown, 3, get a special commemorative galvanized bucket at the Snapping Shoals EMC Annual Meeting. (Staff Photos: Crystal Tatum)

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Elizabeth and Hayden Roberson cool off with mist fans at Georgia International Horse Park.

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Bailey and Briley Oller enjoy free snowcones provided by Snapping Shoals. The sisters’ grandfather, David Oller, is a retired EMC employee.

COVINGTON - In 1936, five men obtained a loan of $90,000 to construct 90 miles of line to provide electricity to 270 customers in Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties under the name Snapping Shoals Power and Light Company.

In 1938, Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation was born and today, it provides service to nearly 93,000 members over almost 6,150 miles of distribution lines.

Snapping Shoals celebrated 75 years in business at its annual meeting held Thursday at Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers. It’s become a yearly family tradition for some, including Denise Gee, who brought her daughter Jade Roberson and grandchildren Elizabeth, 9, and Hayden, 7.

“We’ve been doing it since I was their age,” she said.

President and CEO Brad Thomas spoke of the EMC’s beginnings and continued commitment to low rates.

“For more than seven decades, Snapping Shoals has been providing reliable and affordable electricity to its members,” he said. “Called the ‘Greatest Engineering Achievement of the 20th Century’ by the National Academy of Engineering in 2012, I think everyone here today would agree that electricity changed the world we live in.”

Thomas told of how Snapping Shoals is rooted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s enjoyment of electricity at his part-time residence in Warm Springs, Ga.

“The president enjoyed electricity at his cottage in Warm Springs but had been shocked by the cost. At 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, he was paying four times as much for electricity in his tiny cottage in Georgia as he did for electricity at his New York mansion in Hyde Park,” Thomas said. “The president wondered why that was and wondered if there might be something that he could do about it. It was there, while standing on Dowdell’s Knob in Pine Mountain, overlooking the dark, rural valleys of central Georgia, it struck the president how big a life-changer it would be if he could get electricity out to the farms below him.”

Thus was born the Rural Electrification Administration, with the objective of bringing electricity to rural areas private electric companies had deemed too expensive to extend coverage.

“Today, there are 905 EMCs serving over 18 million members nationwide. I would say that President Roosevelt got this one right,” Thomas said. “Did the president’s efforts have any effect on electricity rates? You bet they did! Seventy-five years later, your electric rates are nearly half the cost that President Roosevelt paid at his Warm Springs cottage in the 1930s.

“Our commitment of reliable service at the lowest cost possible has been a guiding principle of this cooperative since its inception in 1938,” he continued. “One way that this commitment is measured is through our low rates, brought about by the sound business decisions made by the directors you elect to guide this cooperative.”

Thomas said that according to the 2013 winter Georgia Public Service Commission Residential Rate Survey, Snapping Shoals has the lowest winter rates at 500 kwh and the second lowest at 1,000 kwh, 1,500 kwh and 2,000 kwh, among the state’s 42 EMCs and Georgia Power.

Residential summer rates are the second lowest at 500 kwh and 1,000 kwh and are the fourth lowest at 1,500 kwh and 2,000 kwh, he said.

Thomas said the average SSEMC member with a monthly usage of 1,500 kwh saves more than $325 per year when compared to the average Georgia rate payer and more than $415 per year when compared to Georgia Power customers.

“The task of keeping your rates affordable is a daily effort. The environmental regulations that our government imposes turn the acquisition of electric power into a constant battle,” he said. “Please know that your Board of Directors and all of our employees will do everything in their power to keep your rates firmly among the lowest in the state.”

More than 50 door prizes were handed out at the meeting, with the grand prize, a 2001 Ford F-250 retired from the Snapping Shoals fleet, going to Wayne Kinnett of Conyers.

The oldest member in attendance, 92-year-old Dora Zachery of Conyers, received a $50 credit on her bill and the oldest couple, Richard and Kathryn Kelly of Covington, both 85, received a $100 credit.

Members reappointed to the Board of Directors, with no opposition, were Ruby Woods, Newton County, District 1; Dr. Millard Ross, Rockdale County, District 2; James I. White, Henry County, District 4; and Frank Lineberger, DeKalb County, District 3.

Snapping Shoals EMC is a non-profit, consumer-owned cooperative headquartered in Covington. Snapping Shoals provides electric service to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in an eight-county area southeast of Atlanta, including Newton and Rockdale counties.