Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 14
News from Georgia's electric co-ops * Compiled by Amy Schneider
EMCs host drive-in, virtual
annual meetings during pandemic
EDWARD FOWLER / HART EMC
he COVID-19 pandemic has caused
dramatic shifts in the way we conduct our
work and meetings. Companies have had to
look for creative ways to continue doing business.
As part of this trend, Georgia's electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) have sought unique
solutions that adhere to evolving restrictions and
public-health guidelines in order to hold their
annual meetings safely.
Many EMCs opted for a drive-in model for
their annual meetings, allowing their members
to physically congregate while maintaining a safe
distance from one another.
Hart EMC in Hartwell found unexpected
success with this format, generating one of its
largest turnouts in recent years. More than 1,300
members attended the cooperative's July meeting
in vehicles, despite the sweltering summer heat,
said Angie Brown, director of public relations.
Attendees received $25 credits on their monthly
electric bills, and 15 grand prizes were drawn.
Although turnout was high, Hart EMC hopes
to host its annual meeting in person this year.
" We see the same people over and over again
[at the annual meetings]. It's almost like a family, "
Amicalola EMC in Jasper, Upson EMC in
Thomaston and several others also utilized
drive-in annual meetings. While some co-ops are
looking to return to their old meeting formats in
the future, others, such as Central Georgia EMC in
Jackson, are considering adopting a hybrid model
of drive-in and in-person meetings.
" We have very few changes we would make
to the format if we would do it again, " said Rachel
Garza, Central Georgia EMC's public relations
Other EMCs pursued virtual formats, which
permitted members to participate and vote from
the safety of their homes.
Coastal Electric Cooperative in Midway held
its meeting via online livestream in June, said
Bethany Akridge, public relations director. She
noted that this format allowed Coastal Electric to
save on typical in-person meeting expenses, such
as the costs for the venue and food, while enabling the co-op to reach members who otherwise
might not be able to attend. Prize drawings for ex-
More than 1,300 members attended Hart EMC's annual meeting in July, setting a
record for attendance. Despite the success, the cooperative would like to return
to the standard format of an in-person meeting, partly " because it is inside and
air-conditioned, " said Angie Brown, public relations director for the Hartwellbased co-op.
tension cords also were met with excitement from members, who were
able to pick up their prizes safely and quickly from Coastal Electric's
As a result of the meeting's success, Akridge said Coastal Electric is
looking to change its meeting format going forward, as it aims to more
effectively meet members' needs.
Hiram-based GreyStone Power Corp. also held its meeting virtually
in October but took a different approach to member participation.
The cooperative posted a video to its YouTube channel and linked
to the video through its website, Public Relations Director Ashley
Kinnard said. This format was chosen to allow less-tech-savvy
members to participate in operations safely without having to create
an account on an additional website.
The co-op gave away gift cards to local businesses and grand prizes
of $500 bill credits during the meeting. Although turnout was lower
than at typical annual meetings, GreyStone reached a quorum through
mail-in ballots sent to members via their copies of Georgia Magazine.
GreyStone plans to hold its annual meeting this year in person, and
Kinnard hopes the opening of the co-op's new headquarters in Paulding County will spur an increase in turnout.
Despite the rapid changes and challenges they faced, EMCs adapted their annual meeting traditions to ensure that members' voices were
heard. Although they weren't meeting in person, members of these
communities turned out one way or another for their local EMCs.
" While [our meeting in August] was conducted in an altered manner, we still felt the support and unity of our members, " said Andrea
Walker, public relations director of Sumter EMC in Americus.
Georgia Magazine - March 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - March 2021
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 8
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Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover4