Brundidge Rotarians hear power talk
Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2015
The Wednesday meeting of the Brundidge Rotary Club was “electric.”
Max Davis, manager of South Alabama Electric Cooperative, was the program guest of Rotarian Jimmy Ramage.
Ramage, who is also mayor of Brundidge, provided background information for the Rotarians about PowerSouth, the energy cooperative that provides electricity for the Brundidge community.
PowerSouth is headquartered in Andalusia and is a generation and transmission cooperative providing the wholesale power needs of 20 distribution members, 16 electric cooperatives and four municipal electric systems in Alabama and northwest Florida, Ramage said.
“In 1941, PowerSouth was formed by 11 cooperatives to generate and sell electricity,” he said. “PowerSouth was first known as Alabama Electric Cooperative.”
The name was changed to PowerSouth Energy Cooperative in 2008 to better reflect the geographical service territory and to position the company for future growth.
Ramage said PowerSouth utilizes a diverse generating mix that includes natural gas, coal, water, compressed air energy storage technology and a disciplined fuel supply-hedging program.
“Brundidge joined AEC on Dec. 5, 1947. The beauty of that was that, in so doing, Brundidge elected to be a supplier of its own electricity,” Ramage said. “Hatcher Jackson was the first Brundidge official to sit on the ACE board. Other members of the city commission to sit on the board were James Bryan, James Caldwell and Lillian Johnston.”
Ramage said PowerSouth began as a low million-dollar company but is today a $1.8 billion company.
“The ability of the Brundidge to buy and sell its electricity has been a factor in attracting industry and has helped us keep our rates below those of nearby cities,” he said.
Davis said South Alabama Electric Cooperative does not provide electricity to Brundidge but offers a broad range of funding programs for economic growth and development through loans and grants.
Funds are also available to schools and government facilities for energy conservation projects.
He discussed the different loan programs offered through USDA Rural Development that have been used for economic development in Pike County.
Davis said, while grants and loans are available for new businesses, assisting existing business is often a priority.
“You hear all the time about states coming up with money for new industries, but you almost never hear about money for existing industries,” he said. “What we like to do is partner with cities and economic development to expand existing industries.”
Davis highlighted the REDL&G (Redleg) program, which provides new or existing businesses with low interest financing.
REDL&G is a flexible financing resource that channels federal loans and grants through rural utilities to economic development and job creation projects.
“What is so beneficial about the program is that grants that are awarded are repaid to a revolving fund in that community,” Davis said. “Those funds are then made available for other projects within the community. The revolving fund is at $1,590,000 which is important to the future of the community.”