Despite the misconception that he needed to be an engineer, Andrew Cotter pursued his passion for the power industry and serves as a power portfolio specialist for Central Virginia Electric Cooperative in Arrington, Va.

When he talks with others outside of the industry who ask about his job, Cotter replies, “I buy electricity for 38,000 people.” Basically, he uses his analytical skills to gather and track data to provide critical support for a variety of the co-op’s operations personnel. For example, these data points prove helpful when members or others inquire about the duration of power outages during the day versus night.

Cotter’s analyses also help determine tree-trimming cycles throughout the co-op’s rights-of-way. “The primary reason why I’m digging through all this data and information is to support our power portfolio,” explains Cotter, “and making sure we are purchasing electricity that can keep members’ rates low, stable and affordable for as long as possible.”

Cotter was introduced to the electric cooperative industry at the Business & Technologies Strategies group at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Advancing into a management role with a renewable research program, Cotter gained great exposure to the nation’s 900-plus electric cooperatives. “I got to meet folks from all over the United States, and even the world, who had the same sort of interest in new technologies and renewables,” says Cotter, who, 20 years into his career, took the next step with his knowledge and experience to a locally owned electric cooperative. “That’s when I found Central Virginia Electric,” he says. “I immediately enjoyed and took to the cooperative culture.”

A team, or family, environment with ingenuity, Cotter believes the co-op business model serves as a solution for many issues. “You do so much at an electric co-op, because the staff is small and you have such an influence,” he says. “The career is dynamic enough where there’s all sorts of things that will change.” Comparing his career to surfing, Cotter says, “You learn more and you get better, but you’re still just sort of riding the wave.” A co-op career is anything but boring and provides limitless growth and opportunities for continued learning and advancing.

Cotter is excited to be part of an innovative solar-plus- storage project CVEC has launched in Central Virginia. As project manager, he looks forward to this game-changing tool for managing the co-op’s power portfolio. CVEC must be nimble and remain current as it purchases power on the market. Cotter believes a co-op career is perfect for those willing to serve their community and eager to learn.