NOVEC President and CEO Stan Feuerberg announced at the co-op’s annual meeting, held in the Gainesville Technical Center’s open-air truck bay on Oct. 6, that he will retire in 2022.
“Tonight is my thirtieth and final NOVEC annual meeting as NOVEC’s CEO,” Feuerberg said to about 50 attendees at the COVID-modified meeting. “I love this job and the co-op. I have tremendous affection for the people I work with. I could not have asked for a better group of people.”
After providing his annual executive report to the membership, the president and CEO thanked his wife, Robyn, and his family for their support. He also praised NOVEC’s employees and board of directors. “They are laser-focused on the company’s goals.”
Members gave Feuerberg a standing ovation after he said, “It’s been a great 30 years and a great honor and privilege to serve you.”
Board Chairman Wade House’s Remarks
Board Chairman Wade House praised Feuerberg for his many accomplishments. He said NOVEC is in much better shape today than it was when Feuerberg took over leadership in 1992.
House explained how NOVEC has adjusted and made accommodations since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. He said the co-op’s technology allowed many employees to work from home. He praised lineworkers and employees who could not work from home.
“I’m particularly proud of our folks in the field because they had to work closely together.”
The board chairman said NOVEC received money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which has helped to offset some expenses during the pandemic’s bill-paying moratorium. Regarding customers who have not paid their electric bills during the pandemic, House said, “We will work with them.”
NOVEC crossed a financial threshold in 2020. House said, “There aren’t many co-ops that have over $1 billion in assets.” He noted that NOVEC’s strong financial position has allowed it to “invest millions of dollars into the distribution system to keep it robust.”
Highlights of President and CEO Feuerberg’s Report
Most Reliable Electric Utility in Region
NOVEC, with almost 177,000 metered customers, has been the most reliable electric service in the region for 22 consecutive years. It has kept lights on 99.99% of the time.
NOVEC signed a contract to add 300 more megawatts of solar-generated electricity to its power supply portfolio by 2023. This renewable energy will supplement the electricity generated at its 49.9-megawatt Halifax County Biomass power plant and other renewable energy facilities. NOVEC is one of only a handful of distribution electric cooperatives that own their own power plants. The biomass plant can generate renewable electricity 24/7.
NOVEC has not increased its base rates since 1991. Its prudent financial management allowed it to reduce base rates by 4.5% in 2011. Feuerberg said, “I think that is a remarkable accomplishment.” The Fitch Ratings agency upgraded NOVEC’s credit rating in 2020 to AA-, and reaffirmed that rating in September. “This upgraded rating allows us to borrow from the capital markets at low-interest rates, and that, in turn, reduces our operating expense.” NOVEC will return more than $6 million in CashBack to current and former members in December. Members also have received power-cost-adjustment credits, as opposed to surcharges, on their bills since 2012 thanks to prudent power-purchasing agreements made by NOVEC’s power supply team. Customers saved $52.4 million in 2020 as a result of the PCA credit.
Data Center ‘Ground Zero’
“Northern Virginia is ground zero for data centers, with 70% of the world’s internet traffic flowing through the region,” Feuerberg stated. In addition to the 28 centers NOVEC currently serves, the co-op has 40 more data center projects in various stages of planning and construction.
NOVEC Solutions is responsible for marketing the excess capacity on NOVEC’s 335-mile fiber-optic network. NS also sells its patented NS ONE-net device, which reduces data-transfer costs by almost 50% by allowing data to travel in both directions simultaneously on one optical fiber instead of two one-way fibers.
Feuerberg worked with CareHere, the co-op’s wellness center partner, to obtain 400 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last March for NOVEC employees and contractors before many companies obtained them.
NOVEC and NOVEC HELPS donated thousands of dollars to area food banks and other charitable organizations. Customers who rounded up their monthly bills voluntarily allowed NOVEC’s Operation Round Up program to give $131,000 to nonprofit social service agencies, which distributed the money to low-income people who qualified for energy assistance.
Members reelected James Chesley to represent District 3, Michael Ragan to represent District 6, and C.W. (Skip) Albrite Jr. to represent District 7 on the board of directors.
—Report by Priscilla Knight, Communications Specialist, NOVEC
Above photo: Stan Feuerberg, president and CEO of NOVEC, addresses the co-op’s limited annual meeting on Oct. 6. (Photo By: Emily Ready)