2023 87th Annual Meeting
Cullman Electric Cooperative hosted its 87th annual meeting on Sept. 16, 2023, at Northbrook Church. A total of 5,189 co-op members registered and voted by mail, while close to 700 members came to Saturday’s meeting to register for attendance door prizes, participate in a variety of free activities, and attend the yearly all-member business meeting.
During the business meeting, CEO Tim Culpepper discussed some of the challenges the co-op has faced over the past year as the electric utility industry experiences rapid changes at the same time the co-op’s service area is growing. Culpepper said Cullman Electric has added more than 3,200 meters over the past five years, compared to just 2,000 meters in the ten years before that.
“Anyone who drives around our service territory can tell that we are growing as a community,” Culpepper said. “We have always known that this is a great place to live and raise a family, but more and more people are finding out, and we can see this growth at the co-op. Our operations department has seen a substantial increase in the number of work orders it receives. That includes everything from staking and construction for new services, regular requests to connect and disconnect existing electrical services, security lights, and pretty much everything that we do."
The growth of our system, combined with supply chain shortages that are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in longer-than-usual wait times for service. We know it has been frustrating for many of our members.”
Plans for the expansion of the co-op’s Sprout Fiber Internet were announced at the meeting. In 2024, Sprout will be added to 12 distribution areas across the co-op service territory, giving another 7,000 co-op members access to gigabit-speed broadband internet service. Culpepper said grant funding was a major factor in Sprout’s 2024 expansion plan.
“We have said from the beginning that we would continue growing Sprout as long as there was demand from our members, with the ultimate goal of making Sprout available to every co-op member,” Culpepper said. “Our 2024 expansion plan is another positive step toward that goal, which we hope to accomplish over the next two to three years. We received a $1.7 million congressional appropriation thanks to Congressman Robert Aderholt. Our state delegation of Sen. Garlan Gudger and Representatives Randall Shedd, Corey Harbison, and Tim Wadsworth were instrumental in helping us secure a $4.5-million grant from ADECA. Thank you to all of these elected officials for their support and leadership in helping bring high-speed internet to the communities they represent.”
During the business meeting, the results of the board of trustees election were announced. The three incumbent board members who were on the ballot – David Hembree (District 7), Chad Alexander (District 8), and Lynda Carter (At-Large) were all re-elected for three-year terms.
An estimated crowd of more than 1,300 people enjoyed the festivities, which included live music from Cotton Pickin’ Kids and The Overtones. Cullman Regional hosted a free health fair, while the LifeSouth bus was taking blood drive donations. Free hot dogs and drinks were prepared and served by the Good Hope Band Boosters. Members of the North Alabama EV Car Club were on hand to show off their electric vehicles and answer questions.