The right path

By David Bailey, General Manager

January 2022

Do you ever look at parents and think that their kids might follow the same career paths? In the case of my wife and me, she chose to be a science teacher and I took the path of an accountant. But when I look at my children, they are both very different from their parents.

Personally, I thank God that they are not like me. They are individually created by God, which is wonderful in its own right. My oldest daughter has always shown an interest in animals and science, while my youngest daughter took to sports, hunting and math.

So, as an interested father, I naturally thought our oldest should be a veterinarian and the youngest should be an accountant like her dad. After all, it is very tough to make a career in sports or hunting. As much time and money as I spend on hunting, my wife tells me I have made a career out of it. I just don’t get paid for it. So math-accountant seemed like the most logical path for our youngest.

But that wasn’t the path they chose. In fact, while I never heard my wife telling our daughters to go into education, both of them ultimately became teachers just like their mom. I believe God led them to this career path so they could have an impact on the lives of young students in their community.
In this month’s magazine, we feature a member who also followed in his parent’s footsteps. Gerald Allen has been in the Alabama legislature for decades, and in 2019 his son, Wes Allen, joined him there. Wes is an active member of South Alabama Electric Cooperative and has been a fixture at our annual meeting, even when he was probate judge for Pike County.

While Wes has a year left in the House of Representatives, he recently announced he is running for Alabama secretary of state in 2022. In that position he would oversee elections all across the state, and I want to wish him well as he hits the campaign trail.

Of course, a new year means many of our members are making new plans and resolutions of their own. For some, those include a resolution to push for making our electric industry entirely green. These efforts have put cooperatives like ours under great pressure to reduce our carbon footprints.

Too often, though, proposals that promote renewable sources don’t address the resulting costs. Our own power generation relies heavily on natural gas. In fact, with the closure and conversion of the Lowman Coal Plant, we currently do not directly own or operate any coal generation assets. With more dependence on cleaner burning natural gas, the cost increase in natural gas directly impacts your power cost. But as a utility we have financially planned to limit the impact of those price increases.

Most of the pressure for a green electric industry is being applied politically, which is why it’s so important that you vote. That’s true whether we’re talking about national and local elections or how your own cooperative is run. As a member of a democratically run utility, you have a voice in how we do business each year during the annual meeting. By answering to our members, we are able to make sure we always follow their lead rather than that of some Washington politician.

I, for one, hope these green resolutions take a step back. Renewable energy can work as part of an energy portfolio. But a focus on all renewables is a recipe for poor reliability and higher rates.

Whether these efforts stay or fade, there will be plenty of challenges for the electric industry in 2022 and beyond. As a member of South Alabama Electric Cooperative, you can rest assured that we will continue to work hard to bring you affordable and reliable electric service. Our priority will always be what’s best for you.