(GLEN ALLEN, Va.) ― The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has recognized Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) with its 2012 National Community Service Award for Community Investment.
The award was presented to ODEC’s CEO Jack Reasor and ODEC’s Director of Member and External Relations David Hudgins March 5, during NRECA’s annual meeting in San Diego, Calif. Presenting the award were NRECA CEO Glenn English and NRECA President Mike Guidry.
ODEC, a Glen Allen, Va.-based power-supply cooperative, was recognized for its forward-looking work in establishing Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) to deploy fiber-optic backbone to help spur economic development in rural Southern Virginia.
In 2000, Southern Virginia faced an enormous economic development challenge. The industries that built the region’s economy — furniture, textiles, and tobacco — were declining or moving overseas, and its rural communities struggled to recruit and retain 21st-century jobs.
ODEC, and its Director of Economic Development at the time David Hudgins, identified and sought to overcome one of the region’s greatest hurdles to competing in the 21st century economy — lack of broadband. ODEC started working in the early 2000s to deploy a fiber-optic backbone along Route 58, in the heart of Southern Virginia.
To accomplish this goal, the cooperative helped establish Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative. With the help of ODEC, MBC was able to secure millions of dollars in state and federal funding for the project, and in 2006 MBC began transmitting data via fiber-optic cable along Route 58.
With the continued support of ODEC, MBC has been able to expand its mission far beyond the originally proposed service area along Route 58 into 20 Virginia counties. To date, MBC has provided fiber-optic links to 60 industrial and technology parks, and it is currently working to bring broadband to all of the secondary schools in its service territory.
MBC’s efforts have been successful in bringing new jobs to the region. Since the deployment of the broadband, millions of dollars of corporate investment have been made in the area as a direct result of the new services. Last year, the region took another step forward when Microsoft announced plans to locate a $650 million data center in Mecklenburg County. In addition, Southern Virginia students now have the opportunity to prepare for 21st-century jobs through the broadband services MBC provides to schools and community colleges.
“This national recognition underscores how important community service is to the mission of electric cooperatives,” said Jack Reasor, president and CEO of ODEC. “Because community service is one of the seven cooperative principles, ODEC and our member cooperatives were in the ideal position to assist with getting MBC up and going. And it has, indeed, benefitted the communities of Southern Virginia.”
“The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative was just the right thing at a critical time in Southern Virginia’s history,” added David Hudgins, ODEC’s director of member and external relations. “We feel blessed to have been able to help the region meet its economic challenges during this difficult transition from a natural-resource-based economy to a 21st-century economy.”
ODEC is a generation-and-transmission cooperative that provides wholesale power to 11 member distribution cooperatives, nine in Virginia, and one each in Maryland and Delaware. ODEC and its member systems are not-for-profit electric cooperatives that are owned by the member-consumers they serve. ODEC owns 11.6 percent of the North Anna Nuclear Power Station in Louisa County, Va. and 50 percent of the Clover Power Station in Halifax County, Va. It also owns and operates combustion turbine facilities in Fauquier County and Louisa County, Va. and owns 50 percent of a combustion turbine facility in Cecil County, Md. For more information, visit www.odec.com.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states. More than 8,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation attended the NRECA Annual Meeting March 4-7 in San Diego, Calif., during which they set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2012. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates received reports from NRECA officials, heard addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attended educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.
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