Kent D. Farmer, president and CEO of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, is the recipient of the 2020 Electric Cooperative Leadership Award from the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Kent Farmer (l), outgoing CEO of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, receives the Electric Cooperative Leadership Award from REC Board Chairman Christopher G. Shipe.

Farmer received the association’s highest award July 27 as part of the VMD Association’s 76th annual meeting, which was held virtually. He is retiring Aug. 1 after serving with REC for 41 years in a variety of leadership roles, and as president and CEO since 2004.

He was cited for his visionary leadership, creative problem-solving and deep community involvement to help REC become one of the largest, most progressive electric cooperatives in the nation.

Farmer also has served as board chairman of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., and is on the board of the VMD Association, among other co-op leadership positions.

“My experience with Kent is that he has always been motivated by doing the right things for electric cooperatives and in the right way,” said Sheldon C. Petersen, CEO of CFC. “His integrity, insightfulness, devotion to duty and commitment to cooperatives are a model of what an electric cooperative leader should be.”

During his tenure, REC undertook a major Smart Grid initiative to better serve its members as one of 100 utilities in the country to receive a U.S. Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant. In 2010, Farmer oversaw the acquisition of 51,000 new members formerly served by investor-owned utility Allegheny Power, bringing them into the REC family.

“Kent Farmer is an exceptional leader, not only within our three-state region, but he’s also respected, appreciated and admired by electric cooperatives all across the country,” said Richard G. Johnstone Jr., president and CEO of the VMD Association. “Through dedication and hard work, he rose from management trainee at his hiring in 1979 through the ranks to become CEO of a co-op that provides electric service to nearly 170,000 connections.”

Farmer is a native of Caroline County, where he lives with his wife Sharon.